'The fascist demagogue has been a feature of my shows'

Roger Waters resumes Nazi act in London that he’d dropped following Germany uproar

Senior UK politicians slam Pink Floyd bassist, who is under a criminal investigation for wearing a costume resembling a Waffen-SS uniform in Berlin

Roger Waters on stage in Berlin, May 2023 (Twitter screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the copyright law)
Roger Waters on stage in Berlin, May 2023 (Twitter screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the copyright law)

Roger Waters resumed his fascist dictator act during concerts this week in London, after briefly dropping the stunt over allegations it was connected to his record of making statements and gestures deemed antisemitic.

Waters wore the leather outfit and red armband, which is meant to resemble a Nazi or Waffen-SS uniform, at concerts Tuesday and Wednesday night in the O2 Arena in northern London, ITV reported.

Last week, Waters dropped the fascist act, which has long been a feature of the former Pink Floyd bassist’s shows, from a show in Birmingham. The change followed a controversy around the costume’s appearance in shows in Germany, where displaying Nazi imagery is illegal.

Following complaints, police in Germany said they were investigating whether Waters had broken the law.

“The elements of my performance that have been questioned are quite clearly a statement in opposition to fascism, injustice, and bigotry in all its forms,” Waters wrote in a statement about the uproar. “The depiction of an unhinged fascist demagogue has been a feature of my shows since Pink Floyd’s The Wall in 1980.”

Michael Gove, a UK government secretary of state, said in a statement that Waters was “reportedly falling short” of meeting an expectation that people with a significant public profile “behave responsibly and not abuse their platform.”

UK Labour leader Keri Starmer said the party “stands with the Jewish community and fully condemns Roger Waters.”

“Many people will think of Roger Waters as famous for being a member of one of the most important bands in history, but he is now more synonymous with spreading deeply troubling antisemitism, and that is why I believe this show should not be allowed to go ahead,” Starmer said.

Protesters holding Israeli flags have been demonstrating outside venues that hosted Waters, including the O2 arena.

A woman holds a sign as she takes part in a protest against a Roger Waters concert later in the day in the Festhalle, Frankfurt, Germany, May 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The US State Department said Tuesday that Waters has “a long track record of using antisemitic tropes” and a concert he gave late last month in Germany “contained imagery that is deeply offensive to Jewish people and minimized the Holocaust.”

In 2013, Waters in an interview said about the United States: “The Jewish lobby is extraordinarily powerful here and particularly in the industry that I work in, the music industry and in rock’n roll.”

He has often equated Israel to Nazi Germany and has called Israel an apartheid state, berating performers who included the Jewish state in their tours. He played at the Jewish-Arab cooperative village Neve Shalom in 2006.

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