Not everyone left the two nights of The Dark Side of the Moon Redux, Roger Waters’ reinterpretation of the Pink Floyd best-seller, feeling happy. Apparently, the musical performance was remarkable and ended with a standing ovation. The preceding theatrical part did not convince everyone, though. Neil McCormick of The Telegraph, in a review titled “If only he had let the music speak,” wrote that during the evening, the show went “from mildly ridiculous to absolutely sublime.”
Accustomed to his concerts in arenas, the 2,300 London Palladium spectators had the rare opportunity to see Waters on October 8th and 9th in a more intimate setting. The artist was accompanied by an extended lineup consisting of 14 musicians, including some members of his live band and a string section.
The show was divided into two parts. Before the Dark Side performance, McCormick writes, “we had to endure an hour or so of Waters playing the lousy stand-up comedian, giving speeches, telling off those who disturbed him, and indulging in long readings (from a laptop) of unpublished autobiographical excerpts centered not on rock ‘n’ roll stories but on various pets, including 20 minutes about a duck named Donald.”
Waters, continues the journalist, also engaged in “terrible imitations.” The effect? “Clumsy, unpleasant, and not at all rock ‘n’ roll. The stadium and arena master is a fish out of water in the role of a thespian.” According to William Parry of The National, “the audience’s laughter and shouts, not to mention the background noise of people talking while Waters read, made it clear that many just wanted to hear him sing.”
Will Hodgkinson of The Times described it as a “one-man non-show” that wasn’t adequately rehearsed. One of the stories told “started promisingly with a memory of Syd Barrett but revealed nothing, except that Barrett wrote a lot of songs and had an innocent look.”
The Palladium is owned by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, the author of the music for Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, and many other musicals, the same one mentioned by Waters in “It’s a Miracle” (“Andrew Lloyd Webber’s awful stuff plays for years and years, an earthquake hits the theater, but the operetta goes on, then the piano lid comes down and smashes those damn fingers; it’s a miracle”). Before the show, Lloyd Webber received appeals to cancel the two nights due to accusations of antisemitism against the former Pink Floyd member. He did not, and Waters thanked him on stage.