Is country music hip

Roger Waters at Wembley Arena

The Proclaimers at Eden Court

Dylan At the London Arena



Roger Waters - Wembley Arena

Roger Waters' return to the live stage was always going to be an event. And almost twenty years after leaving Pink Floyd, only to watch them go on to enjoy immense worldwide success whilst playing his songs, he appears to have mellowed in his approach to his former band.
Starting with an impressive 'In The Flesh', the show kicked off with a run through some of the classic moments from 'The Wall', which many consider to beginning of the end of the classic Floyd line-up in the late 1970's, as Waters took more and more of an artistic stranglehold over their material. Spotlights scan the crowd as the sound of a helicopter rolls around Wembley arena, heralding the start to 'The Happiest Days Of Our Lives' which segues into 'Another Brick In The Wall'. Snowy White makes a complete mess of David Gilmour's classic solo and it's at this point that you realise that you're not watching Pink Floyd after all, merely a member of Pink Floyd with some of his mates running through his old songs. Things start to get worse with a perfunctory run through of 'Mother' and then we get into a selection of tracks from 'The Final Cut', by far the weakest album in the Floyd canon.

However, Waters is nothing if not a seasoned professional and while his ego may tempt him to play the Floyd songs that mean the most to him, he knows what the crowd really want. So we get 'Dogs', in it's entirety. All fifteen plus minutes of it - complete with the synth-driven mid-section, during which Roger and the other guitarists sit down at a table on stage and play cards until it's time for them to pick up their instruments to finish the song. Guitarist Chester Kamen fills in admirably for David Gilmour both vocally and with some truly awesome guitar work at the song's climax. With the crowd nicely at boiling point, Waters plays his ace in the hole and introduces his old band-mate, Nick Mason, to play drums on 'Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun'. Wembley, predictably, goes absolutely bonkers - after all the bad blood that has passed between Waters and Pink Floyd, since his departure in the 1980's, the likelihood of ever seeing them on stage together again seemed very remote. However, after the initial fan frenzy, the 'reunion' passes of in a rather low-key fashion, although the rear projection pictures of the early Floyd lineup lead the show nicely into 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond', with a huge image of founder member, Syd Barret staring out across the arena. We get pretty much all of the 'Wish You Were Here' album (with the exception of 'Have A Cigar') before the end of the first half of the show.

I should take the opportunity here, at the risk of upsetting any hardcore Roger Waters fans, to point out that, to me, Pink Floyd was always more about David Gilmour's guitar work than Roger Waters song-smithery. Maybe it was my age that counted against me, because I never really got into Floyd until well after Waters had left, have never seen Pink Floyd with Roger Waters and always considered him to be something of a pretentious old sod, always whining about how he never gets the respect he deserves.

The reason I mention this here is that the second half of the show, although starting with three tracks from 'Dark Side Of The Moon', did lean more towards Waters' solo career. Although beginning brightly enough with 'Every Stranger's Eyes' and 'Perfect Sense', the set soon slides into a mind-numbing thirty minutes of self-indulgence as we are 'treated' to a number of selections from Waters' last solo album, 'Amused To Death'. Try as I might, I just couldn't find a tune to go with his (admittedly wonderful) lyrics on the title track and 'It's a Miracle' but it seems that I was very much in the minority. Almost every fan in Wembley sang every word with Waters and even gave some of these tracks a better reception than some of the Floyd songs earlier in the evening.

The second half ended back where it began, with 'Brain Damage' and 'Eclipse' from 'Dark Side..' before the opening salvoes of 'Comfortably Numb' began the encore. More than ever Glimour's liquid guitar solos were sorely missed and even though Chester Kamen tried his absolute best to live up to Big Dave, Snowy White again appeared to be trying his best to drench the song in mediocrity. I know many people are fan's of White's guitar playing and he has been a Floyd/Waters staple for many a year now, but his playing tonight was dreadfully sloppy and amateurish.

And then we get the finest example of Roger Waters' ego to date. Ending a three hour 'Greatest Hits' show with a brand new composition, which nobody in the arena had ever heard before. 'Flickering Flame' sounded clunky and awkward and, unsurprisingly, the majority of the crowd had filtered out long before the house lights came up.

As I mentioned before, tunes have seemed to elude Waters over the last fifteen years and, for all his griping that Pink Floyd aren't Pink Floyd without him, maybe there's an argument that says Roger Waters isn't himself without Pink Floyd.

Sean G


In The Flesh
The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2
Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert
Southampton Dock
Pigs On The Wing, Part 1
Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-5
Welcome To The Machine
Wish You Were Here
Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 6-9

Breathe (In The Air)
The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking, Part 11
(5:06 AM - Every Stranger's Eyes)
Perfect Sense (Parts I and II)
The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range
It's A Miracle
Amused To Death
Brain Damage

Comfortably Numb
Flickering Flame

Picture from