Roger Waters

Hyde Park Calling review

published: Mon 3rd Jul 2006

Saturday 1st to Sunday 2nd July 2006
Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH, England MAP
£42.50 for each day, or £80 for both - on sale 9am Friday 10th March
last updated: Thu 4th May 2006

It’s only half an hour until Roger Waters and the crowd builds up rapidly for the event everyone has come to see and what a spectacle it turns out to be! Both visually and with the 360 degree quadraphonic sound system aurally too.

In all my years of festival and concert going this rates as probably one of the three best gigs I’ve ever been to. It’s just a stunning display of visuals, musicianship, powerful songs, atmosphere, emotion and the best sound at a gig I’ve ever heard. If I could get way with a one word review it’d just be – Woooooooooow!

Beneath a thin crescent moon and with the sun low in the sky, the gathered throng have to wait 15 minutes until to a huge cheer Roger, friends and family (his son Harry) take to the stage. With a cascade of fireworks and a bank of vertical lights behind the band and above it a huge projection screen – needing an additional crane to hold it up, a giant crossed hammer insignia flashes onto the screen, as Roger wryly snarls “I’d have all of you shot!” and points directly at all of us from the big screens as he unleashes ‘In the Flesh.’

And the opening song has been dispatched from the greatest show on Earth! ‘Mother’ has Roger switch to acoustic guitar from trademark bass, the line “Mother should I trust the Government?” gets a huge cheer! The visuals of the film running behind the band of a man in a room are crystal clear.

The screens, there are two normal festival sized screens, phalanxing the main stage alter to black and white shots of Syd’s Floyd as ‘Set the Controls For The Sun Of The Sun’ and some early footage of Floyd toying with stop motion film.

The screens finish with a shot of deep space and a beautiful cloud of space dust surrounded by stars. The first few bars raise a huge cheer for ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’ with poignant shots of Syd Barrett and it’s a highly charged emotional anthem.

‘Have a Cigar’ is equally brilliant as the sunset spills over the fairground behind us and ‘Wish You Were Here’ has the crowd singing their hearts out, having already had them ripped up by the football – it’s goosebumpingly emotional.

Despite being written about the Argentine war ‘Southampton Dock’ is still hugely pertinent today, with the current conflicts. As is ‘The Fletcher Memorial Home’ and ‘Perfect Sense’, which had the spacewalk and an inflatable man in space suit and jet pack cross the stage. So too, the rather out of place ‘Leaving Beirut’ with cartoon graphics and the song words provided in balloon speech bubbles.

Roger walks out to tell us they’re taking a 10 minute break before bringing us the whole of ‘Darkside of The Moon’ with Nick Mason on drums and a large full moon is displayed on the huge screen – which then uses it’s shape for a huge circular visual odyssey accompanied by the best soundtrack in the world ever!

It’s just impossible to put into words how good the band is. On guitar Dave Kilminster, Snowy White and Andy Fairweather-Low on drums Graham Broad on keyboard Jon Carin and son Harry Waters on Hammond and Ian Ritchie on Saxophone. With Katie Kissoon, P. P. Arnold and Carol Kenyon doing the backing vocals. Plus, of course his good friend Nick Mason.

It’s all exactly as the album even down to the break and radio re-tuning and helicopter noises and imagine it in perfect sound quality with the best visuals on a screen bigger than you see your telly at home, plus a whole band playing it for you! All this, and a solitary guitar inflatable drifting off into the fading sunset. Those that were there will never forget this night.

By its climax the whole crowd have been on a huge journey of perfect sound and visual delights. Too numerous to mention, Nick Mason’s drumming has been superlative and as both he and Roger take a bow with the band, Roger says how great the crowd has been, I think he’s being genuine, very few real big crowds I’ve sat in have been so full of this much emotion, it’s made the night as much as the quality tunes and the sultry warm summer night.

The encore is a massive sing along to ‘Brick in the Wall’ and the climax of the anti-war message on this memorial day for The Somme 90 years on is ‘Vera’ and the words ‘Bring The Boys Back Home’ the letters in huge red capitals flying through the vertical lights behind the band and pictures of Vera Lynn, fighter plans and gargantuan orange explosions. It’s a hugely charged finale so much strong anti war statement and the strength of anti-Bush’s administration which spills from it, is powerful stuff.

Finally it’s the monolith that is ‘Comfortably Numb’ and by god we are! Waters thanks us, visibly moved as it’s been so emotional! It’s been a thrilling odyssey and quite possibly the greatest gig of my life! I saw Gilmour’s Pink Floyd in 1990 at Knebworth and left disappointed and disillusioned before the end. Tonight made me realize I just watched the wrong act. Hyde Park tonight was like watching the ‘real’ Pink Floyd at their best – awesome!

And so we left the arena, warm in our summer clothes and headed out of a festival and into a busy metropolis, what a culture shock!
review by: Scott Williams

Saturday 1st to Sunday 2nd July 2006
Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH, England MAP
£42.50 for each day, or £80 for both - on sale 9am Friday 10th March
last updated: Thu 4th May 2006

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