For about 15 minutes, we stared at the back of a jacket-clad person sitting on the beach looking out to sea. The sea was crushing, the blades of grass blew softer, sometimes harder in the wind. She changed only a little her seating position. Songs sounded from the speakers, which I would classify in the direction of the Balkans. After about 15 minutes, the sky above the sea suddenly began to turn blood red. The 9 members band (keyboard, guitars, bass, organ + synths, drums and 2 background singers) entered the stage and started with the Pink Floyd song “Breathe”.
The legendary Pink Floyd
Today I had the chance to see ex-Pink Floyd member Roger Waters live for the first time on his current “Us + Them Tour”. Do you know Pink Floyd? I admit that apart from the fact that Roger Waters’ “The Wall Live” tour was a lot to talk about and my colleague ‘s raving about him, I had no idea of him or the British rock band.
But why not taking the chance and learn something more about him and the legendary Pink Floyd? I did not really listen to beforehand. I just went there and to get surprised. Maybe I should have at least read in the Pink Floyd / Roger Waters story. I actually felt a little over run then…
A few facts that might have been good to know:
- The Britsiche rock band was founded in 1965 by Syd Barret, Richard Wright and Roger Waters under the name The Pink Floyd Sound.
- Their style of music consists of influences from progressive rock, blues, jazz, classical and new music
- In 1967 they released their first album “The Pipers At The Gates Of Dawn”
- In 1968, they changed the name to Pink Floyd
- In 1968, David Gilmore joined the band, who then replaced singer Syd Barrett (who had mental problems)
- Their music and the visual design of their records and stage performances were distinctive and novel
- Their album “Atom Heart Mother” (released in 1970) was their first No. 1 album in the UK
- The lyrics between 1973 (The Dark Side Of The Moon) and 1983 (The Final Cut) were mostly written by Roger Waters and often dealing critically with social and political issues.
- In 1985 Roger Waters left the band
- After leaving the band Waters went to court against the other band members, because they continued as Pink Floyd. Waters succumbed to the lawsuit and they agreed outside of court in 1987
- Richard Wright died in 2008
- In 2015 David Gilmore confirmed the end of the band
- The band had sold between 260 and 300 million records
- The concept album “The Dark Side Of The Moon” is the world’s third best-selling album and The Wall’s best selling double album
- Roger Waters has been on the “Us + Them tour” since 2017
Something different than usually
Normally, I would prefer places in the front, right in front of the stage. But on Roger Waters “Us + Them Tour” you are definitely better off with seats in the ranks. You will realize why. And we were really lucky and got incredibly good places in sector T1.
The first few songs contained a lot of instrumental parts, many of them solos and not much vocals. When my colleague earlier mentioned progressive rock, I already had my ideas and fears, but they did not come true at all.
Roger Waters played bass and sang. Well, he’s no world-class singer (but even The Rolling Stones are not ;)). But he was supported by two backing singers, dressed in black dresses and blond wigs. And also one of the guitarists took over several lead vocals. In the meantime, the individual songs were so seamlessly intermingled that I quickly lost track of which song it was, despite the existing setlist. This always seemed to be the case with Pink Floyd, and it went through the whole Roger Waters concert.
No aha moments
Meanwhile, the songs were supported by many graphics and images on the huge screen in the background. These were also close-ups of the current concert. So I recognized “Time” by the many clocks that came flying towards us. The sky full of stars obviously belonged to “The Great Gig in the Sky” and went over into “Welcome To The Machine”. For some images, it was not always clear what they say. For others, it was all the clearer.
With “Déjà vu”, “The Last Refugee” and “Picture That” three songs from his current, 2017 released album “Is this the life we really want?” followed. These were the only solo songs during the main set. The rest were Pink Floyd songs. Only later during the encore some songs follow from his latest album. I missed them though.
I had assumed that I would experience some “aha moments” during the concert. At many bands that are longer in the business and I thought I did not know them, I recognized a lot of songs each time. That was not the case with Pink Floyd. “Wish You Were Here” started, cheering went through the audience and I just said to my friend “Ah, one should know that?”;)
If the concert had been political so far, it was all the more from now on. “Happiest Days Of Our Lives” went into “Another Brick In The Wall”. The one and obviously only song that I know by Pink Floyd. When the light came on, kids in orange prison overalls and black cloth sacks over their heads stood on stage. There were kids from Zurich on stage, Waters revealed at the end.
The kids tore the bags from their heads and began to sing, raising their fists in the air and shouting “… Hey! Teachers! Leave us kids alone … “. They also tore off the orange overalls and black T-shirts with white inscriptions “RESIST” appeared. The kids started to march on the spot and finally marched into the break with the background singers. When Roger Waters reached for the microphone to announce the break, I realized it was the first words he spoke to the audience that night.
Also in the break there was “RESIST” on the screen, followed by various political statements. Among them was “Resist Mark Zuckerberg”. The irony here? Probably everyone just checked Facebook during the break and possibly even posted a picture of it on Zuckerberg’s platform 😉
Now it really stars
“Now the show starts!”, my friend said, who had already seen the concert the day before. An urgent warning sound echoed through the arena, red lights blinking. Across the Hallenstadion, across the audience over from the stage to the very back, screens were lowered.
That’s why the seats in front of the stage were not the best for once. Because, what’s the use of sitting under these screens? There has been seen little of this show part. The graphics were an important part of the whole production.
The second part was extremely influenced by politics – the rulers of the world, the war and its victims. The favorite subject obviously Trump. During “Dogs”, the lowered screens were transformed into the factory of “Animal” album art. The piggy hung over it and from the high chimneys came even smoke. One was astonished.
Little info inbetween: Did you know that if you take the Intercity from London Gatwick Airport to Victoria Station, you will pass the factory just before the station? It’s the Battersea Powerstation. I have to pay attention next time.
The song went into “Pigs” after about 10min and the screens turned into a wall of protest against the current US President Trump. I would call it even hate tirade. Colorful colors and graphics flared up, showing defaced and cartoonist Trump images next to the word “charade”. The band wore piggy-masks and drank champagne before Waters himself held up signs with the statements and cheered for them. And suddenly from behind the stage also a huge, colorful piggy balloon with the inscription ” Bleibt menschlich / stay human” came flown and turned his lap around the screen. Conflicting Trump quotes were finally overlaid towards the end and there stood in huge letters across the canvas “Trump is a pig”.
During the last song of the song trilogy, “Money”, it was just as colorful and in addition to Trump, the remaining politicians and rulers of the world received their’s just deserts. The band then continued bluesy with “Us + Them”. And from then on the concert ended for me about 20 minutes before the actual final. I had to catch the train.
Fascinating and oppressive at the same time
Musically, just to listen, I liked the concert to good or very good. It was different than most of the concerts I’m listening to. But with all the guitars or saxophone solos, the flowing bridges and great visuals that was really cool. The colorful, often weird graphics were sometimes hypnotizing. So actually the vibes in the audience were good. Most of the audience seemed to listen very attentively, but also celebrated the band properly.
Mixed with the refugee and war pictures that were clashing on me, I almost felt a little overrun. Right, the whole thing is absolute reality and there is nothing nice to talk about in current world events. I am not at all the person who has the most idea about politics. But I felt it was pretty extreme. One reads and sees all that day out one day in in the media. 2.5 hours to be irrigated with it, sometimes seemed exhausting and overwhelming.
However, it was definitely a big, colorful and impressive spectacle. Most of all, I regret that I did not see the laser pyramid during “Eclipse”.
Information and concert dates for Roger Waters can be found here: rogerwaters.com