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Roger Waters

Artist: Rogers Walters

Venue: AO Arena Manchester

Date: 20 June 2023

Thank you Roger Waters for your contribution to the arts, a true legend.


This Is Not A Drill First Farewell Tour

This was one of those ever-increasing concerts, which was ticketless. Entry to the arena was gained by scanning a barcode on your mobile phone. Better for the environment? I’m not convinced, and instead of making a smooth access as it should, it was rather chaotic. Inside the concourse, the queues for refreshments were ridiculous, making movement around the arena similar to rush hour on the tube.

We finally made our way to the nose-bleed location of our seats. I would estimate that the arena was approximately ninety percent full, with all sections heavily populated by fans; however, there were a few empty seats (including the whole row directly behind my wife and I that was completely empty). The latter was probably a combination of austerity, a certain football match featuring the blue half of the city, and Waters’ very political beliefs. Indeed, moments before the band hit the stage, words across the big screens suggested that if you only came to listen to Pink Floyd music and not Roger’s political views you should fuck off to the bar!

For this tour the outspoken Mr Waters put on a show in the round. The black stage was configured in a crucifix-shape with four large screens intersecting the centre. Tonight’s performance was very much a cinematical experience as well as a musical one.

The band took to the stage similar to an orchestra, walking up to the stage and taking their respective positions, and as the opening song started the screens elevated to afford most people a view of all four corners of the performance areas. Waters’ re-imagined working of the classic ‘Comfortably Numb’, a song normally reserved for the final song of the evening, worked well to a backdrop of images of war-torn cities. At the end of the song the image of the pig floating in front of the moon across a desolate landscape really set the ambience for the next two hours.

The sombre mood soon took a different turn as the arena burst into life with the introduction to ‘Another Brick In The Wall’.

There was a lot more Waters’ solo material and talking to the audience than the previous tour.

Images of several world leaders, past and present were portrayed alongside the title “War Criminal” during ‘The Powers That Be’. Powerful, and thought-provoking, whether you agree or not. ‘The Bar’ written by Waters during COVID also featured a lengthy monologue by the musician; however, as much as he wanted to turn the arena into a bar/pub, it’s just too vast.

It was noticeable that the noise levels from the crowd reached fever pitch during the Pink Floyd classics. Waters paid homage to his late, great friend Syd Barrett with ‘Have A Cigar’, ‘Wish You Were Here’ (which had the hairs on my arm stood on end), and the wonderful ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’. The first set was concluded with the George Orwell / Aldous Huxley inspired ‘Sheep’ from the 1977 Pink Floyd opus ‘Animals’, my most played album in the last ten years. The latter included a large inflatable sheep circumnavigating the arena!

I was hoping that the knobheads sat in front of us would not return for the second half of the show, as they continually drank and talked throughout the whole evening. In hindsight, I wish we had relocated to one of the empty seats away from these selfish morons!

Set two saw Waters take to the stage in his infamous, long black trench coat adorned with the double hammer insignia, which he first wore for ‘The Wall’ tour back in 1980; flags with the same insignia draped from the ceiling, but those ignoramuses believing Waters was advocating far right-wing Nazism could not be further from the truth. ‘In The Flesh’ was simply breath-taking, as was ‘Run Like Hell’. ‘Money’ drew further crowd delirium; whilst ‘Us & Them’ (my all-time favourite Pink Floyd song) with its striking images on the big screens, had me close to tears.

‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year; it’s not one of the best-selling albums of all-time without reason, and the epic finale to that ground-breaking album was simply stunning. Six white laser triangles appeared, and the colours of the rainbow began to build, with images of persons of all colours, religion and creed filling the screens. To be honest we could have left following the end of ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ to beat the traffic; however, that would have meant missing a fantastic rendition of ‘Two Sets In The Sunset’ from Pink Floyd’s 1983 album ‘The Final Cut’, the last to feature Waters in the band. Dedicated to three people - Bob Dylan (from whom he’d “borrowed” some lyrics), his wife (Kamilah Chavis), and older brother, John, who sadly passed away last year.

A reprise of ‘The Bar’ with his band all stood around brought the evening to a close. In cinematic style the band were introduced via the big screens and then again, by Waters himself as they left the stage, to huge deserved applause, for the final time: backing singers Amanda Belair and Shanay Johnson, Jon Carin (guitars and keyboards), Gus Seyffort (guitars and bass), Seamus Blake (saxophone), Robert Walter (keyboards), Dave Kilminster (guitar), Jonathan Wilson (guitars and vocals) and Joey Waronker (drums). The final musician to leave the stage was the main man himself, Roger Waters (lead vocals, bass, acoustic guitar, piano and political mouthpiece).

The previous ’Us & Them’ tour, five years ago, I found very uplifting and two of the greatest shows I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing. This evening was visually just as spectacular, but far more political and thought-provoking. Now, I have no issues with Roger Waters using music as his platform to air his political views, after all, he’s very much been doing the latter for over fifty years. Unfortunately, some of his monologues this evening, though always interesting, were just too long, and more suited to a pub or small venue holding a hundred people or less, and not eighteen thousand plus. That said, it was worth the admission price alone, to hear the Pink Floyd classics in all their glory. This was the final night of the tour, and as he turns eighty years old later in the year, could this really be the final time we get to witness this legend on stage. If it is, thank you Roger Waters for your contribution to the arts, a true legend.

Set 1 Comfortably Numb / The Happiest Days Of Our Lives / Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2* / Another Brick In The Wall, Part 3 / The Powers That Be / The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range / The Bar /Have A Cigar / Wish You Were Here / Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX) / Sheep*

Set 2 In The Flesh / Run Like Hell / Déjà Vu Déjà Vu (Reprise) / Is This The Life We Really Want? / Money / Us And Them / Any Colour You Like / Brain Damage / Eclipse / Two Suns In The Sunset / The Bar (Reprise)


Review: Ant Heeks


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