‘There is a finality to all of this’

PINK Floyd founding member and creative lynchpin Roger Waters is already more than 70 dates into his Us + Them world tour, and if he’s experiencing any fatigue he surely isn’t showing it on stage.

As the houselights at Brisbane Entertainment Centre fade, the sound of seagulls echoes through the venue as a video of a solitary figure sitting on a beach with her back to us projects on to the giant screen behind the stage.

While the stadium fills, eerie vocal chants and bird squawks are replaced by the unmistakable soundscape from Speak to Me, and as the “I’ve been mad for f—ing years” sample plays over the speakers, Waters – dressed in his ubiquitous black T-shirt and black jeans – and his band take to stage and launch straight into Breathe, with vocal duties adeptly handled by guitarist Jonathan Wilson, the “resident hippie in the band”.

As a giant animated sphere traverses cityscapes on the screen behind, Breathe seamlessly transitions into One of These Days and Time, which includes a reprise of Breathe. To describe vocalists Jessica Wolfe and Holly Laessig – from indie-pop band Lucius – as backing singers does them a great disservice, with the platinum-wigged duo’s soaring vocal harmonies on the otherwise-instrumental The Great Gig in the Sky giving the song a superior edge to its studio counterpart.

During the throbbing bass Welcome to the Machine, a spotlight follows Waters as he struts back and forth across the front of the stage, clearly revelling in the rapturous response from the crowd. As the seven-minute opus draws to a close, the stage darkens, and as a pulsing beat fills the arena, Waters swaps his Fender four-string for an acoustic guitar and takes to the mic for an emotionally wrought rendition of Déjà Vu, the opening from last year’s Is This the Life We Really Want?

After a near-album-perfect replication of The Last Refugee – which features suitably restrained drumming from Joey Waronker and is accompanied by its poignant music video – and the acerbic, expletive-laden Picture That, the band launch into the title track from Wish You Were Here, which garners a predictably rousing response. Although his former Pink Floyd bandmate David Gilmour sang the track on the album, Waters wrote the track, and he handles the vocals – in the same key as the studio version – with aplomb, and adds extra emotional resonance in the process.

As the sounds of choppers fill the venue and a simulated searchlight sweeps the crowd, the darkened stage again lights up to reveal a row of hooded figures in orange jumpsuits. They stand motionless, with heads bowed, as Rogers and his band tear through The Happiest Days of Our Lives, and as the “we don’t need no education” refrain from Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 begins, the figures remove their masks and begin marching on the spot and singing the chorus.

The figures turn out to be students from Ipswich West Special School, and as the song and progresses, they remove their jumpsuits to expose black T-shirts emblazoned with the word “RESIST”. Waters is full of praise for the students’ efforts, and as Another Brick in the Wall Part 3 draws to a close, so does the first half of the show.

After the intermission, many are likely questioning how Waters will top the spectacle they have just witnessed, but as giant screens unfurl from the roof above the main seating area to reveal a rendering of the Battersea Power Station, which adorns the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals, any doubts are quickly put to rest.

The Orwellian themes of that album seem even more relevant today than they were when the album was released, and as a stunning visual display adorns the screens to accompany Dogs, it’s difficult to know where to look. But as Pigs (Three Different Ones) kicks off, everyone’s eyes are trained to the screens, which are emblazoned with anthropomorphic sheep, dogs and pigs and interspersed with Donald Trump’s own quotes and tweets and digitally altered images of the US President that run the gamut from sardonic and comical to graphic and unsettling.

Money is repurposed as another attack on Trump, before a heart-rending Us and Them lulls the audience into near-silence. Recent track Smell the Roses and Floyd classic Brain Damage both get an airing, and as the set draws closer to its conclusion, Waters, who has let the music do the talking for most of the evening, seems overcome with emotion.

“I can’t hear anything that you’re saying but it feels positive, so come on let’s hear it,” Waters tells the crowd, extending his arms skyward and lapping up the resultant applause.

Waters introduces his band – which also comprises guitarist and bassist Gus Seyffert, multi-instrumentalists Jon Carin and Dave Kilminster, saxophonist Ian Ritchie and keyboardist Drew Erickson – before telling us “there’s a big message in this show and it’s that love has the transcendental ability to affect everything in our lives, even romantic love can change our lives”.

