On 25 April 2023, the day that Frankfurt city was defeated in the court for trying to cancel his late May show, thereby winning out the argument for free speech for an artist, Roger Waters, Pink Floyd co-founder, ex-frontman and bass player, played at the Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland.
And so the evening carried on with a lot of free speech from Waters. In fact, a message played before the gig started, warned those that did not agree with his politics could simply “f-off”. So we all knew where we, and he, stood from the start!
With a stage set up in the middle of the hall, and divided into quarters by massive video walls such that you could only see a couple of band members from where you were seated, the show kicked off with a re-worked ‘Comfortably Numb’ that was way more depressing that the original and even more so without the guitar solos any fan would be expecting. Things were not looking good for the die-hard Pink Floyd fans.
But then the the walls lifted so the sold out crowd could see all the band, and the tempo and energy also lifted via a trio of ‘The Wall’ songs with Waters focused on vocals (no bass) while his band carried the music well. Meanwhile, on the screens a stream of political imagery and texts bombarded the arena giving, at times, something to read and think about, but at other times making a distraction from the actual performance.
Waters then took us back in time to the beginning of Pink Floyd and shared a bit of his relationship and challenges with Syd Barrett, which was quite touching, and also covering some of his own struggles as the band grew to a monster during the 70’s and 80’s. All this fittingly to a backdrop of tracks from the ‘Wish you were here’ era.
The first half of the concert closed with an excellent rendition of ‘Sheep’ coupled with the obligatory, but entertaining, sheep-drone dive-bombing the audience and turning summersaults.
After the break, Waters returns to ‘The Wall’ and treats the fans to ‘In the Flesh’ and ‘Run like Hell’ – and here is where the controversy regarding the German gigs comes in – the pig flying overhead emblazoned with various company logos and other texts… but having been warned at the start, the pig seemed to be relatively OK accepted…
After a few more of Waters’ later songs, we take a trip to the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and power through ‘Money’ – ‘Us and them’ – ‘Any Colour you Like’ – ’Brain Damage’ and finally ‘Eclipse’ closing off the main set in style. You wouldn’t believe these tracks are now 50 years old, like most of the audience, and the band pulls them off admirably.
Waters then returns for encore and closes with ‘Outside the Wall’.
Overall a great night out with about a 2.5 hours immersive experience that moves the concert dial forwards from the regular band playing at one end of a large space. Congratulations to Waters for delivering a massive show!
Photos by Urs.