Concert Review – Roger Waters – This is Not A Drill

I actually bought these tickets for a 2020 show and I think we all know what happened then. So finally, we waited long enough that we could actually congregate again. The wait was worth it.

The show was at the TD Garden in Boston where we (my son and I) saw The Who a few months ago. At that show, the setup was pretty traditional with the band at one end of the arena and us about 20 or so rows back.

But our seats here – while located on the floor – initially gave us what was a weird view. Here’s how it looked about 1/2 hour before showtime.

So you see this big black structure with people sitting right up against it. Was it going to rise? Was the band going to burst out of it? Well, given what we know about Floyd I should have guessed- it was a screen. AND it rose.

Initially they used the screen to give a countdown to the show and then a warning of sorts was written on it (and spoken in a sonorous British voice) thusly:

               If you don’t like Roger’s politics, feel free to fuck off to the bar.

Now if you know anything about Waters’ politics at all, he’s very anti-fascist, very political, very pro-human rights, and famously, very pro-Palestine. I know people who won’t go see him for the latter reason. I will say that while I agree with most of his politics, I would hate to spend good money and find out that the artist was going to, say, applaud Trump all night.

Anyway, the show started with images on the screen (the visuals were incredible) and Waters standing in silhouette singing “Comfortably Numb” which segued into “The Happiest Days of Our Lives” and then “Another Brick in the Wall Parts 2 and 3.”

I am of the opinion that Waters said fuck it, I am going to get the big ones out of the way so I can do my own stuff. The concert consisted largely of cuts from Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, and some Waters solo stuff (with one new tune called “The Bar.” (If you want earlier stuff, Nick Mason has a band called Saucerful of Secrets that does that stuff.)

Interestingly, even though Waters has a band that can apparently play just about anything, the iconic solos in “Numb” were not played. Here’s the show opening:

If there’s one thing Floyd have always known how to do it’s set a mood. This show did that fabulously. You feel you went on a journey. Waters used some of the printed words on the screen to tell the story of how he and Syd Barrett had seen the Stones way back when and decided then and there to form a band. Cut to random shots of the band. But it all worked.

Next up were some Waters solo tunes, “The Powers That Be,” (under images of police brutality and names of those killed by police), “The Bravery of Being Out of Range,” and “The Bar.”

Of this tune, one reviewer said, “Sitting down behind the piano, he introduced a new song, ‘The Bar,’ saying it was about a place where people who “care about human rights and free press and democracy … can go with a sense of community.” The ballad may be the most hopeful and warm thing he’s ever written.”

I should note that while we had seats on the floor that were pretty close, we were kinda sitting on the side with members of the band periodically visiting different sides. Half the time I wasn’t sure if Waters was even on stage as I couldn’t always see him (often played piano) and we spent a lot of time looking at the screen which was endlessly fascinating.

Next up were “Have a Cigar,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX).” All great and the audience singing wasn’t intrusive or overbearing.

I’m really glad Waters did “Sheep” (from Animals.) A great, unique tune in so many ways. He introduced that album as being his Orwell album. BTW, Waters isn’t the singer that Gilmour is but he was perfectly fine and the guitar player sang a few.

That was the end of the first set. Somewhere in there, I forget where, the flying pig came rumbling out.

A word here about Waters politics – if you’re thinking of going and you don’t subscribe to his largely left-wing views, best save your money. He pulls no punches. There are many images of people whose rights have been stripped, he put pictures of Reagan and Trump on the screen and stamped them as War Criminals and with Biden said, “Just getting started.”

The screen rolled off a series of “Fuck this” and “Fuck that” messages and showed previously classified leaked atrocities. He also praised Julian Assange for his courage. (A reader informs me that rape charges against Assange, which may have been trumped up, have been dropped.)

The second half of this epic kicked off with “In the Flesh” and “Run Like Hell” from The Wall then a couple of Roger tunes and then ‘Money.” We laughed about this one later when we ran into some friends of my son at the merch table. Want a This is Not a Drill jacket? Two hundred dollars.

After “Money” it was mostly all Dark Side, then a tune I didn’t know from The Final Cut called “Two Suns in the Sunset.” Then this utterly cool thing happened:

At some point it became encore time and Roger came out by himself and sat at the piano. And an unusual thing happened that I’ve rarely seen at a show.

The audience was applauding, as it will, for an encore. But the applause kept building and building and building and it was pretty clear that we were just thanking Waters not only for a great show but for all the years of incredible music and incredible epics you can just enjoy, get stoned to or be moved by.

And Waters was visibly moved, almost to tears. A guy shouted out “We Love You Roger!” and at that moment, we did. Politics aside, Waters is a 78-year-old man who – like Springsteen in his Broadway show – sees, I think, his mortality closer than before. And is finally humble enough to appreciate the affection.

