One year on from Live8, Roger Waters returns to Hyde Park, the scene of his one-off reunion with the band he's been estranged from for 20 years, to headline the first night of the Hyde Park Calling festival.
The bassist and composer is billed as "the creative genius behind Pink Floyd" and has enlisted the group's drummer, Nick Mason, to perform Dark Side of the Moon, their 1973 album and high-water mark in sonic experiments. David Gilmour, "the voice and guitar of Pink Floyd", has also been touring his solo album, On an Island, with Richard Wright, the keyboard player, and, more ironically, their sideman Jon Carin is managing to play keyboards and guitar with both sets of musicians. They all seem intent on putting Floyd tribute bands out of business.
6ft 2in, grey of hair, and wearing a black suit and T-shirt, Waters can't help smiling as he walks on stage but is soon snarling his way through "In The Flesh" and "Mother" from The Wall, the 1979 double album which saw the Floyd turn on themselves and their audience but sell millions. A dreamy, trippy "Set the Controls for the Heart of Sun" recalls the psychedelic heyday of 1968's A Saucerful Of Secrets, when Waters and co would play Hyde Park for free.
The bassist pays tribute to Syd Barrett, the band's original frontman and songwriter, in "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" while "Have a Cigar" recalls how disenchanted Waters became in the mid-Seventies. Biting the hand that fed wasn't probably the best response but somehow, the high concept of The Wall worked, though The Final Cut, the last album he recorded with the Floyd in 1983, didn't fare as well.
Performed on the day of the 90th anniversary of the battle of the Somme and with war still in Iraq, "Southampton Dock" and "Fletcher Memorial Home", from The Final Cut, acquire a new relevance and poignancy and show that Waters' bitter heart might have been in the right place all along. He reminisces about his days bumming around Europe and the Middle East in the early Sixties by way of introducing "Leaving Beirut", another anti-war diatribe.
Mason now joins the band and Waters' son Harry (on a Hammond organ) for Dark Side Of The Moon performed in its entirety. The sound is the best I have heard in Hyde Park and is testament to the composer's attention to detail, even if the visuals are on the cheap side. The music sweeps an attentive audience along, the line "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way" from Time made more apt by England's exit from the World Cup.
Couples are canoodling as if to prove that Dark Side Of The Moon wasn't just the ultimate coffee-table album but also the soundtrack to millions of people making love. The sun even sets at the end of "Eclipse", the album's climax.
Visibly moved, hand on chest, Waters thanks the audience profusely. They encore with, among others, "Another Brick in the Wall", and, for once, The Wall material feels inclusive rather than alienating. English footballers might not deliver on the world stage but vintage British musicians do.Reuse content