IN April 1997 Tony Blair, starring in the final Scottish rally of Labour's election campaign, stood on the stage of Edinburgh's Usher Hall and spoke briefly of some of his heroes.

The Prime Minister-in-waiting took delight at being on the same stage that had once witnessed such great rock groups as Deep Purple, T-Rex ... and Pink Floyd.

Floyd had indeed played the Usher Hall, for two nights at the start of November 1974. In March 1973 they had released The Dark Side of the Moon, an enormously successful and influential album that has since sold an estimated 45 million copies, and which propelled Floyd into the major leagues.

"After the success of The Dark Side of the Moon", writes Floyd drummer Nick Mason in his book, Inside Out, "we were brought back down to earth when we had to start tackling yet another album.

The Herald: Pink Floyd in 1972: from left to right, Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Dave Gilmour and Richard WrightPink Floyd in 1972: from left to right, Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Dave Gilmour and Richard Wright (Image: PA Wire)

"On this occasion, Dark Side actually added to the burden, since we were particularly anxious to avoid accusations of cashing in on the album's success by simply replicating it".

Inspiration was difficult to come by, however, and the band - Mason, Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Rick Wright - spent much of 1974 "delaying the evil moment of making a record".

That November they embarked on a major British tour (their first in two years), beginning at the Usher Hall.

"This was a gloomy period for the band - although the audiences were hopefully unaware of this", Mason continues. "The weather didn't help: a wintry rain and low clouds accompanied us from Edinburgh to Cardiff". Other difficulties combined to make the tour a largely forgettable experience.

The Concert Archives website lists the songs Floyd played on their second night at the Usher Hall - most of them from The Dark Side of the Moon.

Concert Archives

Pink Floyd had toured frequently in their earlier years. In 1967 they played around 200 concerts, a few of which were memorable.

"Our Scottish tour of 1967 was fairly typical", writes Mason. "It consisted of only five shows, the first two of which were at Elgin and Nairn up in the north of Scotland, where our Sassenach invasion was swiftly repelled. In the Moray, Nairn and Banff Courant we achieved equal billing with a local fruitcake contest, and a typical critique of our work by the audience was 'Do ye ken I could sing better in my wee bath?'"

The band also played an "unforgettable" show at the Isle of Man during Scots Fortnight. Much drink had been taken by audience members. Floyd began to play and dimmed the lights. The audience fell silent; the band was rapidly disabused of any notion that its sound and light show was the reason. An eerie rumbling noise was then heard. The darkness, Mason writes, "had given them the opportuntity to fall on each other in a raging fury.

"Belatedly following the promoter's advice, we fulfilled our contract by providing a psychedelic musical accompaniment to the sound of the holiday Scots knocking merry hell out of each other".

That December, the band arrived at Green's Playhouse (later known as the Apollo) as part of a package tour that also included Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Move and the Nice. (In 1994 the Evening Times interviewed a Glasgow man, an ardent collector, who had a rare and valuable poster for that particular show).

Pink Floyd's stormy trip to Dark Side of Dunoon

The band's Scottish engagements in 1968 included a high-profile concert in Dunoon.

In 1972 the Edinburgh Festival of 1972 was the setting for a screening of their in-concert film, Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii.

Pink Floyd have long since gone their own ways. The two main creative mainstays - Roger Waters and David Gilmour - are no longer talking to each other, something that stems from a decades-old feud. Waters left the band in 1985 after years of bitter in-fighting. Gilmour, Mason and Wright carried on under the Pink Floyd name, releasing, over a period of years, three studio albums to commercial and critical acclaim.

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There was a glorious if short-lived reunion in 2005 when the four Floyd musicians played the Live8 charity conference in Hyde Park, at the request of Bob Geldof. But there never was any chance of a full-scale reunion.

The Herald: From left to right - Dave Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright - at the Live 8 Concert in Hyde Park, 2005From left to right - Dave Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright - at the Live 8 Concert in Hyde Park, 2005 (Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

This February Gilmour’s wife, the author Polly Samson, shared a tweet in which she accused Waters of being “antisemitic to [his] rotten core”. She continued: “Also a Putin apologist and a lying, thieving, hypocritical, tax-avoiding, lip-synching, misogynistic, sick-with-envy, megalomaniac. Enough of your nonsense.”

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Gilmour re-shared Samson’s tweet, adding that “every word [is] demonstrably true”.

Waters himself issued a statement in which he described Samson’s comments “incendiary and wildly inaccurate” and said he “refutes [them] entirely”. He added that he was currently “taking advice as to his position” regarding the claims.

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Now 79, Waters is still on the road, and this Friday and Saturday he brings his first Farewell Tour, the politically-charged “This Is Not A Drill”, to the OVO Hydro in Glasgow.

Waters's last visit to the Hydro, during his "Us and Them" tour, in June 2018, was a visually mesmerising show - one of the finest ever seen at the venue. It featured many Pink Floyd classics as well as songs from Waters's distinguished solo career, to say nothing of jaw-dropping special effects, including a flying pig (a familar Pink Floyd symbol) and a stunning mock-up of Battersea Power Station.

Controversy surrounds the new tour, however.

Police in Germany launched a criminal investigation into Waters over a Nazi-style uniform he wore at a recent concert in Berlin. “An investigation has been opened over the costume displayed at the concerts on 17 and 18 May,” said Berlin police.

The investigation centres on the costume Waters wore as he performed a 1979 Pink Floyd song “In the Flesh,” from their album The Wall, in which a rock star imagines himself as a fascist dictator. 

Then several Jewish groups, politicians and a clutch of civil society groups attended a memorial ceremony and a protest rally against a concert by Waters in Frankfurt last Sunday evening. They accuse the Waters of antisemitism – an allegation he categorically denies.

The Herald: Waters announces his participation in a 'Free [Julian] Assange' rally scheduled for London in 2020Waters announces his participation in a 'Free [Julian] Assange' rally scheduled for London in 2020 (Image: Victoria Jones/PA Wire)

Waters has been an outspoken supporter of B.D.S., the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which urges foreign governments, businesses and performers to cut ties with Israel until it ends its occupation of the territories it captured in 1967.

In a statement posted on Facebook Waters responded to the controversies.

"My recent performance in Berlin has attracted bad faith attacks from those who want to smear and silence me because they disagree with my political views and moral principles.

Floyd founder Wright dies

"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. Attempts to portray those elements as something else are disingenuous and politically motivated. The depiction of an unhinged fascist demagogue has been a feature of my shows since Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” in 1980.

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"I have spent my entire life speaking out against authoritarianism and oppression wherever I see it. When I was a child after the war, the name of Anne Frank was often spoken in our house, she became a permanent reminder of what happens when fascism is left unchecked. My parents fought the Nazis in World War II, with my father paying the ultimate price [Eric Fletcher Waters died at Anzio in 1944 while serving as a second lieutenant with the Royal Fusiliers].

"Regardless of the consequences of the attacks against me, I will continue to condemn injustice and all those who perpetrate it".