A special message from Roger Waters during the intro of his THIS IS NOT A DRILL tour opener:
Review of opening night from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Roger Waters drives home themes of war, poverty and injustice in Pittsburgh tour opener
Pittsburgh Post-GazetteThis is Not a Drill
So many questions going into the opening night of the This is Not a Drill Tour:
How many solo songs would Roger Waters sneak into the set of classic Pink Floyd? Would this prickly and passionate artist, after a two-year pandemic tour delay, show any further signs of wear and tear at 78? Would the “in the round” production rise to the level of grand spectacle of The Wall and The Us + Them Tours? Would the band kill it right out of the gate? And, perhaps most importantly, who would Roger offend this time? The latter is emphasized because the show preview I posted last week generated a stream of Roger hate on social media for his outspoken stances against Trump and Israel’s Palestinian policies, which adds up to a combined contingency of, oh, more than half the population. “He’s a communist!” “He’s an anti-Semite!” That’s enough negative energy to power a small town.
Fittingly, his first show since closing Us + Them in December 2018 in Monterrey, Mexico, began at 8:20 Wednesday night at PPG Paints Arena with an announcement noting, in part, “if you’re one of those ‘I hate Roger’s politics people’ you might do well to f— off to the bar right now.” The music then kicked off in bold fashion, underplaying a Floyd classic often reserved for the encore. Waters, unseen, launched “Comfortably Numb,” greeting the crowd with the ominous “Hello. Is there anybody in there?” amid claps of thunder. The heavy talk-sing carried on, and on, like a Gregorian chant through the entire song, accompanied by a sickly green video of people queued up in stillness on the long screen above the stage. The drone was broken by a female voice coming in with a shrill howl. The famous solo? Skipped! Waters, in all black with hair and beard trimmed, then jumped on stage for “The Happiest Days of Our Lives” and “Another Brick in the Wall, Parts 2 and 3,” played the way they were on “The Wall.” Through the show, he would switch sides, back and forth, on the long rectangular stage lined with red lights.
The middle of set 1 was an early offering of what people often joke about being bathroom breaks: those post-heyday songs that got little or no radio play. They were compelling though. From “Radio K.A.O.S.” came “The Powers That Be,” played as a lament about the inequities under the corporate capitalist system. On the screen were the names of Black people killed by police, including Antwon Rose II, who was shot in East Pittsburgh in 2018. (The mention inaccurately noted that he was driving in a taxi.) “The Bravery of Being Out of Range,” a rarity from the Gulf War era of 1992 that was a barking condemnation of politicians unleashing bombs and missiles that kill from a distance, began with a video of Ronald Reagan, branding him as a “WAR CRIMINAL” for his actions in Guatemala. It went on to put the same stamp, in bloody red, on the Bushes, Clinton, Obama and Trump. Nonpartisan, at least, right? For Biden, it declared, “WAR CRIMINAL,” underlined with “Just getting started...” Brand new was “The Bar,” an unreleased song written during the pandemic performed as a spare working-class ballad with Waters at piano. He joked that he would probably mess it up, but he pulled it off. The latter part of the first set had him flipping the treasured 1975 “Wish You Were Here” over for the full side two. Of course, that’s three songs: the jagged “Have a Cigar,” the sweeping title track and the reprise of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX).” On the screen for “Wish You Were Here” scrolled a story about him and Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett, ending with “When you lose someone, it serves as a reminder: This is not a drill.” Waters loves his “Animals.” Last time, he ventured into that 1977 homage to Orwell with “Dogs” and “Pigs,” on which he unfurled the infamous “TRUMP IS A PIG” banner. This time, he opted for “Sheep,” a word that was weaponized quite a lot during the pandemic, as “sheeple.” The song, depicting the sheep rising up to crush the dogs, came with a screenful of floating sheep and then a flurry of tweets about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
During intermission we were entertained by the flying pig, emblazoned with “F— the Poor” on one side and “Steal from the Poor. Give to the Rich” on the other. It was adorned, as well, with such defense contractor logos as Raytheon and Elbit Systems. Jumping into set two, we were back to “The Wall,” with Waters in full-length leather coat and shades, for the aggressive combo of “In the Flesh” and “Run Like Hell.” He ended “In the Flesh” by firing at the crowd with a semi-automatic rifle. A fake one. By that point, we had been through that album, “Wish You Were Here” and “Animals” with nary a glimpse of “Dark Side.” The wait would continue through a few more solo songs: soaring power ballad “Déjà Vu,” beginning with a nod to Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning and rolling with messages for reproductive, trans and Palestinian rights that brought cheers from the crowd; and the mournful title track of “Is This the Life We Really Want?,” which blames all of us for the apathy that allows for so much global suffering. He emphasized the ending, “We all stood by silent and indifferent. It’s normal.”
Sixteen songs in, we got the familiar cha-ching of “Money,” along with the first lead vocal from Jonathan Wilson, who, let’s say, lacked the grit of the song’s original singer. It introduced side two of “Dark Side,” the dreamiest, most ethereal segment of the evening. “Us and Them” and “Any Colour You Like” were a contrast of melodic beauty with stabbing guitars and war-torn imagery. Waters delivered one of his most tender vocals on “Brain Damage,” before eight green pyramid lasers wrapped the Jumbotron while backup singers Shanay Johnson and Amanda Belair helped bring “Eclipse” to a gorgeous climax. For all of that, he thanked the crew and said, “Thank you, Pittsburgh, from the bottom of our hearts. We came here with a lot of love in our hearts and found a lot of love from your hearts.” Emerging from that was “Two Suns in the Sunset,” his Pink Floyd sign-off from “The Final Cut,” a tranwquil ballad about nuclear annihilation and the doomsday clock, querying, “Could be the human race is run?” After apologizing to Bob Dylan for borrowing an idea from “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,” he wrapped the show with a quiet reprise of “The Bar” that sounded like the bard, blending into “Outside the Wall.”
On this rainy July night, classic rock connoisseurs had a choice between this or the Santana/Earth, Wind & Fire show at Star Lake (at least until that was postponed due to Santana’s heat exhaustion). This was by no means the fun choice. It was, however, the more challenging one as Waters relentlessly drove home powerful themes about the human condition — from the disparity between “us” and “them” to the loss of rights to the threat of apocalypse. It was, he said, in a recent statement, his “shout from the rooftop.” It may have lacked the fiery urgency of the Trump-era tour and the jaw-dropping spectacle of the “Animals” factory filling the arena, but it came through loud, clear and inspirational.
Roger Waters Setlist
The Happiest Days of Our Lives
Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2
Another Brick in the Wall, Part 3
The Powers That Be
The Bravery of Being Out of Range
Have a Cigar
Wish You Were Here
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)
In the Flesh
Run Like Hell
Is This the Life We Really Want?
Us and Them
Any Colour You Like
Two Suns in the Sunset
The Bar (Reprise)
Outside the Wall
And a clip of Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX) with great view of stage, screens, and the band which sound like a well oiled machine already:_____________________________________________________________Rip this joint, gonna save your soul, round and round and round we go......
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2022-07-07 13:33 by Hairball.