Roger Waters ‘spent 30 minutes reading from unpublished memoir’ during ‘awkward’ London show

Roger Waters spent an hour of his show at the London Palladium making speeches and reading long passages from an unpublished autobiography, according to disgruntled music critics.

The controversial Pink Floyd musician, 80, headlined the 2,286-capacity venue on Sunday 8 October, his first show in the capital since he played two nights at the O2 Arena last June.

Waters has just released The Dark Side of the Moon Redux, his album of reworked versions of the songs from Pink Floyd’s celebrated record, which turned 50 this year.

Sunday marked his first of two intimate shows performing the new versions of the songs, with the second due to take place tonight (Monday 9 October).

However, critics reported that the first hour of the set contained just two songs, and otherwise consisted of Waters “ranting” about Julian Assange and reading several excerpts from a laptop of his yet-to-be-published memoir, while sitting behind a desk.

“One story involved a duck that came to live in the family home,” The Times’ critic Will Hodgkinson wrote. “Another began promisingly as a memory of Floyd’s original leader, Syd Barrett, but revealed nothing more than that Barrett wrote a lot of songs and had an innocent air about him.”

Hodgkinson reported that, “unsurprisingly”, members of the audience heckled Waters during this “under-rehearsed, one-man non-show”.

Waters’ response was apparently one of “a scary headmaster shouting down naughty kids at assembly”, which created an uncomfortable mood in the venue.

“It had an unrehearsed air, with a tension exacerbated by Waters’s school masterly demeanour, as he sternly brooked no interruption,” agreed The Telegraph’s music critic, Neil McCormick.

“Perhaps carried away by the theatrical setting, he delivered bad Bruce Forsyth and Max Bygraves impressions. It was awkward, uncomfortable and very un rock’n’roll. A master of stadiums and arenas, playing the showbiz raconteur in a theatre he was, well, a fish out of water.”

The Independent has contacted Waters for comment.

Roger Waters was criticised overas aspects of his intimate concert at the London Palladium (PA Archive)
Roger Waters was criticised overas aspects of his intimate concert at the London Palladium (PA Archive)

Waters’ show took place shortly after a documentary examined the musician’s history of inflammatory remarks about Israel. Waters has vehemently denied that he is an antisemite.

The documentary, titled The Dark Side of Roger Waters, includes a number of unsettling emails and interviews with those who have worked with the controversial musician, including Bob Ezrin, the acclaimed co-producer behind the band’s 1979 album The Wall.

One musician, saxophonist Norbert Stachel, claimed that Waters once angrily pushed away a dish served to him in a Lebanese restaurant, referring to it as “Jew food”.

Ezrin, who is Jewish, alleged that he heard Waters use antisemitic slurs and that Waters composed a song about the band’s former agent, Bryan Morrison.

“Something like the last line of the couplet was ‘cause Morry is a f***ing Jew’. It was my first inclination that there may be some antisemitism under the surface,” Ezrin, 74, said in the documentary.

Pink Floyd producer Bob Ezrin (YouTube)
Pink Floyd producer Bob Ezrin (YouTube)

“Now Roger knew that I’m Jewish so I didn’t know whether this was another one of those sort of button-poking things that he was doing just to see if I would react or whether he just did not even get how offensive that might be to a Jewish person.”

“Do I think he considers himself to be an antisemite?” Ezrin said in the documentary. “I’ll bet you dollars for doughnuts he does not and he will be the first person to say: ‘I’m not anti anything, I am in favour of everyone.’

“But as a person with a powerful public platform he has a responsibility to understand that what he does affects other people and so he may not be one but he walks like one, he quacks like one, he swims like one so from my point of view he’s functionally a duck.”

Producers said Waters declined to comment when approached about the documentary. His representative did not respond to The Independent’s request for comment.