Gigs, small and (very) big

I've been seeing TV ads for Roger Waters' upcoming New Zealand shows: they
look spectacular.

And so you would expect. After all, this is the man responsible for the third biggest-grossing concert tour of all time. And the figures are truly brain-boggling.

Roger Waters' ‘The Wall Live' Tour, which crossed the globe between 2010 and 2013, achieved a gross of US$458,673,798. That's damn near half a billion American dollars.

Which works out at just over two million per show. I find myself rendered speechless.

My first instinct is to rail at the sheer overwhelming stupid excess of it all. Half a billion dollars for a tour?

And it's hard not to feel a certain irony that a man who has incessantly ranted against the corporate machine should be exploiting its profit potential quite so clinically.

And I'm sure the arguments could continue over many a bottle of wine as to the ethics of all that.

Ultimately I guess it is what it is.

But it made me realise that I hadn't even bothered to check out ‘Is This The Life We Really Want?', Waters' latest album which arrived a couple of months back.

Local folk

But first up, another gig, and one that won't set you back as much as Rog's Auckland extravaganza, for which tickets cost between $100 (back of the stands) to $299. They go on sale this weekend and I suspect those $100 seats will sell out pretty quickly.

Given the massive special effects for which Waters is known this might be one show where the back of the stands isn't a bad place to be.

On the local front, next Friday, September 15 ‘My Pennyworth' are playing at the Katikati Folk Club. The duo comprises Paul Hoggard and Penny Rowsell-Hoggard, local singer/songwriters who have been together for about 10 years. In that time they've become a fixture on the Tauranga folk scene, partly because it's their orchard where the rather wonderful Aongatete Folk Festival happens at the start of each year, but also because they've also been constantly active musically. They've taken their songs all round New Zealand and have toured through the UK and Ireland twice. Last year they released their fourth album, an unpretentious collection that combines folk styles with gentle pop/rock. It's been three years since the duo played at the folk club so there'll be a lot of people looking forward to the concert. Things kick off at 7.30pm at The Katikati Bowling Club.

The life we want

And back to our Rog and ‘Is This The Life We Really Want?' (Skipping any snarky jokes about the life you really want being a bit easier with half a billion dollars in ticket revenue...)

Since his days with Pink Floyd, Waters' albums have been gradually getting less and less attention.

Does anyone actually remember his last release 12 years ago? It was an opera called ‘Ca Ira', a double CD based on a French libretto co-written by Etienne and Nadine Roda-Gil on the subject of the early French Revolution. His last album ‘proper' was actually ‘Amused To Death', from a full 25 years ago.

And not a lot of people listened to that.

I must report that the new album is kinda classic Roger Waters; it has a typical Floydian grandeur but with more strings. There are the (slightly obvious) sound effects, bombastic power chords, half-whispered vocals over acoustic guitar and piano, and many other signature moments.

There are also Waters' lyrics, so cleverly and cynically over the top that they're simultaneously funny and presumably entirely serious: he rants about Trump, he's still hung up on World War II; he deplores rampant capitalism.   

‘Déjà vu' starts with the lines: “If I had been God/I would have rearranged the veins in the face to make them more/Resistant to alcohol and less prone to ageing.” That seems very Roger Waters.

As it does later in the song when he sings: “If I had been God/With my staff and my rod/If I had been given the nod/I believe I could have done a better job.”


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