Clip: DeRogatis on Roger Waters
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
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