The Gunner’s Dream (Sigma 94)
Rosemont Horizon, Chicago, IL, USA – July 26, 1984
Disc 1 (66:20) Intro, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Money, If, Welcome To The Machine, Have A Cigar, Wish You Were Here, Pigs On The Wing, In The Flesh, Nobody Home, Hey You, The Gunner’s Dream
Disc 2 (59:27) The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking; 4:30 am (Apparently They Were Traveling Abroad), 4:33 am (Running Shoes), 4:37 am (Arabs With Knives And West German Skies), 4:39 am (For The Fist Time Today Part 2), 4:41 am (Sexual Revolution), 4:47 am (The Remains Of Our Love), 4:50 am (Go Fishing), 4:56 am (For The First Time Today Part 1), 4:58 am (Dunroamin’, Duncarin’, Dunlivin’), 5:01 am (The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking), 5:06 am (Every Stranger’s Eyes), 5:11 am (The Moment Of Clarity), Band Introductions, Brain Damage, Eclipse
Roger Waters’ fascination with conceptual themes dates back to the late 60’s when as part of the immortal Pink Floyd, put together existing and new music as part of the in-concert project called “The Man and The Journey”. The band’s subsequent records would have at least one number of some length that would be broken down into segments, from “Atom Heart Mother” to “Echoes”, and finally the all album encompassing Dark Side Of The Moon. From there on out it would be Roger’s lyrical vision that would guide the band, the ultimate in his achievements would be The Wall, but fans know that at the same time as that record was being created there was another, one that was rejected by the band and ultimately would become Waters’ first solo record.
The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking was good in concept, a man lost in the realms of an REM sleep pattern having adventures one would have in their youth only to wake up and realize he was only dreaming. Even with the help of a top shelf guitarist like Eric Clapton, Waters had an interesting concept but the music was monotonous and lacked the musical melody of past Floyd releases. The tour to promote the record would find Clapton and a large cache of musicians to accompany his musical vision, even the large circular screen was utilized, Gerald Scarfe even made new films for the events. The tour would not be entirely a success and ticket sales were low in some markets and Clapton would leave after the first main half, but over time there has always been some interest in hearing the shows with Clapton and while Highland and Sirene put out some decent titles all were culled from audience sources.
That’s what makes this new release from Sigma so exciting, we get a complete Pros and Cons show with Eric Clapton on guitar in excellent stereo quality. The sound is simply wondrous and the mix is perfect, the audience is what one would expect and low in the mix but are boisterous and make their presence known.
The release is not without its problems as several faint pops can be heard throughout the recording, they are small and non intrusive but are there nonetheless. The first to release this show was the Mid Valley Label as Lunatic Rave, and as with many of the Japanese specialty releases was priced a little out of my budget, thankfully Sigma answered the call and here we are (if someone out there has a copy please comment on the pops). The concert begins with some instruments checks, there is no official intro but you can certainly feel the Chicago crowd making their presence felt, the band takes the stage with “Set The Controls From The Heart Of The Sun” and barely 30 seconds in you get your first fire works blast and you can tell when Roger takes the stage as the crowd is even louder. I really enjoy the re worked version of the Floyd staple, there are all sorts of sounds that were not as discernable in audience recordings, I found the seabirds particularly interesting and instead of a crazy jam section there is a sax solo and even “Eugene” style shrieks. Clapton’s solo is met with much applause and he delivers a scorching flurry of leads, Roger tells the audience at the songs conclusion “No more fireworks please”, his plea being made to the sound of cash registers heralding “Money”. Clapton puts his own small stamp on the main riff, Roger’s vocals are interesting to hear as I have been listening to a lot of 1972 Floyd shows as of late and am used to David’s vocals. Mel Collins does a great job with the signature sax solo as does Clapton on his solo, injecting the blues feel to perfection.
Roger pulls out “If” from the Atom Heart Mother record, for some reason when listening to this “new” version I could not help but think of Willie Nelson as there is just something about the guitar playing reminiscent of his style. Roger plays the middle trifecta from Wish You Were Here beginning with “Welcome To The Machine”, the band play a great version and Clapton rips an incredible haunting solo to great effect. I wonder how he felt about playing with headphones on as the art works has several shots of him with them on, of course a must when staging this type of production. The songs flow together just like the record, all the little sound snippets are there and “Have A Cigar” sounds fresh and dynamic with a cool jamming type middle section that is most effective. “Wish You Were Here” has a slightly different feel, a bit more up tempo if one could say that but good nonetheless.
The lone track from Animals is “Pigs on the Wing”, simple and gentle it receives a loud ovation from the crowd. The Wall material starts with a muscular “In The Flesh”, Roger gets a little aggressive with the bass as the song seems to evoke that nature. “Nobody’s Home” is a song that Clapton has no problem laying down some sparse but perfect leads over while retaining its feeling of isolation. “Hey You” is the last Wall song and an obvious crowd favorite, for the majority of the people this was the first time hearing this material in the concert setting and they are vocal in their appreciation. The last song of the first set is “The Gunner’s Dream” from the Final Cut, as Pink Floyd never toured in support of the record it is always nice to hear music from that period; the crowd agrees and cheers loudly as the song starts.
The second half of the show is devoted to The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking, played in its entirety, the concert stage breathes life into the piece for me. 4:33 through 4:41 has Roger and his female back up singers stretching out the “Ooh babe” culminating in the fierce blues of 4:41 as Eric plays a sexually charged blues solo that brings down the house. 4:47 has some sound effects that gave me a chuckle as it sounds like a wooden boing that one would hear on Howard Stern, it sounds perfect with the sexual nature of the piece. The middle section drags but is saved by 5:01 am, the title track of the Pros and Cons is a very effective piece of music, strangely melodic and the chorus is wonderfully sung by the back up singers and one can wonder why Roger has not revived the song for one of his solo tours. There is a small cut at the songs end but is very smooth and no music is lost. 5:06 was one that Roger did play, I remember the first time I saw him back in 1999 and he played it then much to my surprise. It was during that performance that I realized who was truly Pink. The band take their bows but the audience is having none of it and cheer loudly, demanding more, they get their just rewards with the “Brain Damage / Eclipse” encore that was standard for the tour, a fitting ending to a wondrous concert and is one that demands many repeated listenings.
The packaging is live shots of the band, I find the red coloring of the cover somewhat drab, that is a minor squabble and the set has a numbered sticker as a small bonus of sorts. All in all an incredibly solid release from Sigma, with the quality of the recording and performance make this a no brainer to recommend, and for Floyd fans must be considered essential.