Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Roger Waters @ Accor Arena, Paris - May 3rd, 2023

Right before the show started, even before the lights dimmed, as people were still finding their seats, a recorded announcement was played over the arena's P.A.: "If you are one of those "I love Pink Floyd but I hate Roger's politics" people, you might as well fuck off to the bar right now". No one could say they weren't warned.

You can always find issues with an artist's opinion on any subject. No one is ever 100 percent aligned with anyone. Hell, it's sometimes hard to agree with even oneself! But Waters has made himself pretty indefensible with some recent positions, especially on the subject of the current war in Ukraine. Did it come from a good place? Probably. But then Waters was always a hard fellow to like, whether it was his attitude towards his audience in the late seventies/early eighties or the feud with his ex-bandmates in Pink Floyd and specifically David Gilmour. They often say that you have to separate the artist from the man, or the art from the artist, or whatever the saying is. But how do you do that when the man, the artist and the art are so inextricably intertwined?

Now nearing eighty, Roger Waters hasn't sweetened with age. In fact, the bile and the anger are still the primary fuel of creativity, and on that front the man can't be faulted. His songwriting is as sharp as ever, as evidenced by The Bar, a recent song written specifically for this tour, and his concert productions are nothing short of breathtaking.

Disappointingly, the show started out on a somewhat sour note, as Roger Waters opened with his new, more atmospheric version of Comfortably Numb, which was quite controversial amongst fans because it omitted the legendary guitar solos composed by David Gilmour, which never fails to trigger goosebumps. Not hearing those magical notes is a major letdown.

Thankfully, it was all uphill from then on, as Waters and his ace band (including longtime guitarist Dave Kilminster) went through the man's entire career over the course of two and a half hours. The highlights were renditions of such Pink Floyd classics as Have A Cigar, Money, In The Flesh, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Sheep, and a deep cut from The Final Cut, Two Suns In The Sunset.

Visually, it was absolutely spectacular. The stage was set up in the middle of the arena in a circus-like configuration, with large high definition screens hanging above the stage projecting movies, animations, graphics and slogans, augmenting the narratives in the songs and tying them all together, and the occasional inflatable livestock flying around the arena.

On earlier tour, Waters has been accused of miming to a pre-recorded track and while the jury's still out on that, it's obviously not the case on this run. In fact, the maturity of his voice is a big part of what makes the show so emotional. You can hear the intent in every inflection, every nuance, every crack. Nowhere is it more evident than on the closing number, a stripped down, moving version of Outside The Wall. If this is really Waters' last tour (some promo blurbs cheekily referred to this jaunt as his first farewell tour) then it's a perfect capper for the unique career of one of music's most prominent mavericks.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to comment on this post: