When Roger Waters last played Louisville, the mood was darkly nostalgic. His mission wasn’t to promote new music or even a career retrospective, but a single album. The June 2012 concert was devoted exclusively to an interpretation of “The Wall,” the 1979 album that became a worldwide hit for the pioneering British band he co-founded, Pink Floyd.
“The Wall” doesn’t necessarily define Pink Floyd’s overall sound, but it definitely encapsulates how completely Waters’ vision had engulfed the group in its later years. A treatise on personal and, at times, political isolation, it is perhaps better viewed, in historical terms, as Waters’ solo record as opposed to a Pink Floyd work — hence its resurrection as a highly theatrical performance piece for the composer to tour with on his own.
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Waters, 73, is essentially flipping his game plan for a return visit to KFC Yum Center on Sunday. His 2012 show was constructed around music his audiences essentially knew by heart, but his current “Us and Them Tour” has a new record to showcase, even though it won’t even be out in time for the Louisville show.
Not only that, but the Yum Center outing will be only the second date of a tour that will criss-cross North America through late October. It was scheduled to open Thursday night in Kansas City, so at the time of this writing, we know little about the tour’s overall design.
From total familiarity to comparative newness — that’s the shift “Us and Them” will be taking from then and now.
But we aren’t totally in the dark. The new Waters album, “Is This the Life We Really Want?” (his first collection of new rock songs since 1992’s “Amused to Death”) won’t be released until June 2, but the composer has outlined on his website the repertoire that his current shows will be drawn from.
“Probably 75 percent of it will be old material and 25 percent will be new, but it will be all connected by a general theme.”
More specifically, the website post states that Waters will perform songs from “The Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here,’ “Animals” and “The Wall” — the four albums cut between 1973 and 1979 that cemented Pink Floyd’s international stardom and Waters as its primary compositional voice.
As for the newer music, Waters has let a few songs of “Is This the Life You Really Want?” loose online: the rockish “Smell the Roses” (reminiscent of “Wish You Were Here”-era Pink Floyd), the more reflective and somber “The Last Refugee” (more in line with bleaker fare from Waters’ 1987 album “Radio K.A.O.S.”) and the elegiac “Déjà Vu,” which he performed with his touring band and a string section earlier this month on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
“Maybe we should start looking at happiness indexes rather than if we can win or lose,” Waters told Rolling Stone magazine recently in regard to tying his new album’s topical themes into the orbit of his older songs for the “Us and Them Tour.”
“If we do that, then we may start to understand that the idea of ‘us’ and ‘them’ is actually an illusion.”
The annual Blues Between the Bridges festival is back for its eighth Memorial Day weekend outing May 28 at Proud Mary BBQ, 9079 Old Richmond Road.
Headlining this year’s lineup will be Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames. Bandleader and guitarist Weld is a Chicago blues veteran and has performed and studied with blues great as J.B. Hutto. He has led his band, Imperial Flames for nearly two decades.
Here’s the full Blues Between the Bridges schedule:
David McLean (1:30 p.m.), Elvis Cocktail (2:30 p.m.), RC and the NightShades (3:30 p.m.), Robbie Bartlett Blues Band (4:45 p.m.), open jam with G. Busy (6 p.m.), Johnny Rawls (8 p.m.), Tee Dee Young (9:30 p.m.), Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames (11 p.m.).
Admission is $20 at the gate. The event will be held rain or shine. For more info, go to Gbusyblues.com.
The week that was
▪ Darrell Scott at Willie’s Locally Known: Scott opened his first Lexington show in five years by strapping on an electric guitar to test-drive a few licks with a sensibility far jazzier than what we might expect of such a seasoned Americana stylist. What resulted was a summery invitation called “Head South,” the first tune from the first album (1997’s “Aloha From Nashville”) released by the Eastern Kentucky native.
But any seasonal sentiment darkened with the two songs that followed: a stirring and harrowing “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” steeped in sturdy blues and empowered by the startlingly natural guitar play that distinguished the rest of the two hour concert, and a considerably more reflective “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The latter was a dual eulogy for Texas songsmith and longtime friend Guy Clark, who died a year ago, and Chris Cornell, with whom Scott shared a recording session, who died last week.
All that came just in the first 20 minutes.
The rest of the evening was devoted to a loose-fitting array of songs with vivid folk and storytelling imagery colored by extended, intricate exhibitions on electric and acoustic guitar that affirmed that Scott remains as potent an instrumentalist as he is a songwriter.
Several of his compositions possessed a gorgeous simplicity, perhaps none more so than the title tune to his 2010 album, “A Crooked Road.” The tune reveled in a wistful lyricism that gently supported the worldly but affirmative feel of the narrative (“I see the straight and narrow when I walk a crooked road”).
From the other side of the road came a ghostly reading of Hank Williams’ “Ramblin’ Man.” Scott’s voice would rise like an incantatory yodel and then fade like the “old train rollin’ down the line” depicted in the song’s opening verse.
Scott turned to fretless banjo for the finale version of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” summoning a light, antique feel that merged the performance’s generations of sounds and styles into a sing-along full of back-porch intimacy.
Read Walter Tunis’ blog, The Musical Box, at LexGo.com