Whose concerts are better Gilmour or Waters
"Wine, women and rock - we were hungry for measurable success"
The French automobile club resides in a dignified palace right on the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Roger Waters, 62, is our guest today. He should answer questions about his concert project: "The Dark Side Of The Moon", the notorious Pink Floyd classic (23 million copies sold) from 1973, played again live, from the first to the last song. On June 8th, he will also be performing with the show in Berlin's Wuhlheide. Waters, who is a little reminiscent of a tall Richard Gere, seems to be happy to have once again attracted public interest.
Welt am Sonntag: Mr. Waters, if you take a look at your career, you might notice a tendency towards megalomania. It always had to be the largest stages and the greatest number of spectators.
Roger Waters: That's an interesting observation ... We all know that in 1990, just a short time after the historic fall of the Iron Curtain, I played a gigantic show in Berlin. It was the one-time rerun of "The Wall". It was a huge spectacle, the concert was broadcast worldwide. But since then I've actually been baking smaller rolls: I've been on tour again and again - but in smaller halls with capacities between 15,000 and 20,000 visitors.
This is what other musicians dream of.
Waters: I admit it: I am convinced of the idea that people can be fascinated by bombastic productions. Above all, I love the visual and would therefore say that the light show and, ideally, the surroundings of a concert are very important. In fact, in 2000 I was asked if I would like to do "The Wall" again, in the Grand Canyon. And I also tell you: I toyed with the idea of accepting.
Isn't it very hot there?
Waters: You got it. Plus, shows of this size cost a lot of money. More than you can imagine.
You mean: there might not have been enough people?
Waters: No. I was offered the concert as a free concert - nobody would have had to pay admission. Crowds all the way to the horizon, you see? No problem. I liked the idea. I even suggested we have a second concert in New York, on Wall Street. "The Wall" on Wall Street - I could laugh myself to death, that would have been too good. But kidding aside: Unfortunately that didn't work, you can't close the business district for a few days.
Good, but what causes a concert to fail, if not due to a lack of demand?
Waters: The organizers suggested: Instead of performing "The Wall" in the Grand Canyon or Wall Street, we should go straight to Indianapolis. You already know: the largest racetrack in the world. Hundreds of thousands would have fit in there. But then I started to wonder what Free Concert actually means: Free in America means that Coca-Cola and American Express would have paid for the concert - and passed the free tickets on to people who would have Coca-Cola buy or pay with American Express. A free concert is nothing more than a gigantic marketing measure. A Roger Waters is not available for this. I canceled the whole thing.
Your old band Pink Floyd also stands for dignified gigantomania. Since you left in 1983, she has been led by your former companion, David Gilmour.
Waters: Yes, David Gilmour and Nick Mason, our drummer, own the naming rights to Pink Floyd. You can call your band Pink Floyd, I can't call my band that.
Did that hurt back then? After all, you wrote some of Pink Floyd's most important songs and the last Pink Floyd album, "The Final Cut", almost single-handedly ...
Waters: No, I was a grown man. I knew I had to leave Pink Floyd to get on with my own work and life.
After her departure, Pink Floyd steadfastly released albums and gave at least as spectacular concerts as you did with "The Wall" in Berlin. Among other things, Pink Floyd performed in front of hundreds of thousands on a floating stage in Venice. Were you jealous?
Waters: I heard the rumor that Venice sank 0.8 millimeters deeper into the lagoon during the concert. I don't believe rumors in general, but it makes you think. I can't say more about that: I wasn't there. Of course I wasn't there. I want and I should better not comment on it.
During the Live 8 festival, Pink Floyd reunited for a day. For the first time in 23 years you played side by side with David Gilmour, whom you have repeatedly referred to in interviews as a person you simply cannot stand ...
Waters: That's right. We think differently and feel differently about many things that concerned us and Pink Floyd. But by now it should have got around that it was me who called David Gilmour - and after some back and forth he finally agreed to this performance.
Was it a good idea?
Waters: The performance was absolutely right. The tremendous power that we four musicians were able to unleash on stage totally blew me away. It just sounded great. Remember: Dave and I haven't spoken a word since 1983. The gig enabled us to step back from our extremely opposing positions and play some of our songs together.
And how did the reunification of the greatest band in recent pop history come about?
Waters: At one point I got a call from Nick Mason. He said he'd like to perform on Live-8, but Dave wasn't in the mood. You know, you can't just call David Gilmour and ask if he'd like to perform. You have to roll out a diplomatic rug for him. So I called Bob Geldof and explained how to talk to Dave. The conversation was elliptical for a couple of weeks. Then there was this surreal phone call in which Bob told me about world peace and how important this event was for Africans.
What's so surreal about that?
Waters: Geldof's friend had her 30th birthday that day. He had promised her to take her out to dinner. Again and again he interrupted his lengthy explanations about Africa to call out to her: Take the green dress, honey! Try the other chain! I just wanted to know when we should perform.
Did you not know the date, July 2, 2005?
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