Roger Waters Reminds Fans Who ‘Us’ + ‘Them’ Are

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Roger Waters performing “Comfortably Numb” at the Meadowlands Arena, E. Rutherford, NJ, May 22, 2017

It couldn’t have been more obvious who the “Us” and “Them” are that Roger Waters has chosen to call his upcoming North American tour. Waters didn’t speak directly about his disdain for the 45th President of the United States, instead using the on-screen visuals on the giant screens at Sunday night’s (May 22) final dress rehearsal for his massive “Us + Them” tour, which begins May 26.

And with well-known Pink Floyd song titles like “Money” and “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” Waters was able to let the group’s music do the talking. He wrote those songs after all. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

The tour is described as “performing songs from the albums of Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the MoonThe WallAnimals and Wish You Were Here.” While promoting “Us + Them” on his Facebook page last February, Waters had promised fans that the tour’s songs would be “probably 75% old material and 25% will be new, but it will be all connected by a general theme.”

And as the lights dimmed, at the Meadowlands Arena in E. Rutherford, NJ, the spectacular screen backdrop guided the audience through that theme with graphic images and phrases throughout the night. Waters and his superb band began with three songs from Dark Side of the Moon, including show opener “Breathe” and “Time,” interrupted only by an instrumental from Floyd’s Meddle.

The wordless vocals on “The Great Gig in the Sky,” so familiar from Clare Torry’s performance on DSOTM, were more than capably recreated by Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of the indie pop group Lucius. The duo have served as Waters’ female backup singers for a while; their severe expressions and short, blonde wigs add to the no-nonsense atmosphere.

Next came the austere “Welcome to the Machine” and when it was finished Waters finally addressed the audience with an exuberant “Thank you!” and spread his arms wide.

Three songs from Waters’ upcoming album Is This the Life We Really Want?–his first studio effort in roughly 25 years–followed. (The album’s standout track, “Smell the Roses,” was performed after intermission.)

Waters wasn’t quite 30 when he recorded Dark Side of the Moon in 1972 and still just in his mid-30s for 1979’s The Wall. At 73, his voice is fuller on the new album, though it was a bit scratchy from time-to-time at this performance.

The first set ended with an excellent “Wish You Were Here” (with David Gilmour’s familiar guitar solos performed more than capably by Dave Kilminster and Jonathan Wilson).

Related: Gilmour hints at new album

It was followed by an outstanding “Another Brick in the Wall” (Parts 2 and 3) and the evening’s first obvious sign of politics with huge letters spelling “RESIST” on the screen. On cue, seven children (“from Trenton, NJ,” Waters later told us) who had been dancing in unison at the front of the stage, shed their orange jumpsuits to reveal black t-shirts emblazoned with “Resist.” Pink Floyd’s unlikely #1 pop single was the first half’s highlight.

“I won” (Photo: Greg Brodsky

Politics was the second set’s clear topic. With the house lights still on, the speakers filled with sounds of helicopters and then an air raid alarm. The lights dimmed and the Animals portion of the show began. Photos of President Trump with various words–“Charade,” “Joker,” and more–appeared on the screens. A motor-controlled, giant inflatable pig whirred overhead with “Piggy Bank of War” and “Bombs + Death come out here” on one side and “Welcome to the Machine – I Won” (with a picture of #45) on the other.

The screens filled with unseemly quotes that the President has made in recent years (“If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I would be dating her.”)

“Money” at the Meadowlands Arena (Photo: Greg Brodsky)

The band performed “Money” with photos depicting various political figures, as well as images of wealth and poverty. Sax player Ian Ritchie did the solo as well as on the follow-up, “Us and Them,” with Waters taking a back seat to his band.

The second set closed with an epic seven-and-a-half-minute “Brain Damage” / “Eclipse,” which together close DSOTM. The gals from Lucius began with harmonies, followed by the familiar guitar intro. As “Brain Damage” progressed, an inflatable moon flew overhead. At the precise moment in “Eclipse,” where Waters beginning singing “All that you touch, And all that you see,” a triangle replicating the DSOTM album cover prism appeared above the floor seats via lasers and smoke machines.

Of the dress rehearsal before roughly 3500 lucky fans in an arena built for 19,000, Waters said, “It’s been so wonderful for us to be here with family and friends, and their friends and their families.”

After band introductions came three more songs from The Wall, closing with a terrific “Comfortably Numb.” Waters let Wilson and his lovely voice sing the melancholy chorus (“There is no pain, you are receding”).

“Us + Them” audiences–and we suspect they will be left-leaning–are in for a treat.

 Roger Waters Us + Them May 21, 2017 Setlist

Breathe
One of These Days
Time
The Great Gig in the Sky
Welcome to the Machine
Deja Vu
The Last Refugee
Picture That
Wish You Were Here
Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2, 3

Intermission

Dogs
Pigs (Three Different Ones)
Money
Us and Them
Smell the Roses
Brain Damage
Eclipse

Encores
Vera
Bring the Boys Back Home
Comfortably Numb

The tour runs through October 29, concluding in Vancouver, BC. Tickets are available here and here.

