The first thing that got my attention when having knowledge that this album was being recorded, was the opportunism of making it coincide with the release of "Is there Anybody out there?" (by the way, the sound technician is also the same one: James Guthrie, although the result in this case is quite worse). However, the wide selection of pieces I knew he was going to present us made me happy, even more when some of them had never been recorded live. Waters, a genius that we could include in the group of unsociable maniacs, after the fiasco of his solo career, seems to wants to ride the train of easy business, releasing a live album that is always a guarantee of success. Until here everything -sadly- is the usual. The problem comes when one thinks about the question: did he attack this work under the best conditions? The answer is immediate: in what refers to his masterfulness with the strings, he still has it; but in the vocal side, deficiencies are incredible. He still has that magnificent and unmistakable depresive-tormented voice, but he cannot force his vocal chords in the least, and in those cases a feminine choir helps him.
He got the help for this recording of Doyle Bramhall II (voices and guitar), Graham Broad (percussion), Jon Carin (keyboards, lap steel, programming, guitar and voices), Andy Fairweather Low (guitar, bass and voices), Katie Kissoon (voices), Susannah Melvoin (voices), P P Arnold (voices), Andy Wallace (hammond and keyboards) and Snowy White (guitar). The songs we hear in these two long CDs are:
In The Flesh (4:41)
The Happiest Days Of Our Lives (1:37)
Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 (5:52)
Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert (0:52)
Southampton Dock (2:17)
Pigs On The Wing, Part 1 (1:18)
Welcome To The Machine (6:55)
Wish You Were Here (4:58)
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-8) (14:43)
Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (7:11)
Record 2 (75:02):
Breathe (In The Air) (3:23)
The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking Part 11 (Aka 5:06 AM Every Stranger´s Eyes) (5:20)
Perfect Sense (Parts I And II) (7:26)
The Bravery of Being Out Of Range (5:04)
Its A Miracle (8:12)
Amused To Death (9:25)
Brain Damage (4:06)
Comfortably Numb (8:08)
Each Small Candle (9:04)
I believe that you do not need to read a detailed analysis of each one of the songs, more than enough known by any lover of this music. As I have commented Waters didn't arrive in the best vocal conditions to record this work, so all the pieces were restructured in their interpretation, giving entrance to choirs in those fragments that Roger needed. Apart from this the variations are not too attractive, being however an achievement the integration of a wide range of songs inside a unique atmosphere and conjunction. In this way, chronologically we find that "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" is one of the few marvels of this CD; with an impressive percussion and the interesting inclusion of a sax previously to psychedelic moments of high quality, it saves the exam of the live arrangements. One cannot tell the same of the themes of "Dark Side Of The Moon" that sound practically similar to the studio version, and on which we can only highlight the percussion that opens "Time".
With regard to the pieces of "Wish You Were Here", these suffer more modifications, highlighting "Welcome To the Machine" with moments of great mightiness by the hammond, "Wish You Were Here" sees even its melody changed acquiring a more nostalgic atmosphere, but "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" disappoints with a guitar that sounds rough, too gross. As for "Animals" there is not more merit than playing alive the extensive "Dogs" that I guess was a nice surprise for the audience but not so much for us now.
Of "The Wall", after a not well recorded and quite distorted "In The Flesh", a simply good interpretation of the pair "The Happiest Days Of Our Lives", "Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2" the most interesting thing is "Mother", excellently played alive with the different changes of lead voice and "Comfortably Numb" a Gilmourian piece in which nobody hoped Waters could enter and that he saves with relative dignity, but..., but he misses something, as Gilmour is too difficult to replace. "The Final Cut" is one of better treated albums in this recording: in the first place "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert" that opens up the magnificent atmosphere that accompanies to the rhythm played by a military band in "Southampton Dock"; but you suffer when expecting "the Final Cut" song, the piece ends.
Of his solo production easier for him- the quality of pieces such as "The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking Part 11 (5:06 AM - Every Stranger´s Eyes)" must be acknowledged, the enthusiasm of the audience participating in "Perfect Sense (Parts I And II)", the romanticism and simplicity of "It´s a Miracle", but "Each Small Candle" is not at the level of the expectations raised; with a beginning copied of "Sheep" (that delightful second song of the B side of "Animals"), that then develops into less interesting atmospheres a la "Radio KAOS" I don't believe that this is what we expected from him after so many years.
In short, an album whose value resides in the wide selection of songs included more than in its interest as a "live" album or a sample of the new production of Waters. It could be thought of as a compilation or retrospective of the career of this man, to which, nevertheless, we will always be grateful for the wonderful moments he provided us.