He also profusely thanked this Boston audience for “getting it.” Now, Boston is notoriously liberal and so the message might have resonated better. But I wouldn’t assume that the entire audience was aligned and that a good percentage weren’t buying his message and were just digging the music.

That said, afterward my son and I grabbed a beer at a bar across the street from the Garden. A guy there asked me what I thought and I told him it was awesome. He told me he was ex-military but that Waters’ show really made him think about what’s really going on in the world and about The Powers that Be.

Proving once again that best art does and should make us think and sometimes change minds. If you want party music, I suppose you can fuck off to the bar and listen to Motley Crue whose message can best be reduced to “Where are the hot chicks?”

At that point, the crew brought out some yellow caution tape, and while the band was playing the final number, one by one they marched off the stage. (The pig by now had run its course).

All in all, a magnificent, moving show by a great performer and his band. And as I said, worth the two-year wait for all involved. The place was crowded but didn’t appear to be sold out. Covid concerns? Understandable. Waters’ politics? Well, there’s always country music.

Setlist

Intro

(Roger’s politics & Pink Floyd intro/announcement)

Set 1:

Comfortably Numb

The Happiest Days of Our Lives

Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2

Another Brick in the Wall, Part 3

The Powers That Be

The Bravery of Being Out of Range

The Bar

Have a Cigar

Wish You Were Here

Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)

Sheep

Set 2:

In the Flesh

Run Like Hell

Déjà Vu

Is This the Life We Really Want?

Money

Us and Them

Any Colour You Like

Brain Damage

Eclipse

Two Suns in the Sunset

The Bar (Reprise)

Outside the Wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

39 thoughts on “Concert Review – Roger Waters – This is Not A Drill

  1. Looks like an impressive show. In the set list I only recognize the Pink Floyd songs. Other than “The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking”, which I heard back in the ’80s and wasn’t very impressed with, I haven’t listened to any other Roger Waters solo album. I didn’t realize he’s already in his late ’70s – wow!

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    1. It was quite the extravaganza. You can find the whole thing online in separate sets if you’re so inclined. I had put together a Spotify set list so I kinda knew what to expect. Which reminds me, I meant to add that to the post.

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    1. Yeh, in part due to 2020 delays. I also saw a comedy show that was delayed by two years. I have one more Big Artist to see this month and that’s all I got. That said, Springsteen tix go on sale next week and I will have a decision to make.

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        1. I got tickets to see Bruce today in Boston. Price? Close to 900 bucks for two tickets on the Floor of the TD Garden. The only reason at all that I felt comfortable paying that is I have a $1000 bonus money that I was saving for it. I could have saved it for something else. So this is all your fault. 😎

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        2. Ha! I take full blame but don’t offer any compensation with that. That would be a record for me even though I did spend that much for 4 for Phantom of the opera on Broadway.

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        3. I’ll accept your payment in small bills. As to Phantom, fuck that. I like musicals quite a bit and in fact saw “Music Man” in NYC about three weeks ago. Saw “Phantom” and “Cats” once each. Never again.

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        4. Music Man is one of my favorites. Great score, dancing. Corny as shit but fun. Hugh Jackman was supposed to be in it but he got Covid the night before I went. NYC is back to being a madhouse of people BTW.

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        5. That is good, and bad at the same time. Last time I was there was about 4 years ago and it was kinda crazy then even in April. It actually snowed while we were there and it was quite beautiful.

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        6. Right. We went with some friends and saw Jeff Bridges in “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 2019. It was so fucking crowded in the theater area that the cab could not drop us near the theater. And we could barely walk for the massive crowds. I used to live in NYC and still very much like to visit. My wife on the other hand couldn’t care less if she ever goes back.

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  2. Great review. Thank you.

    Quick note: Julian Assange is no longer up on rape charges. They were dropped years ago when it became clear that they were trumped up to try and extradite him to Sweden, a country that would then extradite him to the US to face espionage charges. He’s spent over a decade being persecuted for the crime of journalism.

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    1. Hard to answer without knowing the venue. Unusual setup. It’s in the round. So if you were up a tier you might have a better overview. We had floor seats (check out my “Sheep” video) yet we were watching from the side. But it didn’t really seem to matter as frankly you spend most of your time looking at the screens. I think Waters is trying to de-emphasize the “watch the band play” thing over the total experience. So, bottom line is I’d go with floor all things considered. If there are financial considerations and tier is cheaper go with that. You won’t miss the action and you won’t regret it. Caveat – if you’re not aligned with Roger’s politics, best stay home and listen to Floyd albums.

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  3. I’m a big Pink Floyd fan. I’d give the concert a 6. Roger Waters has become self indulgent to the extreme. Stick to the songs that the 40-50 somethings want to hear. Leave being current to the new bands.

