Pressure builds on O2 arena to rethink decision to allow Roger Waters to perform at the venue next week

2 June 2023, 08:44

Religious leaders and politicians have questioned the O2’s decision to platform controversial Pink Floyd Co-founder Roger Waters.
Religious leaders and politicians have questioned the O2’s decision to platform controversial Pink Floyd Co-founder Roger Waters. Picture: Alamy
Henry Riley

By Henry Riley

Pressure is building on the O2 arena to act over a controversial musician performing at the prestigious London venue next week.

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Religious leaders and politicians have questioned the O2’s decision to platform controversial Pink Floyd Co-founder Roger Waters.

Mr Waters, 79, is currently being investigated by German Police over his actions at a Berlin Concert last week.

He wore what has been described as an “SS style” outfit, with a red armband. This led to hundreds of protesters turning out at a subsequent concert in Frankfurt.

Gideon Falter, the Chief Executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, told LBC: "He has made a point in years past of flying a pig-shaped inflatable bloom with the Star of David on it over his concerts, he's somebody who is constantly comparing Israeli's, Nazi's and the lie.

"He seems to go out of his way to say things which are basically baiting the Jewish community, and constantly goading us. It's really troubling to see somebody like that, who uses his platform for these purposes to get red-carpet treatment."

Today LBC can reveal that three London Rabbis have called on the O2 to rethink its invitation to Mr Waters to perform on the 6th, 7th & 8th of June.

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Roger Waters on his tour
Roger Waters on his tour. Picture: Alamy

Rabbi Schochet from the Mill Hill synagogue told LBC: "When you have magistrates in Germany trying to cancel his concert, you have to wonder why an earth they O2 are trying to entertain him here in the UK."

He added: "If one Jew somewhere, on the streets of London, gets smacked, cursed at, spat at, on account of Roger Waters performance... then that's on him, that's on the O2 and it's on the UK government."

His concerns were echoed by Rabbi Levi Shapiro, from the Jewish Community Council, who labelled it "very concerning that he will be using some of the most prestigious stages in the UK to perform".

He added that the concert could "have a direct impact on the Jewish community" and that "there are loads of questions to be answered in terms of the O2, and other major facilities who are potentially hosting Roger Waters".

A third Rabbi, who preferred to remain anonymous, said "many Jewish people will feel uncomfortable and even scared at the unpredictable nature of someone like Mr Waters performing", adding that "there will be a strong response from sections of the community".

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LBC can also exclusively reveal that the Mayor of London has intervened. A spokesperson said, “The Mayor’s team have recently met with AEG Europe, the O2 arena venue operator, to express the concerns and issues raised by the Jewish community”. They add that the Mayor “fully understands the significant concerns from within the Jewish community and condemns the use of antisemitism imagery”.

The largest Jewish communal organisation in the UK The Board of Deputies of British Jews told LBC: "Roger Waters has a long history of vile comments relating to the Jewish community. It is very concerning that someone with a history of such comments will shortly be appearing at UK venues."

Indeed politicians have also weighed in. Former Cabinet Minister Lord Pickles, who is now the Prime Minister's adviser on post holocaust issues, told LBC that the musician was "causing fear and loathing with his concerts" and that it was time for Mr Waters to "hang up his leather coat and retire".

In response, the O2 arena has said that the venue "hosts a variety of performers. Any views they express before, during, or after appearing are uniquely their own".

Roger Waters has been approached for comment.