Saturday, November 04, 2006

I'll see you on the dark side of the moon

The Dark Side of the Moon Live concert poster. [UPDATE 08/02/07] Check out my review of the concert (with photos and video).

EEEEEE!!!! And woohoo!! I got tickets for the Roger Waters gig yesterday morning! There are six of us going to see him in Auckland in January and I'm really really excited about it. It's the only New Zealand concert in his world tour of The Dark Side of the Moon Live.

I remember the first time I ever heard The Dark Side of the Moon. We were on our annual summer camping holiday in Spain, and I was sitting in the car reading a book. I must have been 12 or 13 at the time. I could hear this amazing music drifting across the campsite, so I put my book down and started to listen.

I guess whoever was playing it must have played the whole album, because it seemed like ages before I was able to figure out what it might be called or who it was by. It's not until almost the end, with the song Brain Damage that you finally get the reference to The Dark Side of the Moon:

The lunatic is on the grass.
The lunatic is on the grass.
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs.
Got to keep the loonies on the path.

The lunatic is in the hall.
The lunatics are in my hall.
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paper boy brings more.

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

The lunatic is in my head.
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane.
You lock the door
And throw away the key
There's someone in my head but it's not me.

And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear.
And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

The Dark Side of the Moon - album cover. The album must have been out for a year or so by that point, so I had heard of it, but had never actually heard it before. I was transfixed.

When we got home from our holiday, the first thing I did was to rush out and buy the album. I've still got it (of course!) - it has a gatefold sleeve, with the classic Hipgnosis prism design front and back, and the rainbow heartbeat across the middle of the inner spread.

Because I was a careful child and took care of my albums the way my dad had taught me, I still have the Pink Floyd poster and the two stickers that came with the album. They are tucked gently into the back half of the gatefold. According to this amazing site there should also have been a pyramids poster, which isn't there, so maybe I wasn't as careful as I thought! I think I remember it gracing my bedroom wall for many years, so I guess it's long gone.

I used to play it as loud as I dared (generally when my parents weren't home) on my dad's stereo in the living room. I'd lie down on the carpet with my head between the speakers, shut my eyes, and disappear into the music. I knew every word of that album, and I still do, 30+ years later.

I never saw Pink Floyd live and I so wish I had. Their 1972 tour to support The Dark Side of the Moon was a year or so before I "discovered" them, and I was too young at the time anyway. By 1977, the year of the Pink Floyd - In The Flesh tour I was going to my first gigs but had moved on to punk and wasn't really interested (or wealthy enough) to go to London to see them. In the early eighties, during The Wall tour I was a skint university student still wild about punk and New Wave music, busy spending my student grant on tickets to see bands like The Stranglers, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Cure.

Delicate Sound of Thunder album cover. I suppose it wasn't until the release of the live album Delicate Sound of Thunder that I remembered how much I loved Pink Floyd, and what a life-changing experience it had been for me to discover them back in that Spanish campsite all those years before. Again, I hadn't heard it when it first came out, but I got hold of a casette copy when I was first travelling in New Zealand and I used to listen to it on my Walkman as I was hitching around the country.

I ended up sailing to New Caledonia with Ian, a guy I'd met on my travels, and I would crank up Delicate Sound of Thunder while having my breakfast on the deck of our little yacht, scudding over the waves as the sun rose and a new day dawned. Awesome.

Israel concert photo by Nir Ben-Yosef, AKA: xnir. Yesterday morning I got up as another new day dawned, was out of the house by 6.45am, and was standing outside the Post Shop on Cable Car Lane before 7, waiting for the woman to open the doors. Far out! I could not believe that I was first in the queue! BRILLIANT!

It's been an interesting few days. They announced the tour on the news about 10 days ago, and it was quite a miracle I caught it, because I hardly ever watch the news these days - I'm generally too busy on my computer. They prefaced it with a comment that "later on there'll be an item of interest to all Pink Floyd fans" so I stuck around to see what it would be. The moment I heard what it was, I knew I had to go. I knew this would probably be the closest I'd ever get to seeing Pink Floyd live. And the whole of Dark Side of the Moon? Oh.My.God.

Israel concert photo by Nir Ben-Yosef, AKA: xnir. The next day I asked a couple of workmates if they'd be interested in going, and Gerrard immediately went nuts with excitement and went rushing off to call his partner Kirsty. Yup - they were in!

A few days later I mentioned it at bookclub and again there was a mixture of complete indifference from some and wild enthusiasm from others. Viv from work (whom I had taken to book club for the first time) and Kim from book club were madly keen, so we were now up to 5. I texted Ben, and he texted back that he'd love to go too if he could afford it.

