Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters revisits his iconic Dark Side of the Moon, adding new layers and controversies in an intimate yet baffling performance. Here’s our Roger Waters at the London Palladium review.
On the heels of scathing reviews from his Sunday night gig, Roger Waters appeared visibly aware that he had some ground to make up. Clearly, he took notes — literally — as he cut down his storytelling segment to one tale and admitted things hadn’t gone as smoothly as he’d have liked.
This time, Waters came prepared, albeit still under the shadow of a cold. Remarkably, it didn’t affect the quality of his vocals or narration. Instead, he curbed the indulgence of previous performances by reducing his autobiographical rambles to just one. And it was a charming one at that: a tale of adopting a mallard in his West Country home, a story that felt touchingly well-delivered in its simplicity.
The music, when it finally came, was as engaging as one would expect from an artist of Waters’ calibre. The 12-piece band he had assembled navigated the reimagined labyrinth of Dark Side of the Moon Redux with precision, even if Waters occasionally seemed a bit strained. His sartorial choices for the evening, however — a flamboyant pink dinner jacket — made him appear almost comically grandiose, undermining the gravitas one usually associates with the album.
However, despite the competent musicality, the lyrical waxing occupied frequent bouts of boilerplate boomer manifesto, infused with a mix of New Atheism, lukewarm social justice stances, and a dash of support for Assange. This ideological casserole found a largely indifferent audience, reducing what could have been poignant moments to instances of awkward silence or half-hearted clapping.
The result is much more than a remastering. There’s the inevitable injection of cynicism, brewed over half a century, but the key themes are delivered with wisdom equal to Waters’ years, in contrast to the original release, which demonstrated an understanding of life, time, and the setting sun much greater than band’s age back then.
The Dark Side of the Moon Redux should be inspected as something not quite fresh but not quite reheated, a version 0.75 if you will. Stark comparisons to the original are misguided, as revising a masterpiece by one-quarter of a quartet will always be lonely and melancholic. It works very well.
The attempt to engage the crowd through projected video segments during the interval, detailing a track-by-track of Dark Side of the Moon, brought a welcome cinematic tinge to this 50-year-old revision of the record, and allowed a blown-up Roger’s face to beguile us with his eloquence and charm.
By the end, when Waters stumbled through half-forgetting the names of his band members during the applause, the show had morphed into something resembling a Blackpool variety performance, albeit a very well-funded one. It was as if the man had learnt, but perhaps not quite enough.
Despite redeeming changes, the concert still vacillated between the gloriously sublime and the awkwardly mundane. At 79, Waters is still a force, but last night suggested that even legends may grapple with the unforgiving tides of time and public expectation.
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