The Rolling Stones Show Roger Waters Called A ‘Joke’

We all know Pink Floyd for their passion for charity work. It’s mostly David Gilmour who comes to the forefront with his willingness to sacrifice his favorite belongings for charity. He didn’t hesitate to sell all his guitars to raise money for the environmentalist charity ClientEarth, advised all Live 8 artists to make donations to charities following the highly-successful Live 8 reunion show, and asked his collaborators to send a cheque to a charity of their choice instead of paying him.

Roger Waters hasn’t fallen behind him throughout the years, though. He went to Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall to commemorate the historical event and wanted to donate all profits of his ‘The Wall – Live In Berlin’ concert to the Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief. However, the sales rights returned to Waters as the charity was wound up. The musician even got together with Gilmour to raise money for Palestinian children despite their long-time feud.

So, it’s safe to say that Pink Floyd’s primary purpose isn’t making music for money. However, Roger Waters believes that many rock music acts favor money rather than enjoying being on stage in front of a vast audience. According to Waters, this category also includes some big names, such as the Rolling Stones. Speaking to Karl Dallas in 1982, the Pink Floyd icon looked back on their 1977 tour and revealed why he wasn’t pleased with playing in large stadiums.

Following the release of 1977’s ‘Animals,’ Pink Floyd hit the road to promote the album. They then embarked on their ‘In The Flesh’ tour and played much of their album throughout the dates. This tour was very important to them: It was Pink Floyd’s first experience playing in large stadiums. However, it caused unease rather than being pleasant. Waters was so irritated during the shows that he spat at the noisy fans in the front row at the Montreal Olympic Stadium.

“That is something that I found depressing in rock ‘n’ roll, and that’s what I found depressing in the tour we did in ’77,” said Roger Waters about Pink Floyd’s ‘In Their Flesh’ tour. “It seemed to me to not be anything about musicians and audiences enjoying being in each other’s company – just one group of people performing and the others listening or watching or whatever – but a series of situations where the response was conditioned and automatic and where all it was about was money, or very, very little else.”

After recalling his discomfort during the ‘In The Flesh’ tour, Roger Waters mentioned Rolling Stones’ 1982 European Tour. He argued that money was clearly a priority for the band, and this bitter truth overshadowed everything, even their performances. According to Roger, money was their central issue, and the media also focused on the money they made rather than the quality of their performance.

“I can say this because I believe it,” Waters asserted. “On a tour like the Stones’ last tour, this worldwide tour that they’ve done, the money is so much more important than anything else that it completely overshadows, as far as I can see, anything else that’s going on. It has become absolutely the central issue in that situation. And the media picks up on it; everybody picks up on it. All the media are interested in is how much money they made, how many T-shirts they sold.”

When asked if the media focuses on the Stones’ profits because their music wasn’t interesting, Roger Waters said, “I don’t know, that may be so. But you know, the Stones’ music has never been very interesting, with a capital I. It’s been f*cking good; it’s been great. When I was a kid, they were great! I was an incredible Stones fan. I still am. I still think some of the stuff that they do is really good. I just think their shows are a joke; all those f*cking people crammed into those big stadiums are just as much of a joke for them as they were for us.”

Dallas then asked Waters whether he believed Pink Floyd’s later shows were better. “Yeah,” he said. “Well, it’s only The Wall. That’s all we’ve done since then. We did those, I thought, under much more controlled conditions, like 15 thousand people instead of 80 thousand people. All that makes a hell of a difference. You can cater to 15 thousand people with the technology that’s available now. If you take it seriously enough and get the right people in to help and spend enough of their money on it because it’s the punters’ money, for God’s sake.”

He continued, “So, if you spend enough of it on sound systems and on what you do, then you can at least take care of the technical aspects of the thing and provide a decent return for whatever it is that they have to pay, and still do some­thing that you find interesting yourself. I thought The Wall shows were. I know they were very expensive, they were eight quid or something, the tickets were, but that’s how much they cost. That’s what it cost. You could make out a case for saying well, people would rather have paid two quid and not have any of that show, well, that may be true, but that was what I was interested in doing. It was a gamble.”

So, the ‘In The Flesh’ tour left a bad taste in Roger Waters’ mouth because he didn’t feel connected to the audience during the stadium shows. It seems he’s not a fan of performing in stadiums, as he believes the audience’s response is conditioned and automatic, and the media only focuses on the shows’ profits. According to Waters, the Rolling Stones’ tours weren’t different. Although he admitted being a Stones fan, the musician claimed their shows are a joke.