Tag Archives: Animals

Rocks In The Attic #660: Roger Waters – ‘The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking’ (1984)

RITA#660“Mum, you know I can’t drink that wine!”

“Why not?”

“Durr…” (rolls eyes, points to own stomach) “ – PREGNANT!”

Two nights ago, I saw Roger Waters in Auckland on his Us + Them world tour. I’ve seen him in concert before, six years ago in the same venue, performing The Wall (more on that overheard mother-daughter exchange later). That 2012 was a fantastic show, and something I’ll never forget, but you probably had to be a fan of The Wall to truly enjoy it. This current tour is almost a fully dedicated Pink Floyd greatest hits set, and so there was lots to like.

Opening, of course, with Breathe, the set included the lion’s share of Dark Side Of The Moon, a couple of songs from Wish You Were Here – its title track plus Welcome To The Machine – and the more well-known songs from The WallThe Happiest Days Of Our Lives / Another Brick In The Wall parts 2 and 3, played as one continuous piece, and encores of Mother and Comfortably Numb.

What surprised me though was the portion of the set allocated to Animals – the oft-overlooked 1977 Pink Floyd album (overlooked only in relation to its chronological neighbours Wish You Were Here and The Wall). Up to that point, the concert had been your standard, straightforward arena show: one stage, band playing, big screen at the back projecting images alternating between the band playing, and artful, mind-bending imagery.

But as the band kicked into Dogs, a huge structure descended from the roof of the arena. The four chimneys of the Battersea Power Station emerged telescopically next to an in-scale flying pig, while the sides of the power station were projected onto massive screens. The whole piece looked like the front cover of Animals was floating in the middle of Auckland’s Spark Arena (as a sidenote, the former name of the arena – the Vector Arena – was a more fitting name to host Roger, particularly if Clarence Clemons from the E-Street Band was playing saxophone).

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Dogs segued into Pigs (Three Different Ones), and Waters used this as his opportunity to shame Donald Trump. The band donned pig masks and sat around a dining table sipping from champagne flutes, while a selection of Trump’s inane (or should that be insane?) tweets were projected onto the walls of the power station. ‘TRUMP IS A PIG’ eventually appeared inscribed on the screens as the song climaxed.

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I really appreciate that Waters is still (seemingly) a fan of the Animals record. When it was overlooked as one of the Immersion box sets a few years ago, it seemed to lose some of its cachet. Perhaps it was an absence of decent additional material that could have fleshed out such a set, but it just seemed to be a snub for a record that resonates so much with fans as the last true Floyd album (if you follow the theory that The Wall and The Final Cut are just Roger Waters solo albums in everything but name).

The other highlight of the set for me was the inclusion of One Of These Days, the bass-heavy opening song from 1971’s Meddle. I love this song – it’s in my top 5 Floyd tracks – and so when Waters strummed that first heavily-delayed bass note, I let out a squeal of excitement much to the amusement of my wife.

The rest of the show featured everything you’d expect from a Roger Waters show (or a Pink Floyd show for that matter): laser projections, a school choir for Another Brick In The Wall Part 2, a huge inflatable pig flying around the arena (much more manoeuvrable these days thanks to drone technology), and lyrics to die for. If there’s ever been a finer quartet than ‘And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking / Racing around to come up behind you again / The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older / Shorter of breath and one day closer to death’, I’d really like to know.

My only disappointment was the absence of Shine On You Crazy Diamond – but I presume this was substituted for the Animals suite due to its topicality in terms of world events. Hopefully he’ll return to New Zealand one day and I’ll get to see him play it.

My experience in seeing Roger Waters play live twice now is that he never fails to attract New Zealand’s cream of the bogan crop. When we saw The Wall, I invested in very expensive diamond tickets, just a few rows from the front. We’ll be away from the riff-raff here, I thought. How wrong I was. To my right sat a twenty-something blonde, dressed like a stripper, accompanied by her forty-something mother. They looked so similar – blonde with roots, caked in make-up, stumbling in ridiculously high heels – they could have been sisters. After the older one returned from the bar, forgetting that her daughter was pregnant (she drank the wine regardless), they proceeded to stand-up in their seat, and danced along to the show. Not a huge problem you might say, but the people sat behind them who had shelled out $400 a ticket thought differently. Security was called after they became belligerent and abusive, and they were thrown out.

This time around, we were sat in the cheap seats with a group of drunken bogans sat behind us. Before the show started, one of them kicked a full tray of drinks over, with the resulting liquids spilling under our seats. They apologised, and it wasn’t too much of a problem, so fair enough. The guy sat directly behind me then thought it was acceptable to put his feet up onto the top of my chair, which I just sat back on, his toes digging into my back, until he got the message and stopped.  Then during the show, one of the males spat his drink out, laughing at something one of his companions had said. My wife took the brunt of it to the side of her face, while a lady in front of her stood up and turned around to give him an absolute bollocking. As I was debating whether to notify security – I wasn’t too sure what had happened, or whether it was accidental or a malicious act – one of their party returned from the bar and passed my wife and I a whiskey and coke each to apologise.

I appreciated this greatly – but the exchange did take me by surprise and as a result I missed Roger singing my favourite lines from Wish You Were Here: ‘Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war / For a lead role in a cage?’

