There’s a Pink Floyd fan joke that goes like this: Dave Gilmour, Nick Mason and Roger Waters (the three surviving-but-separated members of the original Pink Floyd) somehow manage to get themselves killed at the same time and land up at the Pearly Gates. St Peter comes up and says that since they had been rock musicians and had done very bad things, such as sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, there will be a little test to pass first—they will have to cross a raging torrent. No bridge or boat supplied.
So the three line up (a few feet apart, naturally) and start wading. In about five seconds, Nick is gone, washed away in the icy flood. Roger and Dave walk across. Dave looks guiltily at Roger and says, “Do you think we should have told him about the stepping stones?” and Roger asks, “What stepping stones?”
Yes, the messiah was at Mumbai’s MMRDA grounds on 18 February, and walking over water (musically speaking). But if you had cracked that joke at the VVIP enclosure there, it would have fallen flatter than the beer being dished out in styrofoam glasses.
Because, for Mumbai’s A-list, the megawatts of music being pumped out by the living god of psychedelic-intellectual rock a few metres away was as incidental to the business at hand as Yanni remixed is to a bunch of people at a hotel lobby.
And, what was the business at hand? Why, networking, of course! Hugs had to be exchanged (you don’t know anybody if you have to shake hands), cheeks to be (mwah, mwah) air-kissed.
I am not for a moment suggesting that the city’s movers and shakers circulating in the huge white tent—the tastefully placed stage on the left, so that all those strobe lights and special-effects explosions nearby would not be a distraction—were not aware of Roger Waters, or his contributions to Pink Floyd (he wrote the lyrics for about 80% of the group’s biggest hits before they broke up). After all, almost all of them were of an age, and came from backgrounds where they would have listened, in their formative years, to arguably one of the most seminal and inventive rock bands to have emerged out of Britain in the 1970s.
But that’s life in the fast lane for you. Partying is hard work and time, as Waters reminded the audience in 360-degree surround sound, was ticking away.
The real party was outside, in the cheaper (well, Rs1,000 was the cheapest, but you get my drift) stand-anywhere stalls. And the music? Read this and weep: Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Sheep, Heart of The Sun, Time, Breathe, Brain Damage, Great Gig In The Sky (with a stunning, extended solo by the female backing vocalist), Leaving Beirut (a savage anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-Blair diatribe), Us and Them, Eclipse, Money. And for afters, Just Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) and my special, favourite, story-of-my-life Floyd number—Comfortably Numb.
Actually, it didn’t matter whether you went there because you had to or because you just liked the music. You won’t get too many chances to hear Roger Waters (he is 63) in the flesh, performing numbers from the biggest-selling rock album of all time (Dark Side of the Moon).
As Waters himself says (even if it is on the underside of a giant, pink, inflated pig), habeas corpus matters. A lot.
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