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12125Clip: DeRogatis on Roger Waters

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  • Carl Z.
    Oct 1, 2006
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      Waters packs emotional anti-war wallop
      Pink Floyd singer sums up a strain of his life's work

      October 1, 2006
      BY JIM DeROGATIS Pop Music Critic
      Given his legacy as the key songwriter and conceptualist for Pink
      Floyd, one of the most theatrical bands in rock history, fans could
      expect that Roger Waters' show at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
      on Friday would be a visual tour de force.

      Considering his infamous perfectionism, it was a given, too, that the
      sound and musicianship would be top-notch, especially since half of
      the set would be devoted to the 1973 audiophile masterpiece, "The Dark
      Side of the Moon."

      What came as a surprise was that Waters' three-hour performance in
      Tinley Park packed such an emotional wallop in the form of a very
      poignant running commentary about the tragedy of war in general and of
      America's involvement in Iraq in particular.

      Unifies 5-decade career
      Reviews of earlier gigs on the tour found some critics scoffing at the
      politics, as if strong anti-war sentiments hadn't always been a key
      theme in Waters' work, from "Corporal Clegg" in 1968 through his final
      album with Pink Floyd, "The Final Cut," a 1983 meditation on the

      But even for hard-core fans who've followed Waters' philosophical
      evolution, the extent to which his set list drew together songs from
      throughout a five-decade career to make a unified thematic point
      seemed extraordinary.

      The first part of the evening gave us "Fletcher Memorial Funeral
      Home," "Perfect Sense," the new song "Leaving Beirut" and "Sheep," a
      comment on a slumbering electorate illustrated with a version of Pink
      Floyd's inflatable pig decorated with the slogans "Impeach Bush now"
      and "Don't get led to the slaughter, vote Nov. 7." The second set,
      which included all of "Dark Side," had the anti-war anthem "Us and
      Them," with photos of President Bush at the now-infamous "Mission
      Accomplished" photo-op, and video of oil rigs pumping in time to
      "Money." And finally, there was the overwhelming one-two punch of
      "Vera" and "Bring the Boys Back Home" during a generous encore.

      Basks in fan adoration
      Though Waters certainly made his message clear, the cumulative effect
      was less like preaching and more like a summation of one strain of his
      life's work, which has sadly become more timely than ever. And the
      show made the welcome point that, despite the popular perception, Pink
      Floyd has never just been the perfect band to fire up the bong to --
      there has always been much more substance when the band was at its

      In contrast to the dour front presented on some tours, the amazingly
      well-preserved, 63-year-old Waters gleefully basked in the adoration
      of his fans, who cheered his political messages as enthusiastically as
      his blasts of classic-rock nostalgia.

      Always the third-best singer in Pink Floyd, the bandleader did his
      best with the vocals he recorded on albums, leaving the rest to a
      crack 11-piece band that included his son Harry on Hammond organ and
      MVP Dave Kilminster in the role of guitarist David Gilmour.

      In fact, the only way this extraordinary evening could have been
      better was if Waters finally buried the hatchet with Gilmour and his
      other former Floyd bandmates. As at Gilmour's show at the Rosemont
      Theatre last April, the night came close, but it still wasn't quite
      Pink Floyd, and you still couldn't help thinking that, as Waters sang
      in "In the Flesh" at the start of the show, "Pink isn't well, he
      stayed back at the hotel / And they sent us along as a surrogate