Oh well, maybe next time (and I hope there will be a next time)..

I don’t know The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking too well, despite having heard it a number of times. I really need to listen to it more – and probably through headphones so I can pick up on all the little nuances and snippets of dialogue. It’s an album that’s crying out for an accompanying film (like Alan Parker’s 1982 film of The Wall), and while such a project was initially mooted, nothing has emerged in the subsequent 35 years.

Hit: 5:01 am (The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Part 10)

Hidden Gem: 4:47 am (The Remains of Our Love)

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Rocks In The Attic #288: Pink Floyd – ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’ (1973)

RITA#288If there’s one thing that I just cannot understand about people who don’t listen to music regularly, it’s their lack of commitment. The Dark Side Of The Moon is a great example of an album that a lot of people own – it is thought around fifty million copies have been sold worldwide – but it’s also an album that for an overwhelming majority of the people who own a copy, it’s probably the only Pink Floyd album they own.

If you love an album so much, why would you not seek out more? I think if you go either way from this album – onwards with Wish You Were, Animals and The Wall; or backwards with Meddle, Obscured With Clouds and Atom Heart Mother – there are a run of seven very strong albums, each with their own strengths and highlights (but perhaps none with the universality and perfection of Dark Side). Are people just lazy or do they just want to avoid hearing a Pink Floyd record that’s a little rougher around the edges?

Personally, I prefer Wish You Were Here to this, and I even prefer the earlier albums from Atom Heart Mother onwards, but I can see why people love Dark Side so much. It’s one of those LPs that offers so much to the listener, and like a lot of Floyd’s other material it rewards repeat plays – a spin of this record through a pair of headphones uncovers a wealth of treasures that can otherwise go unnoticed through a stereo.

I’ve never been a fan of lyrics – my preference is always to put the music first – but Roger Waters’ lyrics are always a treat. This passage from Time is a great example of his skill and strength as a poet:

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking,
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Hit: Money

Hidden Gem: Breathe

Rocks In The Attic #135: Pink Floyd – ‘Meddle’ (1971)

Rocks In The Attic #135: Pink Floyd - ‘Meddle’ (1971)My favourite Pink Floyd album changes all the time. When I first started listening to them, Meddle was easily my favourite as it didn’t come prepackaged with a load of hype and expectancy like their later albums. I’d say the same for the Obscured By Clouds soundtrack too – another hidden gem in their back-catalogue.

You can hear the beginnings of Dark Side Of The Moon on Meddle too, in the close-knit harmonies of David Gilmour and Rick Wright’s vocals. If they hadn’t recorded Dark Side, and instead gone on to record umpteen albums like Meddle, I’d be a very happy man; but I’d also be very sad at losing Dark Side, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall from that parallel universe.

Right now, and for maybe the past year or so, Wish You Were Here has been my favourite Floyd album.  That doesn’t mean I still don’t enjoy Meddle though. I love its laid-back attitude, and the low-key approach to the song choices – as though they just recorded what seemed to fall out of them at the time. I also like the fact that they decided to fill one side of the record up with just one song – albeit a 23-minute song.

In terms of album covers, it might be one of their most overlooked, but I love it. On the outside cover, a super close-up photograph of a human ear, overlaid with a lighting effect projected onto ripples of water; on the inner gatefold, a warts and all black and white shot of the band – essentially just a photograph, but one of my favourites.

Hit: One Of These Days

Hidden Gem: A Pillow Of Winds

Rocks In The Attic #96: Pink Floyd – ‘Animals’ (1977)

Rocks In The Attic #96: Pink Floyd - ‘Animals’ (1977)It doesn’t surprise me, but it always saddens me, that this album tends to get a bit brushed to the side. The latest round of Pink Floyd remastering has thrown up 3 relatively hefty box sets of Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall, and even though this album comes along in that run of albums, it hasn’t been treated with the same love and attention.

Unfortunately for this album, it doesn’t have a hit like Money or Wish You Were Here, or something throwaway like Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 to attract casual listeners to. In fact, casual listeners would also be wary of the album as it only has five tracks (and if you told them two of those tracks were under two minutes in length, they’d throw the album back at you and demand a better rate of songs per dollar.

On hearing the album, it really isn’t the most accessible of their 70s output so you can sort of understand why it isn’t as ingrained in popular culture as its neighbours. Aside from the orchestral suite that opens Atom Heart Mother, Animals really is the most progressive thing they put out in that decade. The songs really shy away from traditional verse and chorus structures, with only a sprinkling of passages repeated here and there. The other major difference between Animals and its predecessors is that Roger Waters is almost exclusively the lead vocalist throughout the album. The harmonic dual vocals between David Gilmour and Rick Wright that emerged on Meddle and was cemented on Dark Side took a back seat on Wish You Were Here, with Gilmour sharing duties with Waters. On Animals, Waters sings on each of the 5 tracks, and appears to be almost exclusively leading the band, paving the way for his complete direction on The Wall and The Final Cut.

Great album cover too – one of Storm Thorgerson’s best.

Hit: Pigs On The Wing 1

Hidden Gem: Sheep