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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Pink Floyd Draws Two Generations to the Coliseum

April 18, 1988|MIKE BOEHM | Times Staff Writer

The Pink Floyd pig first floated into Damon Premer's consciousness when he was 9 years old.

"My parents took me to the 'Animals' tour. I remember a big pink pig floating around," the 19-year-old apprentice plumber from Culver City recalled Friday before the British band's Los Angeles Coliseum concert.

"My parents were hard-core Pink Floyd fans. I remember listening to it when I was younger, and it was just weird music to me. Then you get older, and you start understanding the lyrics. The high school kids growing up like Pink Floyd because it signifies rebellion, it signifies the '60s. Now that I've matured a little, it's for personal pleasure. I listen to them when I want to relax."

Premer was one of 60,000 or so fans who had come to the Coliseum to see Pink Floyd--with pig and other familiar icons from past stage shows, but without Roger Waters, the band's bassist, lyricist and longtime leader.

While Damon sat in the stands with his girlfriend, his father watched from a premium seat on the floor that he'd bought through a ticket broker.

Dallas Premer, 48, a fan since Pink Floyd's early days in the '60s as pioneers of British progressive rock, said he remains keen on the band's latest work, "A Momentary Lapse of Reason"--the first Pink Floyd album without Waters.

"I find myself playing it all the time, it's very hypnotic music," he said during intermission. His only complaint about the show's first half--devoted mainly to the new album--was that the shouting of younger fans had made it hard to concentrate and fall into the proper Floyd-induced reverie.

From pre-show chats with concert-goers, it was clear that Pink Floyd, besides establishing a musical legacy of spacey but melodic rock delivered with high-tech prowess, has become a legacy in itself, with one generation of listeners helping to indoctrinate the next.

High in section six, four juniors from Yucca Valley High School were able to run down the fine points of Pink Floyd albums dating from before they were born 17 years ago. All said they began listening to the band as third-graders in 1980, when Pink Floyd's single, "Another Brick in the Wall," hit No. 1.

"When I got into 'The Wall,' my dad said, 'That's nothing, you ought to hear all their old stuff,' " said Christian Harlow, whose father couldn't make it to the show, but had asked his son to bring back a souvenir T-shirt.

Like several of the most avid and knowledgeable Floyd fans interviewed before the show, Harlow and his friends had some misgivings about Waters' absence. But even without Waters, they agreed, it promised to look and sound like an authentic Pink Floyd spectacle.

"The music sounds the same, no matter who's putting it out," said Adam Grandi, one of the Yucca Valley contingent. "As long as they can entertain. I'm really happy that this is happening."

Pink Floyd, now commanded by singer-guitarist David Gilmour, was returning for this near-capacity stadium date after selling out five shows at the 16,000-seat Sports Arena last fall. Friday's 2 1/2-hour show may have given more fans a chance to say they had witnessed a Pink Floyd spectacular in person, but it wasn't much of a spectacle.

Indoors last year, the Floyd had come up with some credible answers to the questions everyone was asking about the reformed lineup's claim to authenticity--a claim Waters is contesting in a lawsuit over his former band mates' right to perform under the name Pink Floyd. A sometimes gorgeous array of lights, lasers and video projections on a screen behind the band had filled the arena space, augmenting music that was crisply performed and sonically superb.

At the Coliseum, in a show virtually unchanged from last fall, the band vaunted for technological quality failed to adjust the scale of its performance to the larger venue and suffered a dismal technical defeat.

For listeners on the sides, the sound was clear but completely lacking in the physical punch needed for a powerful rock concert. Those in the far-center reaches got to experience some sound force, but what they heard was a garble. The sheets and beams of light that had been so effective indoors were swallowed up in the outdoor expanse--at least when seen from a side angle. The video backdrop appeared no bigger than the one Pink Floyd used indoors, and the images projected on it were too puny to be made out from most vantage points.

Some of Pink Floyd's momentary lapses were almost laughable. One of the big special effects, an exploding, airborne hospital bed, fizzled like a dud firecracker.

As for the flying pig, it moved forward and backward on its tether, inert and without menace. Given the disparity between the show's quality and the amount of money Pink Floyd must have raked in, a cash cow might have been more appropriate.

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