[Live Review] ROGER WATERS (Sydney)

Qudo Bank Arena, Sydney
Friday February 2, 2018 :

In 10 years time when someone insults me under the guise of being a fan, “You’re pretty old, have you ever seen Pink Floyd in concert?”, I’ll punch him in the face. No I wouldn’t, I’d quietly smile in acceptance that yes, I am old, and yes, I have seen Pink Floyd live, twice, in the late ’80s.

My memories of that show – big circular video screen, an aeroplane that flew from the back of the arena crashing into the side of the stage, a flying pig during ‘One Of These Days’, and seeing David Gilmour live. I missed Roger Waters.

My memories of the Roger Water’s Us & Them tour – photographing from the pit, a 50 metre video screen that stretched from the stage to the back of the arena, a drone flying pig, Trump getting slammed, and seeing Roger Waters live. I missed Dave Gilmour.

It’s been six years since Roger Waters was here in Australia for his The Wall Live tour, and what you received from that show was essentially The Wall played in its entirety. There were no extras, no ‘Money ‘ or ‘Time’, no ‘Wish You Were Here’ or ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, so it has been over a decade since Australia has heard much of the Pink Floyd catalog live.

Beginning the night proper with ‘Breathe’, our first cut from The Dark Side of the Moon, we were being eased into the caustic ‘One Of These Days’ which followed. In fact, all but a couple of tracks from The Dark Side of the Moon appear tonight. Highlights for myself were hearing ‘Welcome To The Machine’ and tracks from the Animals album (‘Dogs’ and ‘Pigs (Three Different Ones)’) live.

The closing of both sets were given to the strength of cuts from The Wall. The first set concluded with a merging of ‘Another Brick In The Wall Part 2’ and ‘Part 3’, and a chorus of red boiler suit wearing children chanting “We Don’t Need No Education, We Don’t Need No Thought Control”. To end the night proper we receive one of the best guitar solos ever to be laid down, ‘Comfortably Numb’.

Water’s solo work was limited to tracks from his most recent release, Is This The Life We Really Want? appeared midway through both sets. ‘Picture That’ and ‘Smell The Roses’ are both solid songs and definitely carry Floyd-ian elements.

Visually and production wise, Pink Floyd have been regarded as being at the forefront of what is possible in the live setting, and Roger Waters has carried that dedication into the future. What I saw tonight, I have never witnessed prior.

At the start of the second set, red lights began flashing on the roof of the arena, and an alarm began. A 50 metre scaffolding descended from the roof as video screens appeared, stretching from the stage to the back of the area. On these 50 metre screens appeared the Battersea Power Station, the iconic Animals cover art, adorned with four smoking chimneys. And the band began ‘Dogs’. Midsong, most of the band put down their instruments to join a side of stage champagne party adorning animal masks. There’s some crazy shit happening within these walls.

Video screens then turned on Trump. ‘Pigs’ could have been written about this bloke if it had not been penned 30 years ago. “Big man, pig man, Ha, ha, charade you are, You well heeled big wheel, Ha, ha, charade you are,” them there are fighting words. The visuals displayed were as biting and scathing as they could be…. lol, and let’s send out a drone flying pig through the arena just for good measure.

Late in the evening, things returned to The Dark Side Of The Moon, with a blue laser and smoke pyramid appearing above the floor seats while ‘Eclipse’ weaved around them. What appeared tonight was a visually stunning and immersive experience.

This show will come up in conversation between friends and new acquaintances, when the subject turns to music and gigs. So in 10 years time when someone asks me if I have seen Pink Floyd in concert, I can say that I have, and I’ve seen Roger Waters live also, and his show was amazing.

Photographer + Reviewer : Kevin Bull

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One Reply to “[Live Review] ROGER WATERS (Sydney)”

  1. Wow – Perhaps I was at a different show, or perhaps I was more focused on the attempts of this show to mimic Pink Floyd classics, then on the (admittedly) awesome visual effects and production.

    First – the audio was beyond terrible. Some of this could have been the venue, or the fact this was the first night at the venue and there was not enough time for a proper soundcheck. It was muddy, with poor stereo separation, and with noticeable clipping. In short – a mess. The mix was so bad at times, I wondered if the back-of-house engineer was as stoned/geriatric as Roger appeared. Maybe he just needs his hearing aids adjusted. (the average age of the concert goers was about 55, so certainly he’s not alone)

    Roger’s band – for sure no Pink Floyd – did not even appear to have listened to some of the songs they performed, nevertheless practiced them. “Breathe” was terrible, with the backing guitarist missing chords and generally a hot mess. Whoever he was – it sounded like he was from a garage band.

    The next disaster (of many) was “Great gig in the sky”. It’s a bad sign when a duo of mediocre (I’m being generous here) singers attempt a piece that was originally done by a single brilliant vocalist, but the two ladies Roger had on stage made it sound like cats having sex. They were painfully awful. I was ready to be disappointed here, but somehow these two managed to surpass even my low expectations.

    Somehow we then ended up with “Wish you were here” with Rodger off-key, and just looking old, flabby, and – well – tired as he phoned it in from center stage. I almost wanted to leave at this point, but was it was like watching a train wreck – I just could not turn away it was so sad and pathetic.

    Thankfully – the first act was finally brought to a close – not soon enough – with the “brick in the wall 2/3”. This would have been decent if the local kids they recruited could have had a few practice sessions prior to the show (professional dancers were in the front row to coach the kids on the right dance moves since the kids had no time to practice)

    Roger even had the stones to say “…hey – great job kids – I only met them at 5:30 – didn’t they do a great job?” (applause) And honestly – they did – for children that had two hours of rehearsal. How about actually doing a few more rehearsals? (or any?) Did someone just run around the streets of Sydney with a bag of candy and grab these poor kids up for the show?

    I won’t waste time on the second act – the author covered it very well – it was a production tour de force – if only you could ignore the terrible sounds coming from the stage. For sure – some illicit drugs would have made this enjoyable – but I was sadly sober. Great visuals if you could ignore the audio butchery from the stage.

    Please, please don’t waste your money, or your time, or (like myself) great memories of former shows by going to this pathetic effort. Roger is well, well, over the hill, a sad, flabby old man whose politics and anger at the world have eclipsed (intentional pun) his good sense to retire to the old folks home. Stay home, pop in the “Pulse” DVD and experience a great Pink Floyd show.

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