Roger Waters @ First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York
Thursday, June 21, 2012

By: Thom Jennings

In the late 1970s Roger Waters approached his Pink Floyd band mates with two ideas for concept albums. One of them grew from an experience at a concert where fans heckled Waters at a concert and he spat on them. The imaginary wall Waters perceived was a barrier between him and the fans, and grew out of his disillusionment with the rock star lifestyle.

In spite of the dark overtones, it is clear that Roger Waters has embraced the concert stage and fallen in love with his audience. Before performing “Mother,” as a duet of sorts, with a video version of himself from a 1980 Pink Floyd performance, he noted that the 1980 Waters was not a nice person. At the end of the Buffalo performance Waters beamed with pride and said, “When I wrote this thing over 31 years ago I hated being in front of nice people like you, now I fucking love it!” That in many ways sums up the performance. If one looks past the huge wall and unparalleled production, there sits a performer who has reached his peak at a time when many rock musicians are relegated to stiff performances of their past hits at casinos.

Waters newfound enjoyment of live performance has thus changed the emphasis of “The Wall.” The message isn’t about rock star excess, it is about governmental excess, abuse of power and imperialism. Ultimately it is Water’s expression the profound impact that his father’s death in combat had on him.

In between sets, while many fans scooted off to the restroom or to hunt down some food and drink, pictures and small bios of servicemen and women were projected on the huge wall constructed during the first set. The soldiers were not from one particular war or one era, the only commonality they had is that their death still had an impact on someone who is still alive. One of those panels had the name Eric Fletcher Waters, Roger’s father. It didn’t have special recognition; it was Roger’s way of showing solidarity to those who have lost loved ones in a military conflict. Amazingly, through the crystal clear sound, striking imagery and tremendous musicianship, that message was not lost, and certainly remains as relevant today as it was when the album first appeared. The difference between today’s geopolitical climate and what it was in 1980 is that an anti-war message would not have resonated with the audience then, because it was a time of relative peace, at least in this part of the world.

One thing this show proves is that “The Wall” was Roger Water’ finest hour as a composer, and even though it appeared under the Pink Floyd moniker it really was a Roger Waters album, so much so that it led to the dissolution of the quintessential Floyd lineup.

Thirty one years later it has provided the perfect vehicle for Waters to come to terms with the real source of his alienation. It wasn’t the audience at a rock concert, it was the people that make war and that ultimately took a little boy’s father from him. With that Waters is no longer the stereotypical snooty rock star; he is a star performer and a purveyor of a powerful anti-war message; a message that will likely outlive all of us.

Set List:

Set 1

In the Flesh?(Pink Floyd song)
The Thin Ice(Pink Floyd song)
Another Brick in the Wall Part 1(Pink Floyd song)
The Happiest Days of Our Lives(Pink Floyd song)
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2(Pink Floyd song)
Mother(Pink Floyd song)
Goodbye Blue Sky (Pink Floyd song)
Empty Spaces(Pink Floyd song)
What Shall We Do Now?(Pink Floyd song)
Young Lust(Pink Floyd song)
One of My Turns(Pink Floyd song)
Don't Leave Me Now(Pink Floyd song) Another Brick in the Wall Part 3(Pink Floyd song)
The Last Few Bricks(Pink Floyd song)
Goodbye Cruel World(Pink Floyd song)

Set 2

Hey You(Pink Floyd song)
Is There Anybody Out There? (Pink Floyd song)
Nobody Home (Pink Floyd song)
Vera (Pink Floyd song)
Bring the Boys Back Home (Pink Floyd song)
Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd song)
The Show Must Go On (Pink Floyd song)
In the Flesh(Pink Floyd song)
Run Like Hell (Pink Floyd song)
Waiting for the Worms(Pink Floyd song)
Stop (Pink Floyd song)
The Trial (Pink Floyd song)
Outside the Wall (Pink Floyd song)

All Photos by Gus Griesinger

We would like to thank Tim Tobin from Livenation and Melissa Levine from Columbia records for their assistance in helping review the show.

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