Saturday, August 22, 2009
Ghosts of the Orange Bowl: Pink Floyd
Over the years, I've had the opportunity to see many concerts at the Orange Bowl. As a classic rock nut, I've seen the Rolling Stones, the Eagles, Van Halen and Bruce Springsteen perform on numerous occasions at the OB. But perhaps the most memorable show was turned in by the British psychedelic art-rock ensemble Pink Floyd. On November 1, 1987, Pink Floyd performed its first and only concert at the Orange Bowl. It was an amazing visual spectacle of laser lights and sound that drew nearly 45,000 people.
To be honest, Pink Floyd is not close to being my favorite band. At times I've found their music to be slow, dull and even boring. Their sound was often described as dour, gloomy and melancholy. I always kind of perceived them to be a band you could only listen to while stoned. But while I didn't always appreciate Pink Floyd as a great band, there was no denying it had produced some of rock's greatest masterpiece albums like "Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wall". I did like some of their songs. My personal favorite has always been "Wish You Were Here", which happens to be the first song I ever learned to play on guitar. The only reason I attended the concert was because my friend had an extra ticket. I was a 17-year-old high school senior at the time and it was an excuse to get out of the house, hang out with my friends and watch thousands of stoned-out people act crazy.
From the onset, this concert had a different feel than any show I've attended. Like all concerts at the Orange Bowl, the stage was setup in the east end of the stadium. The weather was perfect for Pink Floyd. The skies were gloomy and it rained the entire evening. But I was astounded by the performance itself. The band played almost letter-perfect on stage. You could tell these musicians were perfectionists. But the most impressive part was the visual presentation, complete with lasers and a huge circular video screen that hovered over the stage. The band's lineup consisted of guitarist and singer David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason, keyboardist Richard Wright and an assembly of backup singers and musicians. Original band member and principal songwriter Roger Waters was no longer with the band. But if Waters' absence was felt, nobody seemed to notice. The atmosphere was electric. Unlike most outdoor and open air stadiums, the Orange Bowl has always had good acoustics for concerts. The sound completely filled the air and was clear. Pink Floyd performed all of its classic songs along with selections from its then supporting album "A Momentary Lapse of Reason".
The tour itself was a huge financial success. Pink Floyd was the second highest grossing band of 1987, bringing in $60 million from the U.S. tour. Prior to the 1987 tour, it had been seven long years since the band had peformed live. It was obvious there was still huge demand from its fans. Their following is loyal and fanatical. I never looked at Pink Floyd quite the same way since that show.