Roger Waters Live review by Ryan Beardsley

Ok, this is a tricky one. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a show with a picket line outside the venue but I guess it was just a matter of time. 

‘I love Pink Floyd but I can’t stand Roger’s politics, then you might do well to f**k off to the bar’

This was the message broadcast to a sold-out o2 Arena as a prelude to the night’s festivities. Truthfully I’m on board with most of Waters’ ideals, I just don’t want to be bombarded with them while he’s on stage, I’d rather listen to him play some Pink Floyd songs, and I don’t think I’m alone.

The show is incredible. As a visual spectacle it’s absolutely inspired, musically it’s spine-tingling and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

Nearly everything is gargantuan in scope, massive screens, huge Brechtian slogans and animated visuals that wouldn’t look out of place in a Best Animated Feature, all the stops have certainly been pulled out and no expense spared.

But it’s the quieter moments that truly hit home, Wish You Were Here is accompanied by an on-screen narration of how Waters and Syd Barrett became Pink Floyd, one of the few occasions in the performance where things feel truly personal and not bombastic, a triumph.

There are certain songs that transcend music and can transport you to a time in your life, Shine On You Crazy Diamond will always encapsulate this for me and I suspect many others, the performance here was akin to a religious experience and if the world still exists in 100 years (Roger doesn’t seem to think this will be the case) then I’m sure the song’s power will remain.

After a brief rest, Part 2 is The Wall and Waters triumphantly returns to the stage draped in the costume that kicked off the recent controversy, when really anyone with the slightest knowledge of Pink Floyd’s history can dismiss this as the nonsense that it is.

But again let’s not get distracted and instead focus on an amazing spectacle, as we’re transported to a dystopian future, Waters as dictator in chief whilst a flying pig emblazoned ‘F**k The Poor’ floats across the arena, I think you would need to be more than a little dense to think any of this was to be taken literally.

Back to the music and Money and Us and Them hit hard, everyone in attendance knows they’re seeing a once-in-a-lifetime show and behave accordingly, it usually annoys me but I can’t even blame them on this occasion for having the phones out, as the visuals are so spectacular. 

A word for Seamus Blake on saxophone, he threatens to steal the show on more than one occasion with spine-tingling solos given full exposure to the 20,000 in attendance, the masses holding their breath and transfixed by sheer talent, incredible.

The only critique I can really muster is for a couple of Waters’ more recent compositions, the well-meaning is there but in truth, The Bar, which sadly ends the show with a bit of whimper could easily be one of those comedy David Brent songs, this is emphasised further with the lyrics smashed all over the huge screens and I couldn’t help but cringe a little.

Regardless, a true spectacle for the eyes and the ears. Waters mentioned on a couple of occasions that this is likely his last show in London and it might well be the last chance you have to see him and his band anywhere, you’d be a fool to miss it.

You can find tickets to the Manchester show here.

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