Roger Waters Debuts “This Is Not a Drill Tour” with Stunning Visuals, Scathing Commentary: Review, Photos, and Setlist

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The post Roger Waters Debuts “This Is Not a Drill Tour” with Stunning Visuals, Scathing Commentary: Review, Photos, and Setlist appeared first on Consequence.

As the lights dimmed in Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena for the first show of Roger Waters“This Is Not A Drill Tour” (get tickets here), the former Pink Floyd member and his team made two requests:

1. “Please turn off your cell phone as a courtesy to the people around you.
2. “If you’re here because you like Pink Floyd but you can’t stand Roger Waters’ politics, fuck off to the bar.

That’s the tone that powered the night. Yes, Waters and his band played some of Pink Floyd’s greatest hits alongside some of Waters’ most breathtaking originals, and, yes, they played them all beautifully. And, yes, the visuals, which we’ll discuss in a moment, were stunning.

But after two years of tour delays stemming from a global pandemic and an endless string of controversial political headlines from around the world, “This Is Not a Drill” is a direct response to everything that’s gone wrong in recent years. And if you ask Roger Waters — the creative who wrote through the pained anguish within Wish You Were Here, penned the Orwellian tribute of Animals, and developed the landmark introspective concept album The Wall — there’s plenty to be upset about.

Throughout the course of his “This Is Not a Drill Tour” opener, Waters addressed everything from abortion rights to transphobia to America’s rampant and storied war crimes. If awareness sparks emotion, Waters is pissed.

The live show format is perfect for Waters and his band. Just as Pink Floyd built a reputation for elaborate and immersive live performances, Waters and his crew have developed a uniquely memorable experience. Relying heavily on an enormous cross-shaped divider capable of splitting the multi-directional stage into four different panels, the crew leveraged 12 different surfaces for projected images.

Roger Waters This Is Not A Drill Tour kick off pittsburgh
Roger Waters This Is Not A Drill Tour kick off pittsburgh

Roger Waters, photo by Brian Lima

It’s those projections that take the “This Is Not A Drill” show from good to great, allowing viewers to step deeper than ever into the psyche of the primary songwriting force from Pink Floyd’s golden age. The opener, Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” was reimagined as a dark funeral dirge backed by a city wasteland that’s long been lost and forgotten. During “Another Brick in the Wall,” the second song, violent demands for conformity flashed in enormous red and white letters.

In the third song, the full force of Waters’ political vitriol roared to the surface. While the scathing lyrics of “The Powers That Be” rang through the arena, the projections showed clips of police brutality while listing off many of the most internationally reported minority deaths in recent few years, including Pittsburgh’s Antwon Rose, Jr., the 17-year-old fatally shot by police in 2018.

During the next song, “The Bravery of Being Out of Range,” the projections moved systematically through each US presidential administration since Ronald Reagan, carefully outlining each individual’s own heinous war crimes. Waters may be a little older, and he might need a little more time to catch his breath between songs, but he’s still fighting against the same institutions and deep-rooted issues he’s railed against since the 1970s.

In the fifth song of the night, the crowd enjoyed a brief reprieve from the emotional and provocative visual landscapes. As Waters stepped behind the keyboard, he explained the concept for his next song, a new track called “The Bar”: A dream world where people can truly come together and connect as their best, most caring selves.

During “Wish You Were Here,” a typed story appeared on the enormous screens, detailing a memory of Waters and his old friend and former bandmate, Syd Barrett. As Waters recounted, he and Barrett promised to start a band when they went to college, and then Syd’s mental health rapidly declined. It was an emotional flashback, and it helped “Wish You Were Here” provide the same heartbreaking punch it first landed in 1975.

After a 20-minute intermission, the second half was very similar to the first, but with a few exceptions: The lighting was more complex, the famous pig floated around for a couple of songs, and Waters briefly donned a long leather jacket and red armband for two songs off The Wall. The show concluded on a much softer note. After the crescendos of The Dark Side of The Moon’s “Eclipse” and the depressing Doomsday Clock-inspired “Two Suns in the Sunset,” Waters’ face filled the enormous screens as he once again stepped behind the keyboard.

After shaking off a brief whirlwind of emotions sparked by an enlivened crowd and years away from the stage, Waters explained the backstory for “Sad Old Lady,” an original track heavily inspired by an old Bob Dylan tune. As the song eventually wound down, the entire band lined up, still playing their instruments, and marched off stage.

Roger Waters this is not a drill tour concert review
Roger Waters this is not a drill tour concert review

Roger Waters, photo by Kate Izor

This, then, was perhaps the most touching moment of the night. Despite all the moral outrage and social frustration that propel “This Is Not a Drill” forward, we watched as the cameras followed the band down the stage steps, through the crowd, and into the privacy of backstage, where the band circled around Waters. With one triumphant wave goodbye from the man himself, the camera cut off and the house lights went up.

The show was over — for now.

The “This Is Not a Drill Tour” is a critical show in a critical time. The world may be chaotic. Our leadership may be corrupt. And our society may be selfish. But as much as “This Is Not a Drill” is a call to arms against hate, it’s also an important reminder: At the end of the day, all we have is each other. And for three hours inside PPG Paints Arena, that was enough.

Roger Waters plays next at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on July 8th, with further North American shows scheduled through mid-October. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

roger waters tour concert review this is not a drill
roger waters tour concert review this is not a drill

Roger Waters, photo by Brian Lima

Setlist:
Set 1:
Comfortably None (Pink Floyd)
Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1 (Pink Floyd)
Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 (Pink Floyd)
Another Brick in the Wall, Part 3 (Pink Floyd)
The Powers That Be
The Bravery of Being Out of Range
The Bar
Have a Cigar (Pink Floyd)
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IV) (Pink Floyd)
Sheep (Pink Floyd)

Set 2:
In the Flesh (Pink Floyd)
Run Like Hell (Pink Floyd)
Déjà Vu
Is This the Life We Really Want?
Money (Pink Floyd)
Us and Them (Pink Floyd)
Any Colour You Like (Pink Floyd)
Brain Damage (Pink Floyd)
Eclipse (Pink Floyd)
Two Suns in the Sunset (Pink Floyd)
The Bar (Reprise)

Roger Waters Debuts “This Is Not a Drill Tour” with Stunning Visuals, Scathing Commentary: Review, Photos, and Setlist
Pat Schober

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