BC Place Stadium, Vancouver

June 25, 26, 1994

JOHN MACKIE, Vancouver Sun

Pink Floyd have made a career out of upping the ante in stadium rock. But they’ve out-done themselves with the audio-visual spectacular they’ve put together for the tour supporting their latest album, The Division Bell.

In a nod to their psychedelic roots, the Floyd open the show with the mind-melting acid-rock of Astronomy Domine. While the band grooves on the astral plane, a giant screen flashes shots of planets zooming past and liquid amoeba shapes squiggling and jiggling in time with the music.

But the show really clicks into overdrive for he more recent Learning to Fly. Search lights flash over the audience, birds seem to fly out of the screen, and the Hollywood Bowl-shaped stage is enveloped by blazing lights that make it look like it’s a ring of fire.

The lighting is unbelievably vivid ad rich: at one point, the colours fade from a brilliant red glow to orange-yellow, like a real-life tequilla sunrise. Later on, the stage is bathed in rippling shades of blue, making it look like the band is playing ‘neath a giant aquarium.

Giant (inflatable) pigs pop out of giant mailboxes on each side of the stadium. The world’s biggest mirror ball is hauled out in the middle of the stadium to send shimmering beams of light to every nook and cranny of the venue.

In short, it’s the kind of show that puts "spectacle" into "spectacular." And it’s the perfect accompaniment to the Floyd’s epic, sweeping soundscapes.

Saturday night, they brought their razzle dazzle to BC Place Stadium before 52,000 fans. (They drew about the same amount of people for a second show Sunday.) It was a real gathering of the tribes: there were aging acidheads, hip stockbrokers, and thousands upon thousands of kids who probably weren’t even born when the band’s visionary founder, Syd Barrett, was tuning in, turning on and dropping out in the late ‘60s.

They were treated to almost three hours of music, what amounted to two whole shows. The first half was made up of latter-day material culled from their two post-Roger Waters albums. After an intermission, the band returned with a greatest-hits set, including a large chunk of their mega-album, Dark Side of the Moon (which has sold some 28 million copies, and is still selling a million records a year two decades after it’s release).

The lights were more dazzling in the first half, but the best music came in Round II. The Dark Side stuff was rendered absolutely perfectly, in classic Floydian quadrophonic sound. (The cash registers at the beginning of Money ka-chinged from one end of the stadium to the other – an old trick, but still effective.)

Highlights included the dreamy paranoia of Us and Them and sweeping, majestic versions of Shine On You Crazy Diamond and Wish You Were Here. All were accompanied by strangely intriguing films of surreal, Floydian weirdness, but what really made them click was the stratospheric guitar stylings of David Gilmour and Tim Renwick. As the music soared up and up and up, I damn near thought BC Place was going to lift up off the ground and soar through the cosmos.

But then the drugs wore off. Oops, sorry, just kidding.