Culture Vulture almost forgot about the big Live 8 concert that was broadcast Saturday on VH1 and MTV. But sometime after the lawns were mowed, the cat box cleaned, the rugs vacuumed, the garden (very slightly) weeded, and the patio swept free of accumulated dog sheddings, I remembered: “Oh yeah, there’s that big concert to end poverty on TV today. Probably ought to check it out.”
Somehow the event smacked more of being a mass-marketing scheme than a subversive assault on the crassness of corporate culture. But, what the hey? It was the middle of Saturday afternoon and my chores were done, so I turned it on anyway.
And, boy, was I glad I did! The TV warmed up to the strains of David Gilmour’s raspy-throated exhortation of “Money,” off of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Holy Shiite! I’d forgotten that this was going to be the first reunion in decades of the the most famous version of Pink Floyd. And yes, there was the grumpy old Roger Waters, smiling up a storm and hammering his Fender bass as he did a rolling-shouldered rock star dance while locking gleeful eyes with drummer Nick Mason. I’m not kidding, I actually teared up to see this moment of pure rock & roll communion, even as I was thinking, “Jeez, they’re playing ‘Money.’ That probably means they’re about done. Crap. Oh well, at least I caught a bit of it.”
But then, saints be praised, Gilmour and Waters switched to acoustic guitars and began a heartrendingly gorgeous version of “Wish You Were Here,” which Waters took the time to dedicate “To everybody who can’t be here. And especially Syd.” That blew the gasket on the waterworks again. I guess I was in a sentimental mood. After that, the band went straight into “Comfortably Numb,” my favorite Floyd composition and a great launching pad for one of Gilmour’s wrenching, blues-based guitar solos. Words cannot express the exasperation and horror that gripped me when, right in the middle of the apocalyptic crescendo of Gilmour’s solo, the cameras cut away and the sound cut to nearly nothing so a couple of vacuous MTV “personalities” could comment on the action: “Well, this is an historic moment in rock history. Right, Whoozabella?”
“It sure is, Whatcherass. Pink Floyd, together for the first time in two decades. All to put an end to poverty. And now here’s a word from our sponsors.” All of this, mind you, while the band is delivering multiple aural orgasms in the volume-suppressed background and I am yelling at the TV, “Shut the fuck up and let those guys play, you shit-for-brains pieces of crap.” And miracle of miracles, they actually cut back to the band just as Gilmour was soaring toward the stratosphere and Waters was looking happier than any other chronically depressed senior citizen on the face of the Earth. They cut to commercial as the band continued ascending the heights. Unbelievable.
When I tuned back in later, the cameras were panning around the aftermath of the Philadelphia and Hyde Park concert scenes, and there were literally acres of plastic garbage scattered everywhere. It made me want to personally slap the face of every litterbug rock fan on the planet. Which probably isn’t what Bob Geldorf had in mind when he organized the concerts. But Floyd was truly awesome despite it all.