There is no doubt that Roger Waters is a controversial figure when it comes to his opinions on highly charged political issues and the way he uses his music and art to make those statements. Whatever your thoughts are on that and whether you agree with him or not, Waters is undeniably one of the most influential figures in modern music history. Both as a member of Pink Floyd and as a solo artist in his own right, he has been a social activist for the better part of a half-century. His current Us + Them World Tour has solidified that fact, with his performance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center being the most recent proof of his towering stature.
At the ripe age of 74 (his birthday was September 6th), Waters is in incredible shape. Last night, the rock star commanded a crowd of 20,000+ fans with his high-energy performance, strutting around on stage like a 20-year old and throwing his fist high in the air time and time again. With one of the most massive and elaborate visual shows in tow, the music of Waters and Pink Floyd is that much more elevated, showcasing some of the most meaningful music created in the 20th century.
From this recent tour, it’s clear that Waters is a man on a mission. His show frequently featured striking images of war and other human injustices occurring all around the world, Donald Trump (along with asinine quotes made by Agent Orange in recent history), and Vladamir Putin, with the visuals making a clear and powerful statement for those in attendance. Classic songs such as “Another Brick in the Wall (Parts 2 & 3),” “Dogs,” “Pigs (3 Different Ones),” and “Us and Them” resonated that much more and took on a deeper, heavier meaning when paired with such relevant images from our time.
However, there were also a number of serene, peaceful, and ethereal moments during last night’s performance. “Speak To Me / Breathe,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Brain Damage > Eclipse,” and “Comfortably Numb” were all uplifting and beautiful. In contrast with the darker moments from Roger Waters’ show, the more uplifting numbers called attention to the fact that the music of Pink Floyd has always been able to evoke such a wide spectrum of emotion and underlined how impressive it is that Waters and company are able to awaken such a range of feelings in a live setting.
September 11th is a brutal day for many around the globe, but especially for those in New York City and the surrounding areas who were directly affected by the devastation caused on that infamous day. These are wounds that will simply never quite heal, no matter how much time passes. But just like the dichotomy that exists in the music of Pink Floyd and its ability to be both dark and light, this binary also exists in human nature. 9/11 bore witness to the evil that exists in this world, but also showed the resilience, compassion, and willingness to help those in need that exists on the opposite end of that spectrum. Good + Evil….Light + Dark….Us + Them.
This sentiment wasn’t lost whatsoever on Waters, as he addressed the crowd prior to beginning “Vera” during the first part of the encore, “This is a very sad anniversary for a lot of people in this town and we feel for the families of all the innocent people who were killed that day 16 years ago. And also for the first responders who died since from the diseases they got from working,” Roger said. “And also the hundreds of thousands, even millions of people in the rest of the world who’ve died since that day because of what happened and our responses to it. So let our hearts be with all the innocent people all around the world whoever they might be, whatever their ethnicity or their color or religion.”
The show came to a fitting close with “Bring the Boys Back Home” followed by “Comfortably Numb,” the latter of which features one of the greatest guitar solos ever heard, that leaves fans mesmerized every single time. Waters returns to Brooklyn this evening to close out his two-night run at Barclays Center.
Check out some video from Roger Waters’ performance at the Barclays Center below, along with a full gallery of images, courtesy of Chad Anderson Photography.
Setlist: Roger Waters | Barclays Center | Brooklyn, NY | 9/11/17
Set One: Speak to Me, Breathe, One of These Days, Time, Breathe (Reprise), The Great Gig in the Sky, Welcome to the Machine, When We Were Young, Déjà Vu, The Last Refugee, Picture That, Wish You Were Here, The Happiest Days of Our Lives, Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, Another Brick in the Wall Part 3
Set Two: Dogs, Pigs (Three Different Ones), Money, Us and Them, Smell the Roses, Brain Damage, Eclipse
Encore: Vera, Bring the Boys Back Home, Comfortably Numb
“Pigs (3 Different Ones)”
[via Ian Ference]