Good news for North American fans of Roger Waters, music legend and former member of Pink Floyd. Roger has announced tour dates for the summer of 2017, with no less than forty gigs in prestigious arenas throughout the USA and Canada.
Roger Waters was born in England in 1943. His father, Eric Fletcher Waters, served as a soldier in the Second World War and was killed in action near Rome in February 1944, having previously been a pacifist and conscientious objector. The poignancy of Roger’s lyrics and his commitment to humanitarian causes can surely be traced back to this early loss. Roger’s childhood was spent with his mother and his brother in the university town of Cambridge, England.
Roger Waters became well known as a founder member of the 1960s psychedelic band Pink Floyd, where he played bass and contributed vocals alongside his childhood friend, the intensely creative Syd Barrett (lead vocals and guitar). Other members of the band were Nick Mason (drums) and Rick Wright (keyboards), whom Roger had met at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London.
Pink Floyd helped to create the alternative music scene in “Swinging London” in the late 60s. The experimental nature of their music influenced many contemporary performers. Their debut album ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ plus several hit singles confirmed their standing in both the popular and progressive music charts.
When Syd Barrett left Pink Floyd in 1967, due to mental health problems, Roger Waters became, in many people’s eyes, the “conceptual leader” of the group. Talented vocalist and guitarist Dave Gilmour, a familiar face from Cambridge, joined the band in 1967. Further experimental albums followed: ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’ (1968), ‘Ummagamma’(1969), ‘Atom Heart Mother’ (1970) and ‘Meddle’ (1971).
Roger’s song writing contributions increased as he steered the band towards their best-selling albums of the 1970s: ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ (1973), ‘Wish You Were Here’ (1975), ‘Animals’ (1977), ‘The Wall’ (1979). Their live concerts were the stuff of rock legends, with dramatic staging, lighting and pyrotechnics. Pink Floyd continued to appeal to mainstream music fans of all ages, as well as connoisseurs of more “arty” music.
However there were often creative tensions within the band, as one would expect with such highly intelligent protagonists. Roger Waters left Pink Floyd in 1985. By that time Rick Wright had also quit the band, although he later re-joined as a session musician and eventually became a full time member once more. By the end of 1987 Roger had signed the legal papers which allowed him full copyright of ‘The Wall ‘ concept and also the inflatable pig from ‘Animals’, whilst Dave Gilmour and Nick Mason retained the right to perform and release material as Pink Floyd.
Roger Waters released three thought-provoking solo albums in the late 1980s and 1990s: ‘The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking’ (1984), ‘Radio K.A.O.S.’ (1987) and ‘Amused to Death’ (1992). During this period he preferred to work in the studio. It wasn’t until 1999 (the ‘In The Flesh’ tour) that Roger went back on the road in earnest, showcasing tracks from his solo albums and a selection of Pink Floyd tunes.
Inspired by his political and humanitarian ideals, in 1990 Roger Waters staged a dramatic performance of ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin’, to celebrate the dismantling of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the new understanding between western Europe and Russia. He employed an East German symphony orchestra and a Soviet marching band. The massive character puppets were designed by political cartoonist, Gerald Scarfe. Many prominent musicians took part; Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Bryan Adams and German rockers, Scorpions.
In 2005 Roger Waters reunited with his former Pink Floyd band mates, Nick Mason, Dave Gilmour and Rick Wright for the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, London. They played a 23 minute set featuring key tracks from their 1970s albums. It was the last time this Pink Floyd incarnation would all play together. The possibility of a more permanent arrangement was deemed “slight”. Roger had his own path to follow. When Rick Wright passed away in 2008, any thoughts of a full Pink Floyd reunion died with him.
A full two-year Roger Waters world tour began in 2006 under the title ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’. The first half of the show featured Pink Floyd songs and solo material by Roger. The second half comprised of a live performance of the entire 1973 album ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’. The concerts ended with an encore from the third side of ‘The Wall’. There was elaborate staging involving lasers, fog machines, psychedelic projectors, fireworks and the inevitable inflatable puppets. Nick Mason joined Roger on stage at selected gigs during this tour.
In July 2008, Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour played four songs together at The Hoping Foundation charity concert. The sound of bridges being tentatively rebuilt, perhaps, as the passage of time smoothed over previous differences of opinion.
In 2010 Roger began his most ambitious tour yet, ‘The Wall – Live’. The shows were updated versions of the original Pink Floyd gigs with a complete performance of ‘The Wall’. It was a very successful project. In 2013 it was reported that, ‘The Wall Live’ was the highest-grossing tour of all time by a solo artist. Roger was joined on stage at the O2 arena, London by Nick Mason and Dave Gilmour for ‘Outside the Wall’ and ‘Comfortably Numb’.
Recent prestigious festival appearances were headline slots at The Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island, in 2015 and at the Desert Trip Festival in October 2016.
In October 2016 Roger Waters announced a 44-date tour of North America. The first concert of the ‘Us and Them’ tour is on 26 May 2017 in Kansas City and the final concert will be in Vancouver on 28 October 2017. Roger has promised that “It’ll be spectacular, like all my shows have been”. His plan is that three-quarters of the show will be older material and about a quarter of the performance will be newer material. Do not miss this opportunity to see and hear a living rock legend.
Susan Lomas November 2016
Roger Waters’ 2017 tour of the US and Canada looks amazing: