Roger Waters, Alamodome, San Antonio, June 13
Alamodome, San Antonio, June 13 "So ya ... thought ya ... might like to ... go to the show!" They did indeed. Single mothers and their teenage sons, gang members with boxer shorts hanging out of their droopy drawers like fanny packs. Couples galore -- old and young. September grayhairs accompanied by May nubiles. "Are there any queers in the theatre tonight?" One or two certainly. And a lot of Mexicans. "Put 'em up against the Wall." That's precisely where they wanted to be, up against the giant pink pig and "In the Flesh" insignia scrawled across the stagewide video backdrop. When the arena lights clicked off in quick succession and a familiar, bombastic, rock & roll overture brought the modest corner configuration of San Antonio's Enormodome to its feet, "In the Flesh" roared to life like Ronald Reagan's Prometheus Unbound. Alienation turned to adoration when a tall figure dressed in black climbed the platform behind the stage, and reaching the microphone dead in the middle, struck a fascist pose. With the second song, "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)," came the desired proletarian chant: "We don't need no education!" Subjugation completed -- 8:15pm. Down below, stage left, the spotlight found another rock god, plugging in his guitar among a drummer, two keyboardists, and three backup singers. Before you realized there were actually three guitarists onstage, Doyle Bramhall II dashed off a perfect David Gilmour solo. Threaded like Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page circa 1970, tight, black-velvet pants embroidered up the sides with mariachi designs and matching shirt open to his midriff to reveal a huge silver chain and fist-big, stone-encrusted horseshoe, Doyle Bramhall II embodied everything that prompted Roger Waters to ask "Mother should I build the Wall?" more than 20 years ago. In the liner notes to the nostalgic shrug of Is There Anybody Out There?, a new, 2-CD live compilation of Wall shows from 1980-81 featuring Pink Floyd's last Waters/Gilmour collaboration, Waters writes about being onstage during the Animals tour and spitting in the face of a fan who'd scaled the stage in a state of religious fervor: "I realized that what has once been a worthwhile and manageable exchange between us (the band) and them (the audience) had been utterly perverted by scale, corporate avarice, and ego." Of course, Waters' dark satire on the idolatry and subsequent isolationary response of the rock & roll experience has only fueled the mythic, larger-than-life nature of arena shows such as this. And no one was larger than life than former Arc Angel/ex-local Bramhall, garnishing set openers such as "Mother," "Wish You Were Here," and "Welcome to the Machine" with stingingly precise guitar work. Ending a wobbly one-hour first set with "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" ("That, of course, was for Syd"), Waters, looking like a distinguished, gray-haired mortician in his handsome black suit, sang "Remember when you were young? You shone like the sun" in a wistful fashion that made it impossible not to rest one's gaze on young Bramhall's haloesque dark curls, the guitarist giving off an all-but-blinding rock-star aura. Pink had not stayed back at the hotel. Following a 15-minute intermission, Waters and his nine-piece crew wasted no time blasting off into "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun," before seguing into a Dark Side of the Moon suite, which included "Breathe in the Air," "Time," and the completely Bramhall-sung "Money." In fact, throughout the second set, the left-handed axeman, who recently had two tunes covered on the new B.B. King/Eric Clapton pairing Riding With the King, sang all the Gilmour parts. The last third of the show, Bramhall receded into the shadows a bit, Waters wading through solo material from Radio K.A.O.S. and his most recent solo album, Amused to Death, which on this night was the 55-year-old Pink Floyd founder's strongest showing; his singing and involvement with the material was clearly more passionate than on the group's "classic rock" nuggets. With "Comfortably Numb" as set-closer, Bramhall trading verses with Waters, and then ascending the backrise behind the stage for a guitar duel with ex-Thin Lizzy axegod Snowy White, the Wall had not been broken down. It was higher and stronger than ever, and atop it, Doyle Bramhall II looked like it was exactly where he belonged.