Roger Waters has been for over 50 years one of rock’s great band leaders. After he left Pink Floyd in the late 70s he had a handful of solo albums, in the 80s popular to varying degrees.
It has only been the last couple of years he has been in the spotlight again for his outspoken views on current affairs of the world. The name of the tour Us and Them is a song from ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ but it is also connects on many levels to the current state of the world.
The concert opened up with the opening track from ‘The Dark Side of the Moon,’ Breathe. Immediately I was transported back to my adolescent bedroom, sitting on my bed, headphones on, totally immersed in the transformative ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ album.
The band morphed into playing One of These Days from Meddle. It was Waters’ throbbing bass lines that were a straight shot to the heart; they then skipped back to ‘Dark Side’ for the classic Time. The accompanying visuals on stage were floating clocks. It was hard not to get caught up in the visuals and to concentrate on the music.
When the opening to Great Gig in the Sky started I was interested to hear how his young back up singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Lessig would interpret the classic song. If anything they made the song even more interesting because there were two singers tonight as opposed to the one on the original song. They both brought the house down with the classic glass-shattering wail.
Welcome to the Machine was a rousing call to arms. Throughout the song Waters was storming the stage getting everyone out of their seats and yelling the chorus. The theme to the song is all about Pink Floyd’s disgust with the music industry amongst other things, ie The Machine, but in today’s current age it could also mean not getting sucked into the world of social media, machines being computers; depends how you look at it.
The next three songs were from Waters’ latest album ‘Is this the Life we Really Want?’ It was the third song Picture That that stood out for me. It is one of the angriest political songs I have heard in years, with the verse “Picture a leader, with no fucking brains.” It’s pretty easy to imagine who he is talking about.
The band then slowed down for the classic Wish You Were Here. The band could have played along without singing a note and let the crowd sing the entire song, that is how much this song is loved.
The opening notes to Another Brick in the Wall part 2 got an immediate reaction from the crowd. A group of young children were led onto stage dressed in all black with bags over their heads representing that they were prisoners. About halfway through the song the bags were removed and the children gave an incredibly gutsy rendition of the verses and the iconic chorus, “All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.” This would be a once in a lifetime experience the children wouldn’t have forgotten any time soon.
This was the end of the first set, so a dash to the bar for beer was needed.
As I came back to my seat I could hear the sound of screams and gunshots going off in the distance; it took me a minute or so to figure out it was all part of the show.
As everyone was seated all of a sudden a giant wall appeared out of nowhere and was dividing the crowd. This was the Battersea Power Station from ‘Animals,’ but it could have also been something to represent the wall that Trump said he was going to build on the Mexican border to keep the immigrants out.
As the song Dogs started a giant pig was floating around the crowd with Trump’s face on it. On the side there was a slogan that read, “Enter tax $$$ here,” with a sign pointing to the pig’s arse.
The lead song for the tour, Us and Them was incredibly powerful and fragile at the same time. While the song was playing there was footage of different protests from around the world, with some of the protesters holding signs that read “Love is all you need,” then it changed to footage of police battering the protesters. The song is just as powerful now as it was then, if not more so now.
It was the end of the show when the visuals really took it to another level of immersion. During the song Eclipse a giant laser prism appeared in the middle of the crowd just like the cover of ‘The Dark Side of the Moon,’ then a series of lasers shot out from different directions. I had trouble finding my jaw that had dropped onto the darkened floor.
Waters left the best to last. Comfortably Numb has always been a fan favourite because of Dave Kilminster‘s searing guitar solo. Waters’ current touring guitarist Jonathan Wilson handled the solo like he had been playing it since birth.
The visuals this time were giant hands being chased by small children from all over the world, and as the visuals progressed the hands broke up into tiny pieces. That’s when a storm of paper dropped from the ceiling and covered the crowd below.
Waters has been a consummate musician and performer for half a century, and to put on such a musically progressive show after all this time is a true testament to his love of performing and his ongoing willingness to make the world a better place through song.
GET TICKETS FOR ROGER WATERS’ REMAINING SHOWS HERE!
PHOTOS BY JOHN RAPTIS