The tribute band the UK Pink Floyd Experience did not perform any songs written by the original band's soloist, Roger Waters, during several concerts in Israel over the weekend, disappointing many fans in attendance.
Waters, a prominent supporter of the anti-Israel boycott, divest and sanctions movement (BDS) called on the band to cancel its performances and said he extracted a promise from the band not to perform any of his songs.
“To sing my songs in front of segregated audiences in Israel, and contribute to the cultural whitewashing of the racist and apartheid government of that country, would be an act of unconscionable malice and disrespect. The people you intend to entertain are executing their neighbor’s children, shooting them down in cold blood every day,” Waters said in December.
Despite Waters' call for a boycott, the band showed up for its concerts on Friday in Be’er Sheva and Saturday in Tel Aviv, but made good on the promise to Waters not to perform his songs.
“The Israeli band [Echoes, a local Pink Floyd tribute band] sang all the famous and beloved songs, the Brits sang only a few songs from the Pink Floyd albums from after they broke up and Waters left,” someone posted on Facebook after attending the Tel Aviv performance. “It would have been fair if they had given us, the audience, a chance to decide if we wanted to see such a performance,” she added.
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A man who attended the Be’er Sheva concert voiced similar complaints. “At first I didn’t understand why the English band was playing old things like ‘Arnold Layne,’ or songs from ‘Division Bell,’ while the Israeli band was playing the whole ‘Dark Side of the Moon, ’cuts from ‘Wish You Were Here,’ and ‘The Wall.’ It took me time to understand that Waters vehemently objected to the band from England playing any of the songs which he was involved in writing or composing.”
On December 24, Ziv Rubinstein of EGOeast Productions, which brought the U.K. band to Israel, was asked on his Facebook page if the cover band was also going to play Waters’ songs and he answered that they would “play everything.”
EGOeast Productions said in response, “We can imagine that Roger Waters continued to pressure the band while they were in Israel not to sing any of his songs, but the band still decided to appear and organized the performance in a way that allowed the concert to still take place. The participation of Echoes was mentioned in all the advertisements and in more than 10 media interviews by production company staffers."
At first the pressure exerted by Waters on the cover band seemed to succeed, and in early December the UK Pink Floyd Experience announced it was canceling its concerts in Israel. But only a short while later, following lobbying efforts by EGOeast, the band put Israel back on its touring schedule.
“I’m sorry you buckled, boys,” Waters wrote in response. To concert promoter Ziv Rubinstein, that put "Waters’ defeat at the forefront of the news around the world."
"It was not for nothing that thousands of people gave the artists a lengthy ovation at the end of yesterday’s performance," he said.