On the 8th & 9th October 2023, Roger Waters performed 2 shows at the London Palladium to celebrate the release of his Dark Side of the Moon Redux album – as I’m sure you would have known if you have read any of my track review articles, this was his re-interpretation & revisiting of the album that he, along with the rest of Pink Floyd, created back in 1973, which is considered one of the most popular rock albums ever made.
Ahead of the event, a schedule was e-mailed out, along with details: mobile devices, smart watches, and other recording tools would be put in pouches that would be opened after the performance, and the show was made up of two distinct parts – 50 minutes of Roger Waters, and then 50 minutes of Dark Side of the Moon Redux (with a 20 minute intermission between both). I assumed this to mean 50 minutes of songs not on the album, and then 50 minutes of the album. How mistaken I was.
When the show started, Roger did what he likes to do when he’s not singing – talking. He thanked the owner of the venue to allow for him to perform, and then asked the audience whether we would humour him by letting him read one of his planned memoir excerpts – he mentioned that the night before, he read three of them and went a bit over time (turns out he spent an hour just on the excerpts alone!). The story he told us was one about a duck that he befriended – while it went on in places, I personally thought it had a decent level of heart and humour behind it, which made me realise that this performance was more akin to A Night With Roger Waters, as opposed to a full-blown concert.
However, he did play a couple of songs with the band before he went away for the interval. The first was The Bar – a song introduced on the This Is Not A Drill tour in two parts, which was played as a single entity. It could be the smaller size of the Palladium, but the song sounded fantastic at this performance – the use of the string instruments in particular really hit me and made the song a lot clearer to me. The band then went onto an acoustic performance of Mother – a song of an overprotective maternal figure from The Wall, complete with a Theremin solo in place of the usual electric guitar solo. With The Wall being my personal favourite Pink Floyd album, and the fact that this song was not played on the TINAD tour, it was definitely an added treat! As the band went away for a break, a 20 minute movie was played showing the inspiration of the track breakdown on the redux, giving a bit of analysis and views from Roger around the album as a whole, after which the interval took place.
Then the second half started – it won’t surprise you that it was, as advertised, a live performance of Dark Side of the Moon Redux, spoken word poetry and all. During the spoken word aspects, there would be screens that came down, onto which the lines being uttered would be projected, in time with the music – it definitely added an atmosphere to the show, especially considering that the location was a fairly small venue, so the band had to make do with the facilities afforded to them. Apart from the singles that had been released, I went into the performance blind, since I wanted to hear how the album sounded live in its entirety for the first time round. Apart from a few misses (Money unfortunately still doesn’t do anything for me on this album), I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at parts. Despite the lack of singing throughout a lot of it, and the more barebones instrumentation, it was definitely an interesting experience – it is also the first time that I can say that I’ve seen a Theremin be used in a live performance, and that it works so well as a replacement for the guitars/synths present in the original! Hearing such an album, unbroken from start to finish was also a unique experience. Couple that with the spoken word screens and the presence of a prism that would change colour throughout the songs, in such a small venue, made it feel very personal and intimate than a large arena performance.
Overall, while the mileage varied for different attendees (just look at some of the reviews!), I thought it was a very unique experience that I feel lucky to have been able to have attended. Even though not all of the aspects were for me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It may also help that I was able to get an exclusive orange vinyl from the merch stand…