Concert Review: Roger Waters BST Hyde Park
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Greg Wetherall gives a five star review
Roger Waters – BST Hyde Park
Erstwhile Pink Floyd writer, bassist and co-vocalist Roger Waters kicked off this year’s British Summer Time series of gigs with a dialectic that very much focused on the notion of ‘us and them’. Not just the song from his former band’s seminal The Dark Side of the Moon album – which incidentally stood as a highlight of the whole show - but also of the economic and social chasms within society. Whether or not one could swallow such sermonising from a millionaire rock star of a certain vintage would be a point for the observer.
For those who could cast aside such objections, however, there were an abundance of joys to imbibe, in what proved to be a performance par excellence. Seemingly vigorously opposed to the concept of being wheeled out as a heritage act, the Surrey-born prog rocker took the opportunity to air tracks from his fine 2017 LP Is This the Life We Really Want?, and presented evidence of an artist firing on all cylinders.
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Flanked by an 8-piece band bedecked in all black, his group mellifluously and ably replicated, note-for-note, the imperious compositions of Pink Floyd in all of their conceptual and stylistic guises. Splitting the evening into two sets, and opening with ‘Breathe’, the languid bass line and guitar licks washed over the sprawling Hyde Park crowd and eased them gently into Waters’ orbit.
From there, a momentary delve into 1971’s Meddle in the form of the propulsive ‘One of These Days’ preceded a further first-half flurry from the towering triumvirate The Wall, DSOTM and Wish You Were Here. With children recruited from the Grenfell community for the mega-hit ‘Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)’, there was not only a political stance evidenced in the form of their presentation (boiler suits and balaclavas giving way to t-shirts emblazoned with ‘Resist’ across their front), but a sensitivity to domestic affairs too.
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He remains an outspoken polemicist and certainly would not allow himself to forego the opportunity to extol his views on such a large platform. During a take on Animal’s ‘Pigs (Three Different Ones)’, a backdrop of Pop art-style mock-ups of Trump in all manner of degrading positions and a roll call of his ignominious quotes filled the screens. No one could be left in any doubt as to where he stands on the leader of the free world.
It was also clear that Waters’ voice remains in startlingly fine fettle and whilst his svelte posturing may not be cut from the same age-defying Duracell-esque cloth as Mick Jagger, , there is yet to be any sign of laurel resting for this 74-year old. This was an electric headline show that reminded those present of the elegant and, lyrically, at least, often melancholic nature of his output over the years.
As a sublime ‘Comfortably Numb’ brought a thoroughly rousing show to a halt, a few scattered souls in the crowd were visibly in tears. What was striking was that he still does all of this revered material exceptional justice. Stunning.