Roger Waters not slowed by ‘Time’

Former Pink Floyd star brings complete theatrical concert experience to Atlanta

Much has been said these days about artists who mix politics with their craft, and not all of it has been complementary.  On July 16 at the Infinite Energy Center in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth, Georgia, however, it wasn’t as much what Roger Waters said as it was what was displayed on the giant screens behind him – although the lyrical content of several tracks from the freshly released “Is This the Life We Really Want?” spoke volumes, as well.

The 73-year-old Waters has always been politically active/motivated, and if you didn’t realize that going into 2017’s Us + Them tour, then you haven’t been paying close attention to the former Pink Floyd mastermind over the years.  Rogers doesn’t stop performances to rant like Eddie Vedder or Bono, though; instead, he displays his views in the form of video loops which feature war, poverty, environmental issues and political heads of state such as Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

In fact, Rogers didn’t speak much at all during the show, only pausing briefly to acknowledge the roaring crowd on a few occasions. Sure, there was a smattering of boos when, at the finale of “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” the side screen displayed the declaration that “Trump is Pig.” Except for that instance, though, the audience was eating up every bit of what Rogers and company were serving.

And that delicious dish was a three-and-a-half hour, 25-song set for the ages. Backed by a top-notch six-piece band, which featured synthesizers, saxophones, backup singing from Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig (of Lucius fame) and 3-D sound, this career-spanning show was a bucket-list concert for many in attendance, including this old music head.

Waters came out, guns blazing, with “Breathe” and “One of These Days.”  From there, the journey hit nearly every selection from the Floyd catalogue, including “Dark Side of the Moon,”  “Wish You Were Here” and “Animals”-era Pink Floyd. For the “Animals” portion of the show, which occurred during the second set, a projection screen running the length of the floor and complete with smoke stacks on top was lowered, and it really did closely resemble the old Battersea Power Station that graced the cover of the 1977 classic.

It was at this point, too, that the show turned overtly political in nature. Images of Trump as a baby, Trump Tower, Putin and money symbols were flashed throughout the arena.   Waters then brought out a choir comprising members of Destined for Greatness Outreach Youth Center, an Atlanta non-profit, for a rousing rendition of “Another Brick in the Wall.” Renowned sideman Dave Kilminster and Dawes’ Jonathan Wilson supplied memorable vocal harmonies on the track, and it should be noted, also, that the latter was on point all night.

In fact, the creativity that was on display during this particular show – and the tour at large, it must be assumed – was second to none. The spectacular presentation steeped in theatrical magic was proof that the old chap still has it and has not lost a thing. For at least one night, I felt nothing but love in a room full of concertgoers, a sentiment Waters himself echoed at the concert’s conclusion.

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