Pink Floyd is not just one of the all time great British rock bands; it is a monumental popular cultural institution. The impact Pink Floyd has had on the arts as a whole cannot be understated; their music is timeless and stretches back to the late 60’s when they came out of the London underground music scene creating inventive psychedelic rock tunes with their genius front man Syd Barret and then progressing into an act that completely re-imagined and re-conceptualized rock music whilst challenging all that could be achieved with a live show production. The 70’s classic Pink Floyd catalogue is still selling to this day and after the band’s final show at Live Aid in 2005 singer songwriter and bassist Roger Waters has continued to perform those compositions backed by an epic multimedia production adapting the lyrics of the songs he wrote four decades ago to the political climate of the day. At the age of 74 Waters isn’t slowing down, he released a solo album last year titled ‘Is This The Life We Really Want?’ and still performs around the world in arenas to fans who can’t get enough of the Pink Floyd legacy. 2018 saw Waters and his band return to Australia for the Us + Them tour with multiple shows around the country including 2 nights at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena.
The Sydney dates were Waters’ first shows in Australia since The Wall tour in 2012 and a lot has happened in the world in these last 5 years; much of the visuals that were presented in the show reflected the troubled times that we are living in but there was a lot of colour and much of the original cartoon drawings that were created for the 70’s Pink Floyd films and album covers were reused to great effect enhancing the emotional reaction that the compositions evoked.
The show was split into 2 sets with the first half consisting of prog masterpieces such as “One of These Days”, “Time”, “The Great Gig in the Sky” and “Welcome to the Machine”. The huge screen behind the band took the audience into space voyages whilst they performed those unforgettable songs but Roger Waters is also acclaimed for his folk and blues influenced ballads and when it was time for “Wish You Were Here” the audience reached their fervent peak.
A couple of the songs from the new album were also added to the set list but it was predominately the classic songs from albums such as ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, ‘Wish You Were Here’, ‘Animals’ and ‘The Wall’ that dominated the performance. A Sydney ensemble of teen dancers joined the band on stage and provided the backing choir for the anthem “Another Brick in The Wall part 2”.
The 2nd set brought even more of a spectacle with a long double side screen coming on top of the audience to present more stunning visuals. The performance featured the songs “Dogs” and “Pigs” from an Orwellian 1977 concept album that imagines humanity divided into different animal groups. The visuals behind “Pigs” blatantly referenced Donald Trump’s most moronic and bigoted quotes. In the end the message was clear to everyone in the audience: Trump is a pig and Waters is going to write it in big letters for all to see and for those who missed it a giant pig flew around the arena with trumps face on it.
Waters has always been fascinated by human greed and no song better exemplifies this than “Money”, with its instantly recognizable bass riff it certainly went down well in front of the Sydney crowd. With such a huge production the final light show on display was the iconic pyramid breaking the light beam into a prism of colours shining through it. However there’s only one song to close a Roger Waters show and that was the epic composition “Comfortably Numb” with arguably one of rock music’s greatest guitar solos. It’s no easy feat emulating David Gilmour’s guitar prowess but Dave Kilminster did a fine job and brought the show to a grandiose closure.
Roger Waters’ legacy is far too significant to extrapolate in just one review but it is evident that his life long dedication to writing songs forever cast on people’s imaginations and his need to be critical of world leaders and of man’s lust for greed and power is why Waters has remained relevant and has had such an extraordinary and long career. It’s likely this will be his last tour to Australia but for young and old fans last night’s show was unmatched for its quadraphonic surround sound and out of this world sensory visual production.