It was announced this past Monday that Roger Waters will headline London’s British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park on 6 July next year. And tickets are coming on sale today.
One of the former mainstays of the long-lived but much lamented Pink Floyd, Waters is the first headliner to be confirmed by the festival’s organizers. The 74-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer kicked off his most recent tour, Us + Them, earlier this year, and continues to showcase a set list that includes material from his solo portfolio as well as classics from the Floyd catalog.
These days the material leans more and more towards the latter. “Probably 75 percent of it will be old material and 25 percent will be new, but it will be all connected by a general theme,” Waters explained in an interview following the recent announcement.
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It can be argued that Waters’ terse, provocative posture was a prime reason why Floyd rose to prominence as one of the most influential rock bands of all time. If past performances are any indicator, Waters will deliver a robust set of familiar favorites worthy of his – and the band’s lingering legacy. That said, below are seven reasons why witnessing Waters live is all but essential:
Check here for tickets to the Hyde Park show. A pre-sale batch for Prime members is released from 9am today (4 October) and the Amazon pre-sale begins at 11am - also today. General on sale is Friday 9am.
1. Waters is known for his spectacular staging
In 1979, Pink Floyd released what many consider to be the group’s greatest achievement, the album The Wall. It was certainly the band’s most ambitious effort to date, and it was justifiably rewarded with platinum status 23 times over. The idea for the album sprung from Waters’ feelings of alienation and the chaos he witnessed all around him while growing up in the years following the second World War. It was that frustration which led him to create a concept album bearing the most biting commentary of his career. After the band’s bitter dissolution, Waters expounded on the album’s concept even further and used it as the basis of a super successful world concert tour. Critics described it as “one of the most ambitious and complex rock shows ever staged,” and “a huge technologically complex and metaphorically dense theatrical spectacle.” While The Wall has since been retired -- by Waters, if not Donald Trump -- he still makes use of props and imagery that elevates his efforts well above any other’s.
2. It’s an opportunity to hear Pink Floyd music played live, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.
While Pink Floyd may be no more, Waters has preserved the groups legacy through his own concert performances, ably rehashing such classics as “Comfortably Numb,” “Another Brick in the Wall” and “Wish You Were Here.” Consequently, this is as close as you can come to hearing the band’s classics performed by one of its founding fathers. Granted, David Gilmour has done the same on his own, but given Waters’ penchant for daring and defiance, he carries the music several step further with his brash attitude and a uniquely convincing credence. Given the fact that founding member Richard Wright is no longer with us, and the remaining members are unable to reconcile their differences, this is the nearest equivalent of seeing Pink Floyd in the flesh. Floyd fans definitely need to take heed.
3. Waters is a truly spellbinding performer.
When it comes to visual spectacle, an immersive experience and polished performances, Waters is hard to top. Throughout his career, Waters’ has used music to create a commentary on society as a whole, while working in concert with visual components that give life to his own particular worldview. The integration of imagery and insight was integral to Pink Floyd’s development, and it’s little surprise that in his own right, Waters has consistently engaged his audiences with dazzling displays of pyro technics and audio innovation that hint at greater political meanings. Like a veteran actor, Waters takes his stage persona seriously, and at a point, they merge into one. He’s edgy and intense, an agile artist who’s adept at steering the proceedings with both commitment and care. Other performers play a part, but in Waters’ case, he’s a charming charlatan both onstage and off.
4. You have to wonder if he'll say something so controversial it may even make the news the next day.
Waters is no stranger to controversy. In fact, he’s been known to let his temper – and his mouth -- get the best of him, going so far as to occasionally spit at his audience following a live performance. Waters found himself in hot water in 2013 when he called for a boycott of Israel, leading some to claim he was anti-Semitic. This year, Waters found himself in the center of political controversy when he trashed Donald Trump in an interview. "Do you know where the word nincompoop comes from?” Waters asked when he was queried about the President. "It's Latin - non compos mentis, meaning ‘not of sound mind.’ That describes him perfectly, so that's how I refer to him." Chances are, he won’t be receiving a White House invite any time soon.
5. Simply stated, he's got a great band
And that’s to be expected considering the fact that they’re required to reproduce some of the most iconic sounds ever produced. Saxophonist Ian Ritchie can claim credits as a composer, producer and arranger, and sat behind the boards for Waters’ Radio Kaos album, in addition to work with Laurie Anderson, Hugh Cornwell and Gary Numan. Keyboard player Jon Carin has backed Floyd’s other surviving members, David Gilmour and Nick Mason, an has performed with the Who, Seal, Elvis Costello, Richard Butler and Kate Bush. Guitarist Dave Kilminister is a longtime veteran of Waters’ touring band aside from his work with Keith Emerson and Steven Wilson. Guitarist Chester Kamen’s credits include sessions with Paul McCartney, David Gilmour, Bryan Ferry, Robbie Williams, Seal and Madonna. Drummer Joey Waronker has played with Beck and R.E.M. Jonathan Wilson, on guitar and keys, is a noted singer/songwriter in his own right. Guitarist Gus Seyffert has played with The Black Keys and Norah Jones, and has done production and engineering work for Beck and Michael Kiwanuka. Yes... that’s some super group!
6. As these guys get older, who knows if there will ever be an opportunity to see them again.
We don’t mean to be morbid, but the fact is that the last couple of years have seen an accelerated pace of rock ‘n’ roll casualties. And while many veteran rockers are still content to tour well into their 70s and even 80s. there comes a point where they say enough is enough and opt out of the road work and ease into at least partial retirement. At age 74, Waters may be approaching that point himself. Even if he’s not, the day is bound to come. Face it, it takes a certain amount of energy and vigor to do a show as intense as the one that Waters does. Who could blame the guy for deciding one day that retirement and spending time with the grandkids is a better option That’s why we suggest that you catch him while you can.
7.It’s a must-see, simply to discover if he can measures up to his legend.
There are certain artists who are considered iconic. Paul McCartney. The Rolling Stones, The Who. Van Morrison. Neil Young. U2. After that, the list starts to diminish. While Waters may alway try to top Pink Floyd, the fact is, he will always be intrinsically tied to them forever. And considering the fact that Floyd plays such a prominent role in the annals of British rock -- and music in general -- Waters reaps the benefit of that hallowed stature. What becomes a legend the most? Simple. The ongoing need for fans to crown them with their kudos and ensure that legendary legacy lives on and stays in their memories forever.