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    1. I can hardly disagree thar he’s self-indulgent but I still thought it was a hell of a show. I’m not clear on what songs he played that were “current.” Literally every song on the setlist were either Floyd or his solo stuff.

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  4. I caught the opening show in Pittsburgh. Run Like Hell ended with Roger firing a machine gun (with blanks, of course) into the crowd. It caught me off guard (the shooting at the 4th of July parade outside Chicago was just the day before). I wondered if that would happen in future shows or if it would get cut as being too much. Did he do it in Boston?

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      1. Did it in detroit……..it was to much. Politics was to much. Sound and video was great tho. I left happy, but disappointed, if that makes sense.

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  5. I’m a fifty something faded out rock n roller I grew up on Floyd, Zeppelin, The Who, The doors, but also Skynyrd and Nugent. I don’t think I ever considered the lyrical content or deeper meaning of the songs or if I did then I just thought that the lyricist was trying to express themselves and their feelings. I don’t think I ever thought that rock stars were ever trying to force me to believe a certain way. I liked the construction of the song with the tone, changes and expressive moments in the texture of the singing, etc. I still do! I have had an original rock band and have written lyrics that caused my atheist drummer to force his thoughts and insults on me. Whatever. I expected it from an atheist anyway. In the end he realized that these were my lyrics and not a forced propaganda on him. He simply liked the construction of the song and the tone of which the lyrics were being sung. As most of us do right? Even from an early age any of the lyrics that I could put together that Waters wrote I thought , Hey here’s a guy that must have gone through some stuff at an early age that is causing him to be historical and vengeful. I felt sorry for him. My older sister bought tickets for my for the Albany, NY show for my fiftieth birthday. I have the best big sister right?? I found myself throughout the show blocking off the screen and trying to focus only on the band. The propaganda was just too much. I thought three performers in particular that deserved mention, the keyboardist, and the two ladies singing backing vocals. Eclipse was incredible and we thought Waters was on point with this number as well. The crowd did too. I guess I just wished that I had warning of the propaganda. I might be left, right, far left, far right, or a fence rider , but a heads up would have been nice. Of course we were told to “f -off “to the bar if we didn’t agree with his politics, however , we already purchased the tickets and were sitting there in the arena. Would we have gotten our money back if we left right at that point? I would say probably not. I think my sister might be feeling like she just got pick-pocketed by none other than Roger Waters himself. Maybe a better name for the show would have been “Aggressive Far Left Propaganda with the Music of Pink Floyd’s Former Bandmate Roger Waters”. I think we would have had a clear indication of what kind of show we were going to, but, “surprise surprise surprise “

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    1. I’m a little older than you maybe a bit more “left” than you but I hear you. If I had wandered into a conservative convention with music I’d be pissed. That said, Roger has been way out there with his politics. But I agree – he should make it super clear what you’re getting before you drop all that dough. BTW, if you have never seen them, Brit Floyd are cheaper by miles and politics-free. And if you closed your eyes you’d never know it wasn’t Floyd.

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      1. Thanks Jim! I guess I never dove in deep enough to realize his political stance or that he is so aggressive. I mean, we all have our political beliefs right but most of us are trying to be as cordial to each other as we can no mater what our beliefs are so we can all stop the fighting and maybe enjoy some kind of peace together. Waters says “peace” but I couldn’t help but think that he probably wished he had real bullets in that machine gun. His message is anything but peace. It’s antagonistic. No wonder there will never be a reunion with Pink Floyd. Thanks for the Brit Floyd suggestion. I will certainly look them up.

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  6. We have freedom of speech and your opinion is fine. No need to plaster your thoughts on an overly giant screen though the entire show!! Would have been nice to simply see the performers do their thing.
    I get my politics elsewhere. I came out to get away from all that crap for a few hours.
    We left the political offensive show. Basically we took his advice to f*** off at the bar at home!!

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    1. The more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to agree with you. Alternatively, Waters makes it clear as you’re buying a ticket that it will be a highly political left-leaning show. And then you just don’t go.

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  7. Never imagined walking out of a concert, but there’s a 1st time for everything. I’d like to say I’ve enjoyed Pink Floyd music my entire life and will continue to do so, but my concert days might be over. Yes, I with 3 friends made a collective decision and walked out shortly after the intermission. I think that many people go to concert venues to get away from life issues and all the corruption/evil/hypocrisy of the world. Who would like to spend the night watching all the things wrong with the world set to music. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I have to say not my idea of a good time. I know what’s happening in the world today and think being mindless sheep is extremely insulting. 1 friend in the group served in our US military and lost a brother from 9/11. But let’s enjoy what’s left of free speech while we still can. I just wish I could have listened to my favorite music without being reminded of how corrupt and terrible the world is.

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