Music review: Roger Waters, Hydro, Glasgow

For his This is Not a Drill tour, Roger Waters gives audiences a gloomy vision of a paranoid, nightmare dystopia which he appears to believe already exists, writes David Pollock

Roger Waters, Hydro, Glasgow ****

“If you're one of those ‘I love Pink Floyd but I can't stand Roger’s politics’ people, you might do well to f*** off to the bar right now,” ran the opening announcement. In the social media age, sometime Floyd member Roger Waters’ views on everything from the Israel/Palestine situation to the war in Ukraine are an open book.

They inspire, to put it mildly, much disagreement. Not least from writer Polly Samson, wife of former bandmate David Gilmour, whose tweeting about Waters earlier this year confirmed the chances of a Floyd reunion remain zero.

Roger Waters PIC: Theo Wargo/Getty ImagesRoger Waters PIC: Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Roger Waters PIC: Theo Wargo/Getty Images
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Waters’ current This is Not a Drill tour is a technically impressive, in-the-round production, with a bank of video screens looming over his crack ten-piece band. It’s also a gloomy vision of a paranoid, nightmare dystopia which Waters appears to believe already exists.

Onscreen, faceless individuals trudge amid ruined tower blocks during Comfortably Numb; animated riot cops crack protesters’ skulls during The Happiest Days of Our Lives; a drone-flown inflatable sheep careens around in the air during the Orwell-inspired Sheep; the nuclear warning Two Suns in the Sunset includes a striking, emotive film of atomic destruction.

Waters’ hallucinatory dictator character Pink’s appearance during In the Flesh and Run Like Hell fits the context of 1979’s The Wall album, its narrative associating mental breakdown with delusions of fascist grandeur. Yet it’s not hard to see why this caused controversy in Germany, where even satirical depictions of such rallies are officially viewed differently to in the UK.

Other, less politicised moments were very affecting. During Wish You Were Here, Waters’ typed onscreen inner monologue remembered his late bandmate Syd Barrett’s mental disintegration. Us and Them, from the Dark Side of the Moon sequence, was accompanied by a visual symphony of diverse faces, and Waters’ late brother John was remembered during a tender section of new song sequence The Bar. The latter lockdown composition is a tribute to social contact; here, Waters said, the Hydro was the bar and everyone was welcome to discuss what they please. Although it wasn’t clear whether that included everyone exiled to the bar at the start.

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