Israel concert photo by Nir Ben-Yosef, AKA: xnir. Roger Waters' Brain Damage website had also announced the Australasian leg of the tour, and tickets were supposed to go on sale last Friday, but there was no sign of it on the Ticketmaster website when I first looked. Over the next few days we found out that tickets were to go on sale this Friday, and that prices were likely to be pretty steep.

The day before yesterday the Ticketmaster website finally came up with a list of prices ranging from $99 to $399, but with no indication of whether it was a seated or a standup concert, nor which part of the stadium corresponded with each ticket price.

I'm a bit of an old hand when it comes to buying gig tickets. During my first year of concert-going in 1977 I was in the front row at Birmingham Odeon for gigs by The Jam, Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Ian Dury & the Blockheads and The Boomtown Rats. I used to get there at 6am the day tickets went on sale, and I'd always be amongst the first five people in the queue.

Israel concert photo by Nir Ben-Yosef, AKA: xnir. I have been to hundreds of concerts over the years, and queued for tickets more times than I can remember. More recently I've done the online "Ticketbastard Tango" along with the rest of the ClayNation for Clay Aiken tickets across the US and Canada.

I decided we should have a three-pronged plan of attack - with Gerrard on the Ticketmaster website, Viv on the phone and me in the queue at the ticket outlet. The first person to get their hands on tickets would immediately txt the other two so we didn't end up with 18 of them!

Seating plan. I decided we needed to get our hands on a seating plan before the ticket-buying frenzy began, so I called the venue - the North Harbour Stadium in Auckland - and explained that there were 6 of us coming up from Welli and that we really wanted to figure out where we were going to to sit before tickets went on sale.

Another miracle must have occurred because not only did I get a lovely lady on the phone who was happy to help, she'd also just received a seating plan - in colour - which she offered to email me. Wonders will never cease! It was Meant To Be, I tell you! :)

Israel concert photo by Nir Ben-Yosef, AKA: xnir. I emailed the plan around our little group and we decided to go for Silver tickets at $199 (because Gold at $299 and Platinum at $399 were just a little too steep and the Bronze $120 and Iron $99 seats were much too far back). We picked out our first, second and third choice blocks, and made sure that we all knew what we were going to try for first, and what we'd settle for.

Viv and I got all over-excited on Thursday and booked our return flights to Auckland, because they were a really good price and we didn't want to miss out with all those other Wellingtonians booking flights on Friday after they'd bought their concert tickets.

Israel concert photo by Nir Ben-Yosef, AKA: xnir. I figured that the Post Shop might be a good choice for buying tickets in person as it's only just started selling concert tickets (I did a reccy there on Thursday afternoon) and most people would probably go to Real Groovy because that's where they filmed all the massive queues for the U2 gig. Plus Pink Floyd ultra-fans will mostly be old gits my age or older, and I couldn't imagine many of them being willing to sleep out on the pavement all night...

And I was right. Miracle #3. FIRST in the queue. I don't think I've ever been first before. A couple of guys turned up soon after I got there (hello nice man who was third in the queue! I thought you were really rather yummy...) and by the time 9am rolled around there were maybe 10 or 15 of us. A very small and civilised gathering indeed.

Israel concert photo by Nir Ben-Yosef, AKA: xnir. By about 8.45am I was getting quite nervous, so I got my seating plan out (having already shared it around the group so everyone could figure out which seats they wanted to go for), and pointed out the seats I wanted to the girl behind the counter, so that she'd be ready to search the second the clock ticked over.

There were two blocks of Silver seats quite close to the front, off to the side, which we had picked out as first choice, but sadly both blocks were completely reserved and unavailable. Rats! So I showed her our second choice seats and she got ready to grab them for me.

Israel concert photo by Nir Ben-Yosef, AKA: xnir. The seconds ticked by, I started to shake with nerves, and on the dot of 9am she typed in my seat numbers, mis-typed, had to start again, couldn't remember the code for "adult" for a second or two, checked if I wanted front row in my chosen block "DO I EVER!" I replied... and then... they were mine. YEEEHAAAAARRRR! Everyone else in the queue laughed and cheered as I did my Snoopy Happy Dance of Joy. I beat everyone else in the whole country to get those seats! Miracle #4.

Front row in our block. Central location. Third block back (behind the Platium and Gold blocks) so not too far away from the stage. We can dance in the aisle! There won't be some huge tall bloke directly in front of me! Stereophonic sound system that bathes you in the music! Special effects, huge big video screens and suchlike wonderousness! Fucking brilliant. I can.not.wait.

