Roger Waters – ex-Pink Floyd legend, heavy conceptualist and curmudgeonly lefty –brings his ‘Us and Them’ Tour to Australia this month. STACK digs deep in the Waters catalogue to find the gems, and offer a gateway into the work of this English icon.
WHO IS ROGER WATERS?
After founder Syd Barrett left Pink Floyd in 1968, bassist/singer Rogers Waters took the reins, becoming the band’s lyricist and composer of much of the music. Waters shaped their grand conceptual landmarks The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), and later opus of alienation, The Wall (1979). He declared Floyd a ‘spent force’ in the early ’80s, but to his chagrin, the remaining members carried on without him, causing legal and personal rancour that took decades to subside.
Waters’ solo work, inevitably, is viewed in the shadow of his old band, and comprises only four original solo works (discounting film soundtracks, and the opera Ça Ira). He’s continued to examine what it means to be human, writing very personally – and all the while warning us that we are metaphorical frogs, boiling in the pot.
THE SOLO MUSIC
His solo debut proper, 1984’s The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking – a rather melancholy concept piece – takes place in the internal dreamscape of a middle-aged man driving through California, over one night, in real time, augmented by some superb guitar work from Eric Clapton. (Various tracks available on Flickering Flame: The Solo Years – CD only)
1987’s Radio K.A.O.S. was an ill-founded attempt at electro-pop modernity, telling the story of a disabled Welsh miner living in LA who – through his relationship with a local radio DJ and his ability to hear radio waves – fools the world into thinking a nuclear holocaust is imminent. Ah… the ’80s. (Available on: CD only, plus various tracks featured on Flickering Flame: The Solo Years)
1992’s Amused To Death saw Waters at his best: attacking monetarism, the Military-Industrial Complex, and the human capacity to be distracted by celebrity, entertainment and other follies as the world goes to hell around us. (Available: CD, Blu-ray, double vinyl, CD) 2017’s Is This the Life We Really Want? – his first genuine solo album in over 20 years, which saw him railing against the media environment that gave us Donald Trump – is perhaps his best, despite it sonically referencing classic Floyd more readily than past solo efforts. (Available on: CD, double vinyl)
After the post-Waters Floyd stopped recording and touring (while never officially splitting), Waters seized his chance, and reclaimed the legacy with a series of stunningly high-end tours that re-presented Floyd’s key works using video, audio and staging technology barely dreamt of when the tracks were first recorded. While Roger Waters: The Wall represents this best (see right), the live set In the Flesh is also worthy of investigation, as it presents Waters’ interpretations of his past music and his solo works side by side, with a cracking band. Recommended as a primer for coming gigs.
BRICKS IN THE WATERS: ROGER’S WALL
The Wall, although the last album performed by the classic Floyd line-up, was Waters’ own deeply personal vision. It details the story of a rock star who builds a metaphorical wall around himself, his ultimate delusion being that he has become a fascist dictator and must be tried for his crimes. Having first staged the production in 1990 with an international cast of guests to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall, Waters has lately toured his own 21st century re-boot – an overwhelming and technologically stunning re-invention, stylishly brought to the screen in a documentary/concert piece called Roger Waters: The Wall, available as a CD/Blu-ray twin pack.
QUDOS BANK ARENA, SYDNEY
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 2
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 3
BRISBANE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 6
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 7
ROD LAVER ARENA, MELBOURNE
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 10
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 11
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 13 – NEW DATE
ADELAIDE ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 16
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 20