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Home arrow Older News Archive arrow Roger Waters - Israel visit, June 21st/22nd 2006
Roger Waters - Israel visit, June 21st/22nd 2006 Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Wednesday, 26 July 2006
Exclusive report and pictures of Roger's visit to Israel, courtesy of War On Want. Please note: there are strong feelings on either side of the issues involved. As a site that fans come to for news of all the band members activities, our job is NOT to censor what they do but merely report on it for those who are interested. As with any report, the views in the review are those held by the writer, and are not necessarily those held by Brain Damage - however, we have edited it slightly. For the full version of the report, go to www.waronwant.org.

War On Want

We took former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters to Bethlehem, and helped him graffiti Israel's wall near Abu Dis. Thousands came to his gig the next day at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. James Robertson reports






It wasn’t your average gig promotion. Not many musicians publicise their concerts by turning up in Palestine to graffiti a wall with a line from one of their songs [pictured here], risking arrest and sparking controversy in doing so.

Still, Roger Waters is not your average musician and this gig hardly needed promoting: originally planned for Tel Aviv, then moved to Neve Shalom after pressure from campaigners, the thousands of fans who have blocked the roads for miles getting here haven’t exactly let it slip their minds.

Waters in Palestine

 
Waters in Palestine

When Waters takes to the stage to sing classic tracks from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the songs speak not of individual isolation but racial segregation. The band opened with In the Flesh. During the verse Waters sings “that one in the spotlight he don’t look right to me, get him up against the wall” a giant cheer went up as he followed with the line, “and that one looks Jewish and that ones a coon” confirming that the vast majority of the crowd are young, Jewish Israelis.

Waters in Palestine
 
Waters in Palestine

Next up Waters swaps his bass for an acoustic guitar to strum through Mother, written to tell the story of how the actions of his over-protective mother contributed to his feelings of alienation as a young man.

Interestingly Water’s father worked in Palestine between 1934 and 1938. The night before the concert, Waters met with Palestinian musicians at the Edward Said Consortium of Music in East Jerusalem as part of a tour organised by UK anti-poverty group War on Want. He recalled that his mother would receive letters from his Dad telling of the migration of rich Jews into Palestine and their hostile attitude toward the Arab people.

Waters in Palestine

 
Waters in Palestine

The show is nothing short of what you’d expect from a man associated with some of the biggest and most successful rock concerts in history. The band proceeds to play effortlessly through hits from Wish you were Here, Animals and The Final Cut before taking fifteen minutes to prepare a rendition of Dark Side of the Moon from start to finish. It’s during this performance that the giant video screens serve to treat fans with a truly synaesthetic experience. Heightening the cinematic effect, the sound surrounds the crowd courtesy of small clusters of speakers suspended from giant AVI cranes.

Waters ended up playing in a field in the small Peace Village (Neve Shalom), a project in Arab-Jewish cooperation, after discussions with Palestinian artists like Omar Barghouti, causing him to move from the originally planned venue in Tel Aviv. Some three thousand crew were required to build the venue which housed an estimated fifty thousand fans.

Waters in Palestine

 
Waters in Palestine

It was not until the encore that Waters decided to speak out directly, saying “I believe we need this generation of Israelis to tear down the walls and make peace with their neighbours”, before launching into Pink Floyd mega-hit Another Brick in the Wall. His request from the stage reiterated the graffiti Waters wrote on the wall the previous day when visiting Bethlehem with War on Want. Waters is not the only big name to recently denounce the Israeli administration. Sting, who visited Palestinian refugee camps last month called the occupation “an obscenity”.

Whether this generation of Israelis will listen to the pleas of these stars remains to be seen. Recent polls show that 85% of Israeli Jews support the wall. However, Water’s request seemed well received by the crowd, who showed nothing but admiration and excitement throughout the night. Maybe the most telling song of the night was also the last, as thousands of Israelis unified in singing, I have become comfortably numb. One thing is for sure however, unlike so many other ageing rock legends, Roger still rocks!


All text and pictures above are © 2006 War On Want, and used strictly with permission. For more information on their work, and for the unedited version of this report, go to WarOnWant.org.

 
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