“I was looking at the schedule and thinking this may be the last time I ever come through Australia … I won’t get this chance, probably to talk to people in Brisbane again for the rest of my life; one has to remember there is a finality to all of this,” 74-year-old Waters tells the crowd before finishing with Mother and a rousing Comfortably Numb.

And as ribbons of confetti slowly spiral through the smoke and lights of the laser pyramid and the crowd rises to give a standing ovation, there’s an overwhelming sense of unity, and suddenly it doesn’t feel like there’s an “us and them”, only an “us”.

Last year, Waters told Marc Maron on his WTF podcast that his “major contribution to rock ’n ’ roll … was really to develop the theatre of arena rock” and last night’s show proved, 40 years later, that his ability to meld theatricality with musical prowess in live performances remains unrivalled.

Roger Waters performs at Brisbane Entertainment Centre again tonight, with tickets still available at the box office.

How James Stewart got ‘action hero’ body

BRISBANE’S Home and Away star James Stewarthas shed half his body fat to keep up with his younger, fitter Summer Bay co-stars.

Stewart, 42, undertook an eight-week program for Men’s Health.

“You’ve got 22-year-olds and 25-year-olds running up and down the beach, and they’d burn off a late-night burger by the time they wake up,” Stewart told the March issue of Men’s Health, on sale today.

“I wasn’t feeling overweight, but I didn’t feel in shape. I’ve got a couple of mates at home in the same boat: with T-shirts on they’ve still got broad shoulders and can lift decent weights, but it’s all a bit wobbly. There are a couple of pizzas on either side of the midsection.”

Stewart completed four to five workouts a week for two months over the festive season, often turning up to the gym at night after 14 hours on the set of Home and Away.

He cut his body fat from 16.8 to 7.2 per cent, dropped 4.7kg and 4cm around his waist, and added 4.5kg of muscle. But getting an “action hero” body isn’t easy: “There are times when you feel your eyes wobbling in their sockets and you can feel your lunch coming up in your throat, and your usual reaction is just to stop,” Stewart said.

He has recently taken his relationship with co-star Sarah Roberts public.

He has a five-year-old daughter, Scout, with Packed to the Rafters actor Jessica Marais.

Perfect match too good to be true

BRISBANE bride Ashley Irvin had a promising match on Married at First Sight but hinted that the picture-perfect first impression may prove to be too good to be true.

The 28-year-old flight attendant tied the knot with 35-year-old IT accounts manager Troy Delmege in a lavish Gold Coast ceremony on last night’s episode of the Channel 9 reality show.

After Delmege expressed his desire for a cheerleader, Barbie type, the couple appeared to hit it off immediately during a laughter-filled ceremony. But Irvin’s sisters, Charlie and Summer, became concerned that Delmege wasn’t genuine.

Speaking to Confidential, Irvin admitted she hadn’t been nervous about the wedding airing but was unsure about seeing the rest of the season play out.

“The honeymoon is going to be interesting,” she said. “The wedding is just face value – you don’t actually really get to know your husband.

“Half the wedding I did spend a lot of time with his family and friends trying to make a good impression, and he spent a lot of time with my family and friends.”

While she remained tight-lipped about whether the couple stayed together, she did reveal: “Our (journey) wasn’t always smooth sailing, but we were each other’s partners.”

However, the former tennis prodigy said she was “pleasantly surprised” when she saw Delmege waiting for her at the altar.

“When I pulled up and then my dad walked me down (to the chapel), I was like, ‘Oh my god, what am I doing?’ ” she said.

“But I definitely went in with an open mind. I didn’t want to expect too much because I didn’t want to be disappointed or saddened on my wedding day, so (when I saw him) I was like, ‘Oh, OK, nice’.”

Irvin even described the day as her “dream wedding”.

“It was amazing and I loved it,” she said.

Catch some Rays

It’s been almost 10 years since guitarist and singer Shane Parsons joined forces with drummer Simon Ridley to form DZ Deathrays, a scuzzy dance-punk band they ­started with the humble aim of playing at mates’ house parties in Brisbane. The pair ­quickly exceeded those modest ambitions, with their first two EPs – Ruined My Life and Brutal Tapes – earning critical praise and Triple J airplay on the back of songs such as The Mess Up, Blue Blood and Teeth.

