The British rocker’s gentle yet raspy voice was pre-recorded from speakers before Roger Waters took the stage at Madison Square Garden for the second edition of This Is Not a Drill Tour on Wednesday night (August 31st). issued a warning. You’re one of those people who say, “I love Pink Floyd, but I can’t stand Roger’s politics.”
Rescheduled from 2020 due to the pandemic, the 78-year-old legend’s current tour weighs as much on unbanned political commentary as it does on the music of influential psych-rock bands, so this was fair warning, he’s famous. And over the course of his generous two-act show, which includes harrowing dystopian visuals, remote-controlled floating animals, and copious amounts of smoke, Floyd’s songs (which make up more than half of his setlist) fall short. (Well, the smoke wasn’t from Waters’ 140-man crew, but it was the gray-haired fan who sparked near the top of the show the moment he started singing “Another Brick in the Wall.” did.)
If there were any “shut up and sing” types in the audience that night, they were either strangely silent or accepted his advice about going to a bar. The crowd’s reaction was either supportive or reverentially neutral to the image of anyone from Ronald Reagan to incumbent President Biden as a “war criminal.” From George Floyd of Minneapolis to Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akure when he played footage of police brutally beating unarmed and non-violent civilians, along with the names of their murdered victims. , there were even applause and tears. All of that went down during a driving, funky take on “The Powers That Be” from his 1987 solo album. radio chaossounds rather dated when listening to the studio version (MOR 80s rock productions are strong on that version), but boasts a more significant urgency when delivered by a current touring band.
Waters deserves credit for forcing 20,000 nostalgia-seeking Floyd fans to face the uncomfortable reality that most concerts serve as an escape. He reminded everyone that MSG (and all of New York City) is on land stolen from the people of Manzee Lenape centuries ago. And during the intense version of “Run Like Hell” that follows the acoustic “Déjà Vu” from his latest solo effort, Is this the life we really want?, He reminded us Americans of the chilling, poignant footage of the 2007 shooting of two Reuters journalists in a peaceful public space after they mistook a camera for a weapon. made me face it. A U.S. Central Command spokesperson said, “We regret the loss of innocent lives,” but no one was punished for the death. The message “Free Julian Assange” accompanies the video).
But Waters’ ongoing comments about the war in Ukraine, which he doubled down on Wednesday night, are less laudable. The Dark Side of the Moon, Waters blamed the US and NATO for not ending the war in Ukraine. “It’s completely insane that we’re poking sticks at Russian bears,” he said near the end of the show, sitting at the piano.
At that point, either the audience was too hypnotized by the music or they could do nothing but chase away the secondhand smoke and exchange glances wondering if he heard him right. Perhaps not everyone in attendance was familiar with Waters’ recent comments on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Waters blamed both Biden and Ukrainian President Zelensky for poor negotiations with Russia. Invader. He also claimed that Russia was forced into the war, saying that “this war is basically about the actions and reactions of NATO pushing to the Russian border.” Invade Poland because of the harsh reparations imposed on the country after World War I – as if explaining the causes of hostile aggression relieves the aggressor of moral responsibility.
It is also possible that the muted reaction to his humiliating Ukrainian comment was the result of the crowd giving him a pass. It’s eye-catching, complemented by an equally immersive acoustic experience that lets you go as hell loud without going to a head-splitting level where you have to reach for earplugs. Spectacle. And when the inflatable sheep circled the fans’ heads, naturally the joy visible on everyone’s faces during the “sheep” was as life-affirming as the dark imagery was depressing. (Additionally, it’s ironic to see hundreds of people reflexively take out their cellphones when a giant sheep appears overhead.)
Overall, Waters’ This Is Not a Drill tour reminds us of two important truths. Eventually, you’ll say something that you wish you were at a bar instead.