Spend a night on the 'Dark Side'

Published May 14, 2007

Just what is it about Dark Side of the Moon that has such resonance?

Pink Floyd's landmark 1973 album has attained the status of the mythological, inspiring urban legends that range from ludicrous (EMI built a factory solely to churn out Dark Side CDs) to fascinating (the band used part of the profits to help finance Monty Python and the Holy Grail) to just plain funny (the album famously, if unintentionally, synchs up to The Wizard of Oz).

At a tidy nine tracks and 43 minutes, Dark Side may not sound like your typical magnum opus. But 35-million copies and 741 Billboard chart weeks later, the album still holds a hypnotic sway over listeners. In fact, Pink Floyd is bigger than it has been in years, with an acclaimed one-off reunion at last summer's Live 8 concert leading, in March, to the band's first Rolling Stone cover.

So the news that Pink Floyd mastermind Roger Waters will play the album, start to finish, during his upcoming North American tour must strike rock geeks as nirvana.

Waters, who brings his show to the Ford Amphitheater on Saturday night, will play two sets: A mix of Pink Floyd tunes from classic albums like The Wall and Wish You Were Here, followed by a complete, uninterrupted performance of Dark Side of the Moon. Both sets will incorporate Pink Floyd's trademark otherworldly light displays.

Odds are good you've heard Dark Side at least once in your life. If you haven't ... well, where have you been for the past 34 years?

To get you ready, here's a look at the tracks that make up Dark Side.

1. Speak to Me/Breathe (Breathe In the Air): The first half, Speak to Me, is a melange of sound effects from the rest of the album: voices, a ticking clock, a cash register, a heartlike beat. The slide guitars (Breathe) kick in at around the 1:10 mark, and decades later, its languid melody still pulls weight. For proof, listen to Lucky from Radiohead's epic OK Computer.

2. On the Run: Pink Floyd ratchets up the progginess with a driving, pulsating keyboard solo that runs the length of the track. The sharp footsteps that can be heard racing from left to right early in the song were an idea from the album's producer, Alan Parsons.

3. Time: A cacophony of clock chimes kicks off Time, one of Dark Side's many classic-rock radio mainstays. The song's funky, head-bobbing blues beat builds to an ethereal chorus, then closes with a burning reprise of Breathe.

4. The Great Gig in the Sky: The vocal star of Great Gig is not Waters, but British studio singer Clare Torry, whose orgasmic gospel wail dominates an otherwise placid, piano-based tune.

5. Money: Another long-lasting radio hit, the bluesy Money is notable not just for its chinging cash machine sound effects but also its unusual 7/4 time signature, which transitions in and out of a more standard rock time throughout the song. You don't have to be a drummer to understand it. Just try keeping the beat and you'll see what we mean.

6. Us and Them: Dark Side's longest track is a jazzy reflection on violence that wouldn't sound out of place on an early Billy Joel record. It was composed by keyboardist Rick Wright for use in a film that incorporated footage of student riots at UCLA, but the director ultimately felt the song didn't work.

7. Any Colour You Like: Here's another synth-laden instrumental whose noodly guitar solos, like those of the Grateful Dead, sound like precursors to the hallmarks of modern jam-band rockouts.

8. Brain Damage: Track eight is a trippy, glistening ode to founding singer Syd Barrett, whose mental instability led to his ouster from the band. It's also the song that gave Dark Side its title: "I'll see you," Waters sings in the chorus, "on the dark side of the moon."

9. Eclipse: The album's torch-song finale burns to a close with a single lyric spoken over a fading heartbeat: "There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it's all dark."


Roger Waters

8 p.m. Saturday, Ford Amphitheater, Interstate 4 at U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $25.25-$129.50. (813) 740-2446