Take all the adjectives I used regarding the concert Pink Floyd did in DC yesterday, add a few superlatives to it, and that might just manage to describe the concert today. What was the difference? Well, yesterday I was in the lower level at the far end. Today I was about twenty rows away from the stage.
I did have an interesting day dealing with scalpers (and doing a bit of it myself). When I called in the morning, Ticketmaster said they still had a few field seats. When I got there at about 3p, it had sold out. I stupidly bought tickets in the mezzanine that was almost parallel to the stage line (I thought the stage would be at the opposite end). Not to fear however, since I sold them immediately (right in front of the counter---in fact, the ticket dude asked us to conduct our transaction around the corner) for a $0.50 profit. Well, I then wandered around and there was someone selling tickets in the mezzanine directly opposite the stage (this is the same thing we had yesterday, but we were in the lower level and to the right). for $25. I decided this was a good deal and I went for it.
This all happened by about 4p, and so I read my comic books killing the time [Ticking away, the moments that make up the dull day, you fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way]. At about 8p I decide to stretch my legs and this guy comes up to me and asks me if I want a ticket. I look, and lo and behold, the were VIP tickets in B2, row 6, directly in the middle and about 10 rows in front of the soundboard. I happily paid him $50 and gave him my upper level ticket (so the ticket cost me $75 total, which I think is fine since I'd have paid about $65 for it anyway).
Okay, from the first it was obvious things would be different. I could actually see the two drumsets clearly (and if Gilmour smiled or not). I could see all the wires connecting the various props and this sorta took away some of the magic. Sitting far back, you don't see all this; all you see are the lights appearing somewhat magically from the end of the stage dome. But here you can see the ribs that holds the various sorts of lamps. The laser canopy looks like a roof over the band's head when viewed from afar, but from close up you can see the metal framework. Of course, it's good to see how things work (the hooks on the pigs in One of these Days were obvious too, but I think this was because of the glint---they could painted it black---they do pack them away quite efficiently though). You can also see the wires as the round screen is lifted and placed back, but this you can't from afar. From afar, you get a more global (holistic) picture---you cannot (even if you wanted too) look at the members of the band or the dancers in any detail (unless you have binoculars)---and you are forced to watch the light show; from near, the band is distracting. You also don't get to see the written text at the foot of the stage when you are up close: "hey, teacher! leave those kids alone!".
The weed definitely is much more powerful on the field. I am still on a contact high. The lasers themselves are much better in the front---you can see the beams shoot off into space on top of you. The mirror ball also works well, since you feel dizzy after a while. The pyrotechnics also are good (I missed the fireworks in the end yesterday but caught it today) and you can feel the heat from the flames. A couple of people set off bottle rockets (morons---I am living proof that it's a stupid thing to do). And the sound is by far the best the closer you get to the soundboard. I walked around a bit and if you were on top of the soundboard stage, then I assume you feel the best effect of the quad sound. Still, being close to centre of the field brings out that effect well (being in the back you miss out the speaker on top of you I think). The quad sound effect that took place during Money (the cash register and the money dropping seemed to circle around the stage).
The change in the setlist was that Coming back to Life was played instead of Poles Apart. Gilmour did enjoy himself---you could see him smiling at the crowd every so often (and during Run Like Hell he was in a good mood (maybe because it was ending). Nick Mason's flourescent drumsticks are cool. Gilmour made a boo-boo in the 2nd stanza of Money. He said: "Money, grab that cash with both hands and make a stash" instead of "Money, it's a hit don't give me that do goody-good bullshit." I didn't realise Mason did so little drumming---still he did it all on Astronomy Domine. But it was clearer than ever before that it is Gilmour that is really Pink Floyd. And High Hopes is a brilliant song---someone said they were converted by the live version, but it has been my favourite for a while (in fact, I feel The Division Bell would've been a greater hit had it beeen released first instead of Keep Talking)---and the live version does really rock!
Gilmour says "indeed" too much ("thank you very much, indeed"). He also says the same thing over and over again (not within a concert, but yesterday and today he said the same things---he introduced What do You want from Me and Comfortably Numb the same way). He does play as though every note matters (as I remarked yesterday). What's the name of the thing he plays sitting down?
I did have a good talk with one of the scalpers about why he does this, why the cops turn a blind eye, and so on. It was interesting, from a psychoanalytic perspective.
Summary: watch this show a few times in order to make the experience more whole. I do believe there are many advantages to doing it both ways, but there is something to be said for being close up to the stage---it's a real high!