Live Music + Gig Reviews

Roger Waters @ Wembley Arena, London

27 June 2002

For a man who is knowingly hostile towards performing at football stadiums, Roger Waters appears comfortable at this impressively shabby venue. An undoubtedly influential figurehead of the rock world and co-founder of one of the world’s best-loved and ambitious bands (Pink Floyd, of course!), Waters seems these days to have mellowed. But tonight’s performance still reflects some of the anger at world injustice and the anti-capitalist stance that he’s renouned for.

The huge stage, made up of different levels, and typically huge Floyd backdrops showing footage of our own romantic and ominously beautiful Battersea Power Station complete with flying pigs, old clips of Syd and the boys in 70s flared trousers and The Wall’s marching hammers make for trembling excitement for hardcore Waters fans. The 62nd and final gig of this world tour features Waters on form, appearing youthful for a man of his years.

Nick Mason, Snowy White and P P Arnold are bonus creative components to a hugely entertaining line up of keyboards, saxophone and a variety of guitars, all led with screechingly familiar and gut wrenching solos by Waters himself. White’s stamina and experienced riffs together with a hand picked mix of compatible talent presents us with a unique picture of mutual respect, mature talent and natural unity born out of experience.

The last few years have seen true fans practically starved of this man’s live presence and this tour has seen him thoroughly prepared to make up for this with over two and a half hours of blissful intensity. Though his appearances are few and far between he delivers “the greatest show on earth”.

A timeless mix of over twenty songs taken from Dark Side Of The Moon and The Final Cut, to later pearls from The Pros And Cons Of Hitchiking and Amused To Death are performed impeccably and are carried off with Waters’ familiarly acrobatic pitch, topped off with an immaculate helping of strong female vocal. Lyrically this man is and always has been a genius, mixing irony, humour and political standpoints and using his musical platform to enlighten and entertain a generation. Tonight, Perfect Sense (Parts I and II) re-enforces that in positivly anthemic terms, making the rules of remaining seated at Wembley feel like torture.

In true British style, audience participation is reserved and low key, hardly worthy of such a performance. A few air punches and whistles can be seen and heard to reinforce the appreciation, particularly during Comfortably Numb.

The audio dynamics of the arena are crystal clear and heighten the senses. The familiar Waters’ extras of dogs barking, helicopters and the like, make for spine-tingling moments of clarity and recognition.

Roger Waters seems to have matured in many ways over the years. Lyrically he has softened, while his performances are happier and more open. Anger and cynicism seem to have been replaced by love for what he does and a genuine respect for his audience.

Let’s hope that the words of the maestro are true – “miraculous you call it babe, you aint seen nothing yet”.

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Roger Waters @ Wembley Arena, London