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Greg Brodsky

Greg Brodsky

Best Classic Bands Founder/CEO Greg Brodsky earned his first professional bylines as a reporter for the music trade weekly Record World. He still has all his vinyl albums and enjoys going to flea markets and garage sales to grow his collection.
Greg Brodsky
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  1. Mikey7312
    #1 Mikey7312 12 June, 2017, 18:37

    I saw the concert in San Jose, California. I was turned off by the graphic political messaging that ran throughout the show. I was hoping to escape the realities of the real world with good music. Don’t get me wrong, the music was good but the escape from the day to world of politics did not happen. It was too over the tip. Ticket prices were high for this show and I expected more special effects. To say the least the special effects were notably lacking. Also, there were some moveable roll up screens at my dhow with one malfunctioning the proved to be distracting and made the show look amateurish. Bottom line…leave the politics outside the venue, get the dpecial effects back into the show and make sure it all works before charging fans such a huge amount of money.

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    • Alexus
      Alexus 15 June, 2017, 17:21

      I couldn’t agree more! I am a huge fan of Pink Floyd and of course Roger Waters and the show I watched last night just let me down. Way too over the top politically, that was not the entertainment that I paid for. For such a musical genius, he really let me down this tour.

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  2. Kihaku
    #2 Kihaku 13 June, 2017, 14:16

    So I just saw the show last night! All I can say is FREAKING AMAZING!!! you did it one more time Roger Waters, and left us all with a whole lot to think about, which exceeds normal every day life and which goes to the WORLD AS A WHOLE. I am in awe of his artistic abilities as a musician, and as someone who has ALWAYS taken a political and CONTROVERSIAL stance. Lets face it, the world is hating and killing each other. . . . and we sit back while people are starving and dying, wars, prisoners. WAKE UP WORLD. As for the show . . . I cannot praise him enough. I had no idea what to expect and watched as a whole lot of people got up and left when he talked about President Trump. So this is the thing. Why is it ok for him to talk about the other world controversies yet when he talks about this, right here, under everyone noses, people freak out? I mean, are we really that ignorant as a nation to not see the potential here and I am not talking about good potential . . . . EYES WIDE SHUT! I stated this in reply to someone who wanted to say, it was not appropriate for “a concert” . . . . what does everyone thing the movie “The Wall” was about, or any of his other stances? the new songs . . . . .? does anyone listen???? how do you go to a show and NOT KNOW what you are going to see???? Does everyone think Roger Waters is just a COOL TRIPPY MUSIC LIGHT SHOW????? Unfortunately, the lewdness started with the president, and the ignorance remains in the people who CHOOSE to keep their eyes closed to what is going on in the world around us, and RIGHT HERE IN OUR COUNTRY!!!. His show did nothing but speak the TRUTH. Yes, it is not what anyone wants to see when they pay lots of money for a night out. re:money. . . . make the connection . . . You either are in or your out, and if you are in agreement to the TRUTH that was shown last night, you would support. Sadly . . . . . Roger Waters did not make trump do and say the things he did, nor is he responsible for the World as a whole’s actions, which now is subject to FREEDOM OF SPEECH. . . .Lets face it, this has nothing to do with whether he is an American citizen or not, this has everything to do with the WORLD AS A WHOLE. Wake up people. Didn’t we learn from the sins of the past????

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    • Bagman
      Bagman 25 June, 2017, 01:35

      Sounds like the left is fine with this juxtaposition of entertainment and politics, while the right could do without the commentary. Me, I want to absorb the full musical experience that is the hallmark of Pink Floyd. Current political editorializing is beneath the band’s underlying foundation of general societal messaging. I’m disappointed it has come to this.

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  3. Jack
    #3 Jack 14 August, 2017, 11:52

    To the people complaining about the politics, what do you think these songs are about? RW has always been controversial. He’s always spoke the truth. Sometimes that’s not so pretty. When you go to a concert, you go to get some kind of visual to go with the songs, an interpretation, by the artist, of the music. Some artists are more aggressive in their presentation than others. RW doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination, in that, he blatantly shoves the interpretation in your face. If you have followed him and his music for 40+ years and you don’t know what he’s about, you’ve been listening with audio blinders on. If all you want is the music, stay home and listen to the albums. But if you want the full experience and meaning of the music, don’t shake him with your interpretation of what you think the music is about.

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  4. Doctor Robert
    #4 Doctor Robert 14 August, 2017, 12:08

    Like Wagner, his repulsive anti-Semitism makes it difficult to appreciate his work. Waters is either culpably ignorant or just plain malevolent.

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    • Jack
      Jack 14 August, 2017, 16:11

      RW is not antisemetic, He simple wants for the Palestinians what the Jewish population has, a homeland. He has never preached violence against the Jews, nor does he want to deprive them of anything any other person strives for in life. Perhaps you don’t agree with his idea of what any person, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or religious belief has a right to in this world, you’re free to believe what you want. However, to paint someone negatively because of his views requires an extremely full and complete understanding of his views, not the superficial examination you have given them.

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