The last time Roger Waters played Pittsburgh he brought his visually stunning production of The Wall for the second time to PPG Paints (then Consol) Arena. Last night, Rogers brought an even more visually amped up display along with the perfect sound he is known for to present an evening of Pink Floyd classics entitled the Us + Them Tour. Many thought there was no way to top the spectacle of The Wall concerts, but Rogers and his team found a way to have concertgoers witness what they more than likely had never witnessed before.
Opening with “Breathe” the massive screen showed “otherworldly” visuals that can easily be found on YouTube but never replace seeing it live. Rarely these days does an artist continually up his/her game, especially at the age of 74. But Rogers has never been your run of the mill artist. If one closed their eyes for a few seconds, one would certainly feel as though his former partner in Pink Floyd, David Gilmour, was right there singing, “Run, rabbit, run,” especially thanks to Jonathan Wilson’s killer voice. The true surround sound created by speakers placed very specifically around the arena was a trippy experience enough. Add onto that Waters’ band going into the instrumental “One Of These Days” and the mind-altering backdrop vision happening and there was no need for extra substances to get “high”.
It was not until “Time” that Roger actually sang and he makes you realize why he is still at the top of his game; he is in great shape, his voice is still powerful, and he is genuinely having a great time bringing the show to the people. Lead guitarist David Kilminster is sickeningly good and replicates the sound of Floyd to a T. As they went into
“The Great Gig In The Sky” and “Welcome To The Machine”, the addition of the two oddly “twin dressed and wigged” backup singers (AKA Lucius) became apparent, their voices were stunning.
Waters then went into some of his well-known solo stuff including, “When We Were Young,” “Deja Vu,” “The Last Refugee,” and “Picture That,” all of which seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. But right back into Floyd stuff, he went with the classic acoustic “Wish You Were Here,” “The Happiest Of Our Lives,” “Another Brick In The Wall Part Two,” “Another Brick In The Wall Part Three,” once again including a local choir group and dressed in prisoner outfits with lack hoods a la Abu Ghraib who were immersed in their roles.
The band took a break and came back strong for set two. This is when things were kicked up about ten notches. “Dogs,” and “Pigs,” from the studio album Animals broke out as the strange long structure that hung from the rafters in the middle of the crowd, running from the stage all the way to the back of the arena, suddenly sprouted smokestacks that smoked and then 8 screens on each side came down to “build” the factory from 8 different screens. As the music progressed, so did the visuals throughout “Money,” “Us and Them,” and “Smell The Roses”. A giant inflatable pig with Trumps face on it flew over the crowd as the moving pictures took on a political statement. Critical images of Trump continued mixed with surreal pictorial elements and lasers built the prism from “Dark Side Of The Moon” as “Brain Damage” provided the soundtrack.
“Eclipse,” “Vera,” “Bring The Boys Back Home,” and “Comfortably Numb” closed out the set for an evening no one will soon forget, the barrage to the senses overwhelming and lasting. Roger Waters continues to be the pioneer he always has been as he keeps pushing the envelope of how to entertain audiences and at the same time force them to think about the world around them. (Full setlist and links to videos of the Us + Them Tour from across the globe here.
All photos © 2017 Aweldingphoto