Roger Waters’s impromptu ‘Danny Boy’ gets a deafening response in Dublin
Review: The Pink Floyd man delivers a visually stunning, emotional show with a surprise ending
Roger Waters delivered an impromptu version of ‘Danny Boy’, rehearsed on the hoof earlier in the day. The response from the audience was deafening. Photograph: Frank Hoensch/Redferns
There are few British rock stars alive who came to prominence in the 1960s – you can almost count them on two hands: Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Ray Davies, Paul and Ringo, at least four of the Rolling Stones. Roger Waters, however, may have reaped the benefits of touring more than any of them.
Since the late 1990s, he has toured constantly, always focusing on one or more albums made famous by his former band, Pink Floyd. While that band’s early albums were solid expressions of hippie-art rock, blending patchouli-scented tunes with psychoactive rhythmic experimentation and largely pastoral/philosophical lyrics, it was with the arrival in the 1970s of albums such as Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977), and The Wall (1979) that copperfastened not only Pink Floyd’s status as one of the most commercially successful rock bands ever (Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall are two of the best-selling albums of all time) but also Waters’ position as the band’s primary lyricist and conceptual strategist.
Waters has used the latter skills to immensely successful effect in the years following the band’s bona fide final album (1994’s The Division Bell), coming up with ideas for the stage shows that focused notably on Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall (the live tour of which in 2010 is regarded as the highest-grossing of all time by a solo artist).
The Us + Them tour (so named after a song on Dark Side of the Moon) feels like an amalgam of the best bits from those 1970s albums, with a few songs from Waters’ latest solo album, 2017’s Is This the Life We Really Want?, and a track (One of These Days) from a lesser spotted Pink Floyd album, Meddle.
To call it a visual extravaganza is an understatement. There is no end of complementary effects (found sounds, huge animated spheres, simulated searchlights, a batch of Irish schoolkids wearing Resist t-shirts during Another Brick in the Wall, Pt 2) that keep the eyes busy while the music is performed.
After the intermission, the show takes on a serrated political edge as Waters lays into Donald Trump, but the obvious targeting seems genuine and rooted in the singer’s well documented anti-authoritarianism.
The set closes with a multiple whammy of Dark Side of the Moon songs: Money (another assault on Trump), Us and Them, Brain Damage and Eclipse. The encore includes Comfortably Numb and an impromptu version of Danny Boy, rehearsed on the hoof earlier in the day and delivered with hangdog charm. The response from the audience to this oddity amid such a staged show is deafening.
Throughout, Waters is a largely taciturn presence, saying little but responding nonetheless to audience adulation – in a surprise turn of events towards the close of the show, he actually steps off stage and walks among the front rows.
Usually a reserved figure, this display is indicative of the obvious connection generated between the musicians and the audience throughout the show.
Waters, now 74, may not pass this way again, but judging by tonight’s show (aurally and visually impactful, precise and in parts extremely emotive), he yet again proves his mastery of the immersive arena/rock/theatre form.
No one does it better, or with more depth of meaning. As for the surprise ending – we won’t spoil it for those attending on Wednesday night.
Roger Waters performs at 3Arena on Wednesday, June 27th