CULTURE

Roger Waters to give first Athens show

The primary force behind several Pink Floyd albums widely regarded as among the most important rock albums ever made, Roger Waters has been concentrating on his solo career for over two decades now. Not surprisingly, however, the magnitude of his celebrated past continues to overshadow the musician’s solo course. Waters, who filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against his former bandmates in the late 80s to prevent them from touring as Pink Floyd without him, is currently touring Europe for the first time since 1999, with plenty of emphasis on old Pink Floyd material. The itinerary includes a date in Greece this Sunday night on the outskirts of Athens at Terra Vibe, 37 kilometers north of the city. The show’s first half will consist of Pink Floyd and solo material, while the second half will feature a performance of «Dark Side of The Moon,» the landmark Pink Floyd album that, quite incredibly, has continued to hover in album charts more than two decades after its release. Waters provided all the lyrics and some of the music for that 1973 epic project. Waters, who has released several solo studio albums since his departure from Pink Floyd’s ranks, beginning with 1984’s «The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking,» is convinced that his former Pink Floyd days have not necessarily had a favorable impact on the popularity of his ensuing solo work. «If my last album had ‘Pink Floyd’ written on it, there’s no question it would be one the biggest records of all time, like ‘Dark Side of The Moon’,» he told journalist Jonathan Wingate in a rare interview for Kathimerini’s K magazine. When asked to describe what he thought made the classic Pink Floyd albums so special, Waters, a fresh-looking 62-year-old, remarked: «It’s a combination of things. Look, I don’t want to sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet, but I do think that the writing is very important. But also, Dave’s [Gilmour] voice is very important, I think, and his guitar playing too. I think those two things were really, you know, fundamentally important. I mean, they’re both great sounds.» Waters’s candid appreciation of Gilmour, Pink Floyd’s other key contributor to the band’s major albums (not including their 1967 debut release «The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,» for which Syd Barrett was the main man before he burnt out on LSD and faded into oblivion) is a far cry from the legal battle that resulted in the 80s, not long after 1983’s album «The Final Cut.» As suggested by the title, it had been billed as Pink Floyd’s last work. The band split and both Waters and Gilmour pursued respective solo careers. Gilmour’s first outing, «About Face,» sold strongly, but he was unable to detach from his legendary past and quicky recruited Pink Floyd members Nick Mason and Rick Wright to re-form the band, without Waters, which ignited the legal battle. The case went Gilmour’s way and he went on to lead the reformed band, still without Waters, for more albums and tours. Asked in the K interview whether he thought the idea of Pink Floyd carrying on without him was a bit like the thought of Paul and Ringo calling themselves the Beatles, Waters said: «Well, you know, everybody knows what David’s position and my position is on that question, so, I mean, it sort of doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter anymore.» Six years ago, Waters, Gilmour, Mason and Wright reunited for a one-off Pink Floyd performance at the Live 8 benefit show in London. «Ca Ira,» Waters’s entry into the world of opera, was released just months later, in October 2005, and topped the Billboard magazine classical chart. «I just think that music is music. We all know that music moves us in some tangible way, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a symphony orchestra or somebody twanging on an electric guitar. It’s just a change of palette. I’ve listened to string sections quite a lot making rock ‘n’ roll records, so I didn’t feel any sense of mystery about it. But I did have a lot of help in translating my ideas to the musicians, because there are certain conventions and technicalities in writing a score that I had no idea about beforehand,» Waters remarked in the K interview, when asked whether the idea of entering the world of opera was intimidating. Asked whether he felt a sense of pride that Pink Floyd’s work will be remembered in years to come, or that his music may have helped some people, Waters noted: «No, I’d just like to be remembered as a songwriter… When I was 15 or 16 years old and I first heard Ray Charles’s rendition of ‘Georgia on My Mind,’ I had no idea who had written that song, but I remember sitting there as this callow youth thinking: ‘My God, if I could ever write a song that could move anyone like this song moves me now, that would be it. I’d be happy.’ Although I think it’s a work of considerable genius, and I’m not comparing myself to Hoagy Carmichael, nevertheless I sense that at some point along the way, you know, I’ve provided that moment for somebody else in some other kitchen.»