Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Roger Waters – Birmingham Arena

Roger Waters – Birmingham Arena
by Pete Clemons

For well over 40 years now Roger Waters, has, consistently been writing quite brilliant songs about inequality, mortality, religion and authoritarianism. His lyrics are in no way subtle. They pack a punch and leave you in no doubt. The message he wants to convey is totally in your face and come through loud and clear.

Even in these times, you can listen to an album where Roger has contributed with his lyrics and you can relate those lyrics to events in the world today. And given their relativeness, a lot of those songs that I guess Roger felt were still relevant today and connected to each other lyrically have been dusted down and given a fresh airing.

The music, split across two sets, was bookended by huge chunks of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. Sandwiched in between are songs from ‘Wish You Were Here, ‘The Wall’ along with a couple of the epics from ‘Animals’. An introduction of the band, that included, established members from previous outings along with those that helped Roger create his latest release. A finale of ‘Comfortably Numb’ and off the band went to huge applause from an audience who were being showered in thousands of tickets that displayed the word ‘Resist’. So I did and didn’t fight to grab one.

Roger had dragged out those lyrics, some written many years ago, breathed new life into them, and combined them with his more up to date messages that can be found on his most recent from his latest album where he questions: ‘Is This the Life We Really Want?’. And that’s exactly what Roger was attempting to do during his current world tour which recently called in on Birmingham.

I did think however, that a lot of these messages were being diluted by the overtness of what was happening off stage. Instead of this being a chance to admire and reinforce such wonderful music and thought provoking lyrics the gig kind of turned into a huge political rally.

A good deal of the audience appeared to be simply amused by it all. With photos or video’s being taken at every opportunity of every back drop image, every appearance of some radio controlled flying object and every on stage tea party. Combine all of that with huge whoops of delight at each and every lighting effect and the whole thing slowly became a little lost on me. Down the centre of the arena there were even some drop-down murals of Battersea Power Station which, in recent years, has been extensively refurbished and has now designated as a mixed use neighbourhood.

Roger was already preaching to the converted, that’s why we were there. I just felt though that the extensive use of theatricals were all a bit too much and unnecessary. But at least the music was still wonderful to hear live again with no expense sparred for the magnificent quadrophonic system used to deliver it.

Maybe the heat outside had gotten to me and I am certain that I am in a minority. But the chatter on the way out of the arena seemed to confirm my thoughts as it was all about the flying pig and suchlike and not so much the audio. Which was a shame really, as it had been a fantastic gig but, for me, kind of summed it all up.

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