Israel concert photo by Nir Ben-Yosef, AKA: xnir. I made a bit of a boo-boo with the numbers. I thought only Kim wanted to go, and not her partner Paul, and I found out too late that I should have got tickets for both of them. Doh!! She called me on Friday afternoon and I realised my mistake, so she dashed off to the Post Shop to see what she could do to rectify the situation. Miracle #5 - although most tickets were already gone, there was a sad little lonely single ticket in the same block as us, and only three rows back, which she was able to snap up.

Israel concert photo by Nir Ben-Yosef, AKA: xnir. I reckon they should be able to sit together because they can offer to swap seats with someone sitting in Row C who can sit with us in Row A while the two of them sit together in C. Can't imagine it'll be too tricky to find someone who is willing to swap!

Now all we have to do is figure out how to get from the airport to the North Shore and back again (hire a car we reckon - can you fit six people in a car?) and where we're going to stay (better get onto that quickly I think), ask for our two half-days off work and we'll be all set.

Cool stuff you may not know about The Dark Side of the Moon

  • By 2004 the album had sold over 40 million copies worldwide, with an average of 8,000 copies sold per week and a total of 400,000 in the year of 2002 - making it the 200th-best-selling album of that year nearly three decades after its initial release.

  • It's listed in the Guinness Book of Records for being in the charts longer than any other album in history - 591 consecutive weeks (11.4 years) in the Billboard Top 200, and 14 years in total.

  • It is estimated that one in every 14 people in the U.S. under the age of 50 owns or owned a copy of this album.

  • The LP was released before platinum awards were introduced by the RIAA, and it initially only received a gold disc. However, after the introduction of the album on CD, Dark Side would eventually be certified Platinum in 1990 and then Diamond by 1999 in America. It is now at 15x Platinum and counting.

  • The music and lyrics for the entire album were written in just seven weeks, when the band was desperately trying to get new stuff together for an upcoming tour.

  • A few months before its release, the working title of the album was changed from The Dark Side of the Moon to Eclipse: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics because Medicine Head were planning to release an album of the same name earlier on in the same year. However, as the Medicine Head album flopped, Pink Floyd were able to revert back to the original album title.

  • Roger wrote up cue cards with generic questions including "Are you afraid of dying?", "When was the last time you were violent and were you in the right?" and "What does the phrase 'The Dark Side of the Moon' mean to you?" and handed them to assorted roadies, anyone at Abbey Road, doormen, and members of Wings including Paul and Linda McCartney. He tape-recorded their answers, and the best ones were used on the album.

  • It's Wings' guitarist Henry McColluch who can be heard saying "I don't know, I was really drunk at the time" in the fadeout of Money. The stoned laughter in the background of Speak to Me and Brain Damage is from Peter Watts, one of Pink Floyd's road managers.

  • The album was recorded at Abbey Road using what was then a state-of-the-art 16-track machine. To create the rhythmic sounds of coins rattling, cash registers opening and the ripping of receipts in Money, Roger made tape loops by physically cutting and mending bits of tape together in precise measurements using a ruler, and then feeding these manually into a tape machine for duplication.

  • The album cover design by Hipgnosis Studio represents the band's inventive use of lighting on-stage (the prism on a black background), and mad ambition (the triangularity of the prism).

  • The design of the inner spread of the gatefold, featuring the spectrum heartbeat, was Roger Waters' idea, echoing the heartbeat at the beginning and end of the album.

  • At the end of The Great Gig in the Sky, with about 13 seconds left the track speeds up to save time. When this is done it puts the music slightly out of tune.

  • When the album is played simultaneously with the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, numerous images from the film appear to synchronize with the music and lyrics. For example, the line "balanced on the biggest wave" from Breathe is sung as Dorothy balances on the rail of a pig pen, with "race towards an early grave" being heard as she falls off, "who knows which is which" from Us and Them is sung as the good and evil witches confront each other, and the closing heartbeats sound as Dorothy listens to the Tin Woodsman's empty chest. Band members firmly state the phenomenon, dubbed "Dark Side of the Rainbow" by fans, is a coincidence (David Gilmour labelled it the product of "some guy with too much time on his hands"), but it has achieved a measure of cultural fame. If you want to try it out, make sure you start the CD as the MGM lion roars for the third time at the beginning of the film.

  • In 1990 Australian radio listeners voted it the best album to have sex to.

  • In 2006, The Dark Side of the Moon was voted the ultimate life changing track (despite being the only full album in the shortlist) in a Music Club poll conducted by the Jeremy Vine radio show on BBC Radio 2.

BTW, all the amazing gig pics on this page are by Nir Ben-Yosef, aka: xnir, who takes absolutely wonderful photos of all sorts of things. Here's the full page of Roger Waters pics, and here's xnir's photo gallery homepage. Check it out!

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Robin Capper said...

It's not the same concert, so won't run real thing but his last tour DVD "Roger Waters - In the Flesh (Live) (2001)" is wonderful