Roger Waters concert review: Us & Them Tour takes on Donald Trump, pulling no punches

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Roger Waters pulled no punches when it came to mocking Donald Trump as the Us and Them rocked

Did Roger Waters even mention Donald Trump by name Wednesday night in the course of his epic performance of classic Pink Floyd songs and new solo material at Gila River Arena in Glendale?

I don’t think he did.

He gave no speeches, no long-winded sermons nor rants.

And yet, you’d be hard pressed to name a more openly anti-Trump rock concert currently touring arenas.

With apologies to Mr. Springsteen.

Waters’ disgust with the 45th President of the United States of America was fully integrated into the performance, much like last October’s show at Desert Trip while Trump was on the campaign trail.

He’d been on stage roughly 45 minutes Wednesday night before Trump's image made its first on-screen appearance, during “Picture That,” a track from Waters’ latest solo effort, a concept album whose title asks “Is This the Life We Really Want?”

It was during the part of the song that invites you to “picture a leader with no f--king brains.”

He brought the first set to a rousing finish with a selection of songs from “The Wall,” local schoolkids emerging in orange prison jumpsuits during the “The Happiest Days of Ours Lives.”

The kids removed their jumpsuits during “Another Brick in the Wall” to reveal the word “Resist” emblazoned on their T-shirts, a word that also flashed across the screen behind the stage in giant letters.

The second set was more political than that.

Illustrations of Trump filled the screens during “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” including one of the president’s head on the body of a baby being held aloft by Vladimir Putin while clutching a banner with the Trump-Pence logo on it. Another showed Trump in a car meant for toddlers.

When the legendary flying pig appeared to float above the crowd, one side displaying an illustration of the president with dollar-sign makeup on his eyes, shouting “I won!” The other side read “piggy bank of war” and “bombs and death come out here” with an arrow pointing to the pig’s behind.

That portion of the concert ended with assorted Trump quotes, from “My IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure: It’s not your fault” to “The point is, you can never be too greedy.”

roger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 1 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 2 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 3 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 4 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 5 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 6 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 7 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 8 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 9 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 10 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 11 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 12 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 13 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 14 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 15 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 16 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 17 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 18 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 19 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 20 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 21 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 22 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 23 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 24 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 25 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 26 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republicroger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 27 Roger Waters performs at Gila River Arena on Wednesday, June. 14, 2017.  Jim Louvau/Special for the Republic

The images of Trump continued during “Money,” and the second set built to a deeply emotional climax during “Us and Them,” as images of war and terror filled the screen.

The tour is named for Pink Floyd’s haunting meditation on the senselessness of war and beyond just providing the concert’s emotional centerpiece, those three words, “Us and Them,” served as a unifying theme – even more so than his feelings for the president.

As the bassist explained when we spoke by phone before the tour hit Glendale, "The show is titled Us & Them, and it’s based on my contention that the divisiveness that we see in the contemporary political arrangements on this small planet are counter-productive to the sum of happiness that is available to human beings. That’s why I call the show Us & Them, because I believe there is no 'them.' There’s only 'us.'"

The concert began with the opening tracks on Pink Floyd’s masterpiece, “The Dark Side of the Moon." And by the time he followed “Brain Damage” with “Eclipse” in the second set, he’d made his way through nearly every song on that collection.

Other highlights from his Pink Floyd days included “Welcome to the Machine,” “Wish You Were Here” and “Dogs.” And he ended the concert with the suite of songs that closes side three of “The Wall” – “Vera,” “Bring the Boys Back Home” and “Comfortably Numb.”

That still left Waters time to shine a spotlight on a handful of selection from his latest album, including “Déjà Vu,” “The Last Refugee,” “Picture That” and “Smell the Roses.” And it felt like they were written to be featured in that context with those songs from Pink Floyd’s catalog as part of that production. They were of a piece, thematically and musically, allowing the production to flow seamlessly from track to track to track.

His nine-piece backing band did a great job of bringing the music to life, from the cavernous majesty of guitar leads that managed to channel the magic David Gilmour brought to those original recordings to Holly Laessig and Jessica Wolfe wailing the high notes on “The Great Gig in the Sky” in their matching blonde wigs and black dresses.

roger-waters-concert-review-us--and--them-tour-takes-on-donald-trump-pulling-no-punches photo 28

Roger Waters performing with Lucius at Gila River Arena in Glendale on the Us & Them Tour. (