Roger Waters: Society, Politics and Pink Floyd

A quarter of an hour before the start of the concert, we saw the first message appear on the disproportionately large screens: minutes “,”text”:”Le concert commencera dans 15minutes “}}”>The concert starts in 15 minutes . Then 10… then five… And when the lights went out at 8:30, we saw and heard two more messages. One concerns mobile phones and the other reads as follows:

Pink Floyd, mais je n’ai rien à foutre des positions politiques de Roger Waters\”, vous pouvez aller vous faire voir au bar.”,”text”:”Pour ceux parmi vous qui sont des \”J’aime Pink Floyd, mais je n’ai rien à foutre des positions politiques de Roger Waters\”, vous pouvez aller vous faire voir au bar.”}}”>For those of you who are likes Pink Floydbut I don’t give a shit about Roger Waters’ political positions”, you can fuck yourself at the bar.

The message was clear. From the beginning a version of comfortably Numb the tone was darker than before: thunderbolts, deserted skyscrapers and images of people wandering around like zombies in a deserted city marked the classic from Pink Floyd.

This rather floating introduction gave way immediately to an acoustic and visual bombardment in the second and third parts Another Brick in the Wall.

The four screens that overlooked the central stage and covered the entire length and width of the surface of the rink at Bell Center were then illuminated nearly two stories high with words, themes or slogans in monochromatic letters (red, green, white). We didn’t know what to do with the ideological hype, the rock music to the power of 10 and the cones of light rising to the arena ceiling.

True to form, Roger Waters gave a performance full of political undertones.

Photo: evenko/Tim Snow

Waters denunciations

For years, Waters has spoken out against police brutality, social injustice, total capitalism and the international politics of various superpowers. Almost everyone took it for the cold during the hard hitting double hit made by The forces that will be and The bravery of being out of reach.

During the premiere, with the help of a visual animation reminiscent of that of the films sin city, footage was seen of some sort of riot squad beating up people while the names of people who were victims of police brutality were paraded in cities around the world, including Montreal and Toronto. According to Waters, the cause that led to the violence was listed each time. Mental health and the simple fact of being black – as with George Floyd – were mentioned most frequently.

in the The bravery of being out of reachwhich Waters performed on the piano, all American presidents from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump have been accused of being war criminals, albeit for different reasons.

Warm welcome Waters launched in French before interpreting a new song, The bar. He took the opportunity to speak about his vision of a world unit where all who believe in humanity, democracy and freedom of the press could settle regardless of race and religion.

You are neighbors, it’s goodhe said in French after performing the song, whose imagery highlighted the Sioux Lakota tribe of North Dakota.

Central stage, variable perception

The LED screens used by Waters were reminiscent of those used by U2 during the 2016 tour in Montreal, except they didn’t have an interior aisle. However, they could rise and settle over the nine musicians and choristers who occupied a central stage that stretched like so many cardinal points.

This scenography allowed Waters to set up in different locations during the concert, which lasted more than two hours. The disadvantage? Spectators in the stands halfway up could see everything, even with Waters’ back turned. On the other hand, those on the floor had to watch the screens when Waters was completely at the other end of the rink.

The old floyd

Roger Waters microphone in hand on a stage near a guitarist.

The production placed great emphasis on the political messages that Waters conveyed.

Photo: evenko/Tim Schnee

The first measures of Have a cigar immersed fans in the glorious past of Pink Floydespecially since the screens showed lots of pictures of the young members on a pink background.

However, it is the result of I wish you were here and Shine with your crazy diamond (Segments VI to IX), which led to one of the most moving moments of the evening. While the audience enjoyed the premiere, Waters’ narration of his meeting with Syd Barrett could be read on the screens. Touch. And in the second, a strong smell of drugs was felt in our department.

Waters and his colleagues completed the first part with a hyperactive version of sheep where we only saw the sheep on the screens. On the other hand, it’s during the break that the pig of Pink Floyd flew over the crowd at the Bell Centre. He had given other slogans like F… the poor at its sides.

The return was blown up as much as possible with the sequence of In the flesh – at the end of which Waters put on his frock coat and sunglasses and two soldiers shot the crowd with dummy weapons – and run like hell. Waters showed pictures of Vladimir Putin and asked: Are there any paranoiacs in the crowd tonight? It did boom.

But the Brit brought his social and political considerations to the fore as a leitmotif from which he did not want to deviate. While Déjà-vuDelivered to the guitar, the giant screens were put to use again.

human rights

Waters highlighted the courage of Chelsea Manning in leaking footage showing a US military blunder, he called for the release of Julian Assange, and he threw out those who use guns and the US Supreme Court (Loud Applause, here ).

Then, in step, with the word rights“,”text”:”rights”}}”>right (Rights) fixed on the screens, we saw a series of words aimed at defending these rights: those of Palestinians, Yemeni residents, indigenous peoples, trans people, reproduction, etc. So many desires expressed by greeted by the spectators. Is it the life we ​​really want? was in the same direction, while pictures of bundles of money, credit cards, etc.

Then I thought to myself that in an hour and a half of concert I had probably fixed my eyes on the screens for a good hour rather than on the musicians. As if the ideas conveyed by Waters caught my attention as much, if not more, than the undeniable quality of the music on offer. Before finally realizing that it was more the staging that created that effect.

If an artist presents the same images in the classic arrangement – screen behind the musicians with stage at the end of the rink – the eye sees both exactly as the other without changing the focus. But here, with the screens above the musicians, there’s no getting around it. You look at one or you look at the others.

lens, the arrival of money was a game-changer, as if one of Pink Floyd’s most universal — and radio-friendly — songs had just broken down all barriers. There was something magical about watching two young women who weren’t even 30 dancing the way they did as if the 1973 classic was a song of their generation that was released just last week.

This was the starting point for a truly intriguing sequence – essentially the B-side of The dark side of the moon which kidnapped the 20,000 spectators into a different world than ours for about twenty minutes. On the us and them, brain damage and other darknessOn-screen viewers were able to see another concern of Waters that is shared by many people: movement Black Lives Matterthe war in Ukraine, open dumps in some countries, etc. And in return for this darkness, hope with people from all walks of life, all races and all continents of remarkable beauty and talent.

During this sequence, half a dozen triangles illuminated the narrow stage, partially replicating the album cover. The dark side of the moon. There were some wild screams from the audience… Hundreds of faces gradually appeared on the screens to create a huge human mosaic that was being completed in the final notes.

The monster ovation that followed must have lasted three minutes. Waters, genuinely moved, took the time to thank the public before plunging us back into one of his fears, nuclear war, through the song Two suns in the sunset and another animated video where everyone dies in a nuclear explosion. Not JoJo.

On the other hand, the finale, which was a revival The bar partnered with Outside the Wall turned out to be organic and full of sweetness, as a counterbalance to the early evening, more inward, thanks. Waters ended the evening at the piano, with all his companions at his side, before taking a lap of honor and ending it all backstage…that is, on the viewer screens.

A final round for Waters at 78? We ignore it. But after seeing all of his tours over the past two decades, including the full ones The dark side of the moon (2006) and that of The wall (2010), very emotional in content, I said to myself as I left the Bell Center that perhaps I had never seen Roger Waters so prominent in a concert where three quarters of the works on offer were by Pink Floyd.

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