Flickering Fireworks – The Angry Years – Part I

Sometimes you stumble across a RoIO that you keep not for its musical value, but for its entertainment value. This RoIO (which features only about 5 minutes of music out of more than an hour of stuff) clearly falls in that category. It is a brilliant (albeit not totally complete) collection of Roger’s onstage rantings and ravings from 1970 through 1999.

Philippe: Through this period, you can follow the evolution of Roger’s perception of his relationship with his audience. You can really tell how his ‘magical connection’ with the fans in the early 1970s changes into alienation and frustration in the second half of that decade. Then it turns into mocking and derision of the crowd during the Wall shows, more miscommunication on the 1984-85 Pros and Cons, a start of some kind of acceptance on the KAOS tour and finally once again a true appreciation for his fans in 1999-2000.

Gerhard: It includes the familiar ones like his wake-up call to Rick Wright (13 March 1970, Berlin), and the joiking "cruel but fair" remark from 26 April 1975 (immortalized on the Cruel But Fair RoIO).

Philippe: I think what strikes me more from the rants on the latter show is his frustration with the security guards in the yellow shirts who are "f*cking wandering about".

One of the best bits is from the 14 November 1970 Hamburg show with his very witty reaction to a request for "The Nile Song": "Okay, fine, wonderful, good, great, terrific. Wonderful, "The Nile Song", yes… Never heard of it. Any other requests?" He was in a talkative mood that night, because there were also other humorous remarks.

But it’s ironic that it isn’t until he starts taking the show too seriously that things really become funny, with the highlights being his "You stupid motherf*cker" and "No more f*cking fireworks, all right?" outcries from the 3 July 1977 show at Madison Square Gardens show. And of course the Montreal show from 1977.

Gerhard: There are also the more interesting parts from the ’77 numbers game

Philippe: Yeah, it’s a good thing it’s just a selection of the more interesting ones, because you could fill an entire CD with just all the numbers games of the entire Animals tour. Fact is, once you’ve heard one number game, you’ve heard them all.

Gerhard: Most of the Wall rantings (including the fire during the first Wall show) are also here.

Philippe: Those Wall bits also include my favorite announcement before a Floyd song ever, from 6 June 1980 in Earls Court:

RW (after talking about the pig): This is a song for all the pig-lovers in the audience. [Crowd moderately cheering] RW: And for all the discos and disco-freaks. [Crowd booing] RW: And all the paranoids and psychopaths. [Crowd LOUDLY cheering] RW: It’s called "Run Like F*ck"!

Almost all the Wall bits seem to be about pigs or paranoiacs or disco, and on one occasion even about Neil Diamond. That Waters bloke really must have been a deranged person at the time. 🙂 I don’t think the bits from The Wall rehearsals should have been included, because all the other rants are rants directed to the crowd, and at a rehearsal there is–by definition–no crowd.

Gerhard: Another highlight is the rare impromptu performance of "Set The Controls" in 1987 when an equipment failure caused Roger to play that tune to fill the gap.

Philippe: This also marks a turning point in Roger’s attitude about playing live. It happened right after he dedicated the next song ("Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert" / "Southampton Dock") to his father "and all the others", so you would expect he’d be pissed off about that failure, but instead he turns the negative into a positive and gives this off-the-cuff performance. Though you never know if anything is ever impromptu on a Roger Waters concert.

Gerhard: And of course the "stop fucking whistling” version of "The Gunners Dream" also had to be included.

Philippe: Quite a contrast with the previous song. I never heard Roger admonishing the crowd during a song before, except during "Pigs on the Wing" in 1977. It shows he still wasn’t quite ready to accept his fans at this point. Though one has to admit that all the whistling during this great song is indeed very annoying.

Gerhard: From the recent years there’s the rain-interrupted "Another Brick in the Wall" from the 1999 tour.

Philippe: Not to mention his Gary Yudman impression before the show at the Gorge where the crowd was buzzed by the tour plane.

His ‘rants’ from 1999-2000 are much more relaxed and friendly to the crowd, even when he’s interrupted during his speech about the origins of ‘Each Small Candle’. It’s once again the same old relaxed Roger from the early seventies. The circle is complete.

Gerhard: If you like Roger’s rantings, you should really get your hands on this one.

Philippe: Definitely. But you shouldn’t listen to this as you listen to a music album. There is some attention required from the listener; this isn’t to be played as some background music.

Because of all the talking and the almost-complete absence of music you shouldn’t approach this as you would your average rock album, but more as you would a Monty Python album. But those can also be very entertaining. And who knows, maybe you’ll hear something that you haven’t heard before.

Gerhard: And now on to more traditional things…

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