jakub | June 23, 2023

ROGER WATERS AN INCREDIBLE MUSICAL TALENT AND AN INCREDIBLE PERFORMANCE AT AO ARENA MANCHESTER 10TH JUNE 2023


 

 

WORDS AND IMAGES RHYS GROVER

 

As Manchester baked in the sun on what was one of the busiest days on the calendar for the city, Roger Waters wrapped up his US & UK tour at the AO Arena, bringing the incredible ‘This Is Not A Drill’ tour to a close, in what was likely to be the last time we see Waters performing on UK soil. In recent times, Roger hasn’t been without controversy and complaint, and this gig was no exception. A local MP had called for the show to be banned, due to certain parts of the show, however fans had rallied in support and there was a gathering outside the arena as doors open in support of Roger and protesting against the statement that the MP had made.

The doors to Manchester’s biggest venue swung open around 6.30, and people soon took their seats, greeted by a cross shaped stage planted bang in the centre of the arena, covered by digital screens which were in darkness til the last minutes. As Waters and his incredible band take to the stage, a series of messages are displayed on the screens, including a statement from Roger himself regarding the recent controversy surrounding his Berlin performance. The final statement before ‘Comfortably Numb’ tore through the speakers was the two rules for the show. Phones on silent, and if you can’t separate the artists from the music, then it was probably a good time to ‘Fuck Off to the bar’.

‘Comfortably Numb’ opened the night, but Waters wasn’t anywhere to be seen, the screens covered the stage, with each corner being taken by a member of the band, as the digital screens covered the main cross section of the stage, displaying various eye catching visuals, something which has become a key part of Waters’ live performances. The lack of the main man didn’t stop the crowd from embracing the moment, and the chorus was belted out from the surrounding seats, as myself and the two other photographers were cowering to the corner of the stage, waiting for Roger to show.

The lights fell, the screens lifted and Roger and a hefty entourage took their places on the stage. Waling around as ‘The Happiest Days of Our Lives’ merges into ‘Another Brick in The Wall Pt 2’. From the moment he appeared, you just knew this was going to be something special. The visuals danced around above him, displaying various cinematic pieces along with messages and phrases. ‘Free Julian Assange’ was a common reoccurrence throughout the night. We only got 90 seconds to photograph the Pink Floyd bassist and ideas man, before it was exit through the car park. Camera gear stowed away, it was time to head back into the arena.

 

 

Taking may seat, we were now on song 6, ‘The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range’, a track from Roger’s 1992 album ‘Amused To Death’. This was the beauty of this setlist, there were the big hits from his Floyd days, intertwined in the most perfect manner with a varied selection of solo hits.

‘The Bar’ followed, and Roger took his time whilst introducing this one to tell some tales, express his views and really get the crowd going, ready for the onslaught of incredible tracks that were to follow. After three Solo tracks, it was back to Floyd, as ‘Have A Cigar’, ‘Wish You Were Here’, ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX) and ‘Sheep’ closed out the first half of the performance. The phone torches lit up the arena for ‘Wish You Were Here’ as a story of the songs background and Roger’s days with Syd Barrett played on the enormous screens that hung above the stage. It’s not a Waters show without an inflatable animal of some sort, and the first of two to make an appearance was a drone controlled sheep which swirled its way around the arena before the band headed off for their interval.

Set 2 was where things really kicked up a gear. Banners were draped from the ceiling, a sheep emblazoned with ‘Fuck The Poor’ was flown around the stadium, Roger came onto the stage dressed in an outfit which resembled, and took the piss out of, an SS guard, as he fires a fake machine gun into the crowd during his performances of ‘In The Flesh’ and ‘Run Like Hell’. This is the part of the show that has raised questions and sparked the comments surrounding controversy. Those who don’t understand the message which Roger is portraying have taken offence, those who understand it have gotten fully behind it.

Again, the second half was equal parts solo career with that sprinkling of some immense Floyd tracks. ‘Money’, ‘Brain Damage’ and ‘Two Suns in the Sunset’ just a few of the songs to make an appearance in the second half of this fantastic show, which spanned nearly 3 hours including the interval of about 20 minutes or so. This was a show I knew I couldn’t miss, and having missed out last time Roger stopped off in Manchester, there was no chance I was missing it this time around, especially considering it had been labelled as his farewell tour. Whether it was or not, only time will tell, but whether Roger never performs again, or he announces a world tour tomorrow, he will always go down in history as one of the greatest live acts of all time, with an incredible musical talent.

 

 

SET LIST

1/ COMFORTABLY NUMB

2/ THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF OUR LIVES

3/ ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL, PART 2

4/ ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL PART 3

5/ THE POWERS THAT BE

6/ THE BRAVERY OF BEING OUT OF RANGE

7/ THE BAR

8/ HAVE A CIGAR

9/ WISH YOU WERE HERE

10/ SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND (PARTS V1-1X)

11/ SHEEP SET 2

12/ IN THE FLESH

13/ RUN LIKE HELL

14/ DEJA VU

15/ DEJA VU 9REPRISE)

16/ IS THIS THE LIFE WE REALLY WANT?

17/ MONEY

18/ US AND THEM

19/ ANY COLOUR YOU LIKE

20/ BRAIN DAMAGE

21/ ECLIPSE

22/ TWO SUNS IN THE SUNSET

23/ THE BAR

24/ OUTSIDE THE WALL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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