With the surviving members of Pink Floyd splintering into their own tribute acts – Nick Mason is revisiting the band’s early years with his Saucerful Of Secrets project while David Gilmour basks in the success of his return to Pompeii – it falls upon Roger Waters to bypass the jukebox musical to create a feel-bad spectacular of his own that plays like an audio-visual opera. Turning his back catalogue into a vehicle of protest and resistance, tonight Waters bludgeons rather than persuades.
And while the presentation is visually and aurally ravishing – the screen that takes up the entire width of the stage is incredible, as is the quad sound – the show is akin to playing a Floyd album with Newsnight on in the background while an angry man kicks off in the corner. Consequently, the music becomes a secondary concern.
It never feels as if Waters actually empathises with the great unwashed who are told that they’re led by ‘Pigs (Three Different Ones)’, who are enforced by ‘Dogs’. As evidenced by the never-ending visuals that emanate from the screen, this is hectoring and patronising stuff that all too often concentrates on the very worst aspect of humanity instead of what actually can be achieved. Or how any form of unity can be attained beyond the vague notion of “resistance” that’s flashed up on the screen.
The second half of the show is particularly condescending thanks to Waters’ slender grasp on geo-politics that suggests that the USA and Israel are the only troublemakers on the planet. And despite technically fine readings of ‘Money’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’, the show ultimately feels like Alex’s aversion therapy in A Clockwork Orange; if you want to see a music writer throw himself out of window, then be sure to play Animals when this scribe is around.
Unlike his descendants Super Furry Animals or The Flaming Lips, Waters offers absolutely no hope at all. And what was it that Orwell said about hope in 1984? It certainly doesn’t lie with a multi-millionaire fuming in a park in London.