zaterdag 23 juni 2018

Roger Waters Live. Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, Friday 22 June 2018

The man who had a wall built between himself (and his band) and his audience to show his disgust at stardom and perhaps the world at large, built another sort of wall yesterday in the Ziggo Dome and went on a private tour past the front of his audience shaking hands, saying hi, enjoying being adored. The difference between the two shows and nearly 40 years could not have been more striking.

Roger Waters' disgust with a lot going on in the world today hasn't abated with age. At one point in time he, the band backing him and the music were in danger of disappearing in an overkill of messages being displayed all around, while a pig (a pig drone?) flew through the hall. What Waters' thinks of Donald Trump was already clear listening to his latest album, 'Is This The Life We Really Want?' (read on here: I certainly have my opinions and somehow never seem able to just expect the next salvo and keep being surprised, shocked, amazed. Reading a few dozen of statements made by the president of the U.S. one after another, there's simply no denying of this man's true intentions and stupidity. He's after the whole world with a wrecking ball, with a vengeance. In search of admiration and personal glory. All better prepare, or "resist", as Roger Waters' message to us all was. If there ever was a musician who still thinks he can change the world, I saw him yesterday. 60s activism returned with a vengeance as well. There is a missionary streak in Roger Waters as well, as well as a hint at fascism in his theatrics and grand gestures. So I'm not always certain of what his messages convey.

His audience, as far as I could judge, mostly male, white and over 50, oddly enough the group where white, angry men, with populist streaks, score high, came for a trip down nostalgia lane. Musically it certainly got what it wanted. What Waters successfully executed, was to bring a lot of the songs into a current political context. The music of Pink Floyd, there wasn't a single song from one of his three previous solo records, is there for eternity and we saw one of the two masters at work while we still can.

Surrounded by a pool of fantastic musicians, e.g. the ladies of Lucius on background vocals, drummer Joey Waronker and "hippie" Jonathan Wilson, only recently mentioned on this blog as producer of Dawes, played the songs perfectly. As the core of the stage band also made 'Is This The Life We Really Want?', on stage it must feel more like a true band than a set of hired hands. This was a machine, executing the music 99,9% perfectly. Yes, there was a duff note a few times, showing this was live or at least mostly. I'm never 100% certain with Roger Waters having read in the past that a lot of the music came from tape. It's all of no consequence. It was perfect.

The show started with a film of a woman filmed from the back on something like Vlieland, a lot of wet beach at ebb tide, dunes, sea and clouds. She hardly moves staring onto nothingness. The film returns later with a child lost and a ragdoll on the beach lying in shallow water, like the little Syrian child a few years back. All of a sudden the clouds turn red, it's the end of the world as we know it it seems and the band kicks into 'Breathe', with Jonathan Wilson singing David Gilmour's parts. Waters even acknowledged Gilmour later in the show by mentioning his name while introducing Wilson. He's, finally, ready for a reunion in the next and/or the afterlife it seems. And about time. They created this fantastic body of work with the four of them, so animosity should abate somewhat over decades. Rick Wright was remembered without a mention, but by playing a fantastic version of his 'Us+Them', also the name of the tour, a song I'm appreciating more and more as I grow older.

'Breathe' changed into the raucous 'One Of These Days'. A clock announced the beautiful 'Time' and there I start to lose track, although I have to mention that the ladies Lucius are no female Afro-American gospel singer, the way they handled 'The Great Gig In The Sky' was very well done and even gave it a contemporary feel. 'Dark Side Of The Moon' was played nearly complete. 'Wish You Were Here' got two songs, 'Animals' also, 'The Wall' a few more.

'Another Brick In The Wall 2 and 3' ended the first part, leading to an intermezzo on the theme resist. I have to resist so many things that I almost decided to leave before the second part of the show. There's so much to resist and nearly all true. So where to start as a simple, single person? Well by reporting on what I saw yesterday and saying that it is hard not to agree with a lot of the messages. The gloves are off with some politicians in the EU as well and not with unelectable ones as Wilders and Le Pen. No, they have been run over by a whole new lot and they are in charge. I'm hearing things that my grandparents heard in the 30s and that's becoming scary. So, is it the end of the world as we know it? We need R.E.M. back it seems. Come out of retirement you guys, we need you. The messages, all in huge red lettering ended with the word "Pigs". So you're allowed three guesses what song started the second part of the show.

The long and drawn out 'Pigs' had a whole theatre show accompanying it, signboard messages, masks and all. A contraption as long as the venue descended over the length of the hall, slowly recreating Battersea Power Station. So there was a wall among us anyway. One that became overwhelming during 'Money'. There it started to outlast its welcome, no matter how impressive. Luckily it was slowly dismantled, bit by bit after 'Money' was nearly overkilled by messages and pictures. The music became detached from the videowall, while the band became inconsequential it seemed. It did not do the show any good, while in the long intermezzo of 'Pigs' it worked perfectly, Trump vomiting vileness and all. So even one of the best songs ever made can be humbled by an overkill of visual impressions I've found out.

And the new songs, how did they do? Well, about as to be expected, if you've read my review you know what I mean. I still think 'Is This The Life We Really Want?' is a fine album, with one person missing: David Gilmour (or Jonathan Wilson playing his parts), that would have made it the best Pink Floyd album since 'The Wall', now since 'The Final Cut'. Luckily we got no songs from that album.

'Sheep' was fantastic, as always. A steamroller of song. 'Wish You Were Here' soft and sweet. It all ended with 'Brain Damage' and 'Eclipse', again so impressive and so beautiful. Each and every note reverberating in the DNA I grew as a teenager, taking this music in like essential nourishment, which it was to my budding brain and intellect.

After having a Palestinian student biker for a good cause on stage, the encores, with a Roger Waters who visibly was getting tired and couldn't stop coughing, gave us 'Wake Up And Smell The Roses' and the biggest tip of the hat to David Gilmour possible 'Comfortably Numb'. Pink Floyd as a communal singing exercise, time changes everything. No there was no 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond', but then one can't have everything. Roger Waters gave it his best and at 74 that still is a tremendous lot. I'm so glad I went again this time around.

And the final surprise
(All photo's by) Wo.

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