The band quickly became regulars on the festival circuit, playing Big Day Out, Parklife and Sunset Sounds before they’d released their debut album, Bloodstreams, in 2012. Much to their surprise, that ­release went on to win the ARIA for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal album, beating off more established acts such as Frenzal Rhomb. Their 2014 foll­ow-up, Black Rat, scored the band ­another ARIA Award and spawned the ­single Gina Works at Hearts, which made that year’s Triple J Hottest 100.

DZ Deathrays have since released a couple of standalone singles – the chunky, riff-laden Blood on My Leather, with an ­accompanying video starring comedian Arj Barker, as Satan; and melodic rocker Pollyanna, but as Parsons and Ridley tell Qweekend, they’re relieved to finally have their third album, Bloody Lovely, in the can. “We weren’t anticipating four years between ­albums, it just kind of ended up that way,” Parsons says. “We had a hectic touring schedule for the first two years with Black Rat , so it just took that long, unfortunately.”

“Then some really good stuff came about,” Ridley adds. “We did (US music conference) South by Southwest again and then straight into the Groovin the Moo and then the Violent Soho (support) tour. It was a really good year for us in 2016 for touring – we did Europe and then America with (Brisbane band) Dune Rats.”

Parsons and Ridley are originally from Bundaberg, but it wasn’t until the two reconnected in Brisbane that they started playing together. These days, Parsons calls Sydney home, while Ridley still lives in the River City. “We’ve changed the way we’ve written (songs) over the years but maybe for the better,” Parsons says. “We don’t ­always write over email; every couple of months we’ll spend a week at the rehearsal room jamming and coming up with ideas, and we’ll take those home and record them ourselves and get them into demo form.”

A few tracks from the album – Shred for Summer, Bad Influence and Total Meltdown – have been getting steady airplay on ­Triple J ahead of its release. When asked if they have any other particular ­favourites from Bloody Lovely, Parsons names Over It, a song that came out of a co-writing session with Sydney band Polish Club’s singer and guitarist David Novak. “It’s like a really basic break-up song with no substance to it at all, but I quite like that you can write a break-up song if you’re not even breaking up with somebody.”

As well as releasing Bloody Lovely, DZ Deathrays have just played one of the biggest shows of their career, opening for US rockers Foo Fighters at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium. “We could never have imagined playing there when we started the band,” Ridley says.

They’re “working on another album, as we speak”, and Parsons is confident it won’t be as long a wait ­between Bloody Lovely and its follow-up.

DZ Deathrays, The Triffid, Newstead, May 25

New chefs’ one MKR rule

GOLD Coast couple Alex and Emily went into My Kitchen Rules with a strict policy on drama.

The pair, who both work in hospitality, said they weren’t in the Channel 7 reality cooking competition to make friends but they didn’t plan on making enemies either.

Emily, a 27-year-old restaurant supervisor, told The Courier-Mail that with $250,000 on the line they wanted to focus on being a team rather than getting distracted.

“We went in with the mentality that if we have an issue with someone we were always going to say something but if it wasn’t our drama or it was petty drama we weren’t going to get involved,” she said.

Alex, a 35-year-old drinks consultant, said they took a back seat view to most of the controversy. “Some days it was awkward,” he said.

The duo, who relocated from Sydney to Queensland 18 months ago, will be in the first group to cook in the instant restaurants.

The show returns to Channel 7 tonight against Married At First Sight on Channel 9.

Fooeys get the hots for Brisbane

IT WAS warm and muggy in Brisbane last night, but a packed Suncorp Stadium was by far the hottest place in town thanks to one of the world’s biggest rock bands.

Legendary rockers Foo Fighters showed why they’re still one of the best in the business during the Brisbane leg of their worldwide Concrete and Gold Tour.

Led by frontman Dave Grohl, the boys treated the sellout crowd to both new songs from their recent studio album and classics such as Learn to Fly and The Pretender.

Grohl had the crowd rocking and cheering all night, despite the heat.

“It’s getting hot in here tonight,” he said. “It’s only getting hotter.

“It’s going to be a good night.”

