Roger Waters – Us and Them at SSE Hydro, Glasgow, 30/06/2018

❉ Roger Waters breathes new life into the misunderstood ‘Animals’ on the opening night of his UK tour.

“Waters knows himself he isn’t the greatest singer in the world, and age hasn’t changed that. He punches through Wish You Were Here and Welcome To The Machine where David Gilmour would effortlessly glide through them. But that isn’t really the point. Waters is an artist of lyrical talent, and one of the eighties’ more inspiring protest writers.”

“You can either be our brother or be big brother”. So reads the stage projection as an interval’s passage is spent flicking from slide to slide, ones that list Nigel Farage as a neo-fascist, Mark Zuckerberg a misogynist, Israel a violent state and speak of environmental ramifications of a world consumed by product. It’s oddly austere, but an appropriate part of Roger Waters’ oeuvre and testament that even a twenty-minute break gets his audience talking.

And the band return, firing into an anarchic version of Dogs, driven by Joey Waronker’s heavy drums and costumed with an array of pig masks and other paraphernalia. Waters ends the song with a banner that reads “Fuck The Pigs”, presumably meant for the brokers and politicians of the world, before the one man who’s notorious for both, Donald Trump, is mocked through a series of unflattering and hilarious pictures as the band underneath the assorted imagery kick into Pigs (Three Different Ones). It’s the high point of the night, as Waters breathes new life into the misunderstood Animals, contextualising nostalgia in the political present. Many of the US President’s more ludicrous statements are televised and jeered. But just as some audience members fear the night is becoming too ponderous, the familiar intro to Money invites them to dance like its nineteen seventy-three again!

Waters knows himself he isn’t the greatest singer in the world, and age hasn’t changed that. He punches through Wish You Were Here and Welcome To The Machine where David Gilmour would effortlessly glide through them. But that isn’t really the point. Waters is an artist of lyrical talent, steering Pink Floyd through their philosophical milieu and becoming one of the eighties’ more inspiring protest writers. Much like John Lennon, he prides passion and delivery over technical skill and any vocal limitations he has are compensated by guitarist Jonathan Wilson (who sings the sombre Us and Them beautifully) and Lucius vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig (their rendition of The Great Gig In The Sky is as affecting live as Clare Torry’s is on record).

Predictably, Dark Side of The Moon numbers Breathe, Time and Eclipse generate audience applause, but it’s to Waters’ credit that so too do new tracks The Last Refugee and Picture That, the former a lyrical painting fragmenting lost children, the latter a new towering accusation at the idiocy of political life.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Waters is clearly having a ball onstage (a nice change from his famously dour persona), thrusting his sprightly body into the Happiest Days of Our Lives bass solo, smiling as he shares a stage with Glaswegian schoolchildren for Another Brick In The Wall Parts 2 and 3. Ending the show with the sage words to remember the universal declaration of human rights, Waters turns to sing Comfortably Numb, choosing the incredible guitar coda to welcome the many fans that he’s spent the night singing to. It is vintage Waters; he’ll test you, then he’ll play you the classics!

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