And it took just two songs for Grohl to profess his love for the Brisbane crowd, screaming, “I f—ing love you already.”

One lucky fan “Joey” was pulled on stage by Grohl to play Foo Fighters classic Monkey Wrench.

The apparent local, who looked strinkingly like Grohl himself, wowed the 40,000-strong crowd with his expert guitar skills.

Foo Fighters, who have enjoyed a love affair with Australian rock audiences, with marathon shows lasting three hours, last graced our stadiums on their Sonic Highways Tour of early 2015.

This latest tour comes on the back of the band’s ninth studio album, Concrete and Gold, released last September.

The band will be jetting off to Sydney to play at ANZ Stadium tomorrow night.

Top predictions for Triple J Hottest 100

THE date may have changed but the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown is still expected to be a barbecue and party staple on Saturday, January 27.

The shift from Australia Day to the fourth Saturday in January created a fair amount of controversy, but whether you agree with it or not, the result of the ABC radio music poll is expected to retain its cult following and reverberate around the country.

The publicity generated certainly hasn’t stifled voting with this year’s Triple J Hottest 100 being the most popular yet.

“We can reveal that 2,386,133 votes have been cast, which is up 5.81 per cent from last year, making it the biggest Hottest 100 ever on record,” Triple J announced on its website.

Last year 2.2 million votes were received and Never Be Like You (ft Kai) by Flume was number one.

Voting for the Triple Hottest 100 started on December 12.

The countdown will air on Saturday at different times around the country because of daylight saving and the top 200, which includes the next best 100 songs, will air on Sunday.

Some of the artists who have posted their selections on the Triple J website include Peking Duk, Angus & Julia Stone, Meg Mac and Queenslander Amy Shark, who was second last year with Adore, stated she’s a “sucker for anything Lorde” on the official website.

What time does the count start?

The countdown officially starts at noon (AEDT) on Saturday but that means a 9am start in WA, 10.30am in the Northern Territory, 11am in Queensland and 11.30am in South Australia.

Just like the opposing time zones, tuning-in in each capital or regional city will be different too.

What’s the best radio station frequency?

For city slickers, Triple J can be found on the ‘dial’ at 107.7 FM in Brisbane, 107.5FM in Melbourne, 105.5 FM in Sydney, 105.7FM in Adelaide, 99.3FM in Perth, 92.9FM in Hobart 103.3FM in Darwin and 101.5FM in Canberra.

As for regional Queensland, you can listen to the Triple J Hottest 100 on these radio stations:

Gold Coast: 97.7FM, Sunshine Coast 107.7FM or 89.5FM, Hervey Bay 99.3FM, Cairns 107.5FM (Cairns North 93.9FM), Rockhampton 104.7FM, Townsville 105.5FM (Townsville North 97.5FM), Mt Isa 104.1FM and Airlie Beach (Mackay) 99.5FM.

The experts deliver their predictions

The Courier-Mail’s music aficionados, Dan Johnson, Clare Armstrong and Stephanie Bennett list their picks for this year’s Triple J Hottest 100.

Dan Johnson: Music writer

Jeremy Neale: Dancin & Romancin’

WAAX: Wild & Weak

Tired Lion: Fresh

Amy Shark: Weekends

Tiny Little Houses: Garbage Bin

Camp Code: The Opener

Clowns: Dropped My Brain

Alex Lahey: Every Day’s Weekend

Custard: In The Grand Scheme Of Things (None of This Really Matters)

Skeggs: Got On My Skateboard

Stephanie Bennett: QConfidential/Finance reporter

Kendrick Lamar: Humble

Lorde: Homemade Dynamite

PNAU: Go Bang

Gang of Youths: Let Me Down Easy

The Presets: Do What You Want

N.E.R.D & Rihanna: Lemon

Cloud Control: Rainbow City

Touch Sensitive: Lay Down

Calvin Harris (feat. Frank Ocean): Slide

Wafia: Bodies

Clare Armstrong: Journalist, Queensland Music Awards Judge

Childish Gambino: California

Clea: Bright Blue

Jack River: Fool’s Gold

Lorde: Liability

Mallrat: Better

Methyl Ethel: Ubu

Tired Lion: Cinderella Dracula

The Belligerents: Science Fiction

SZA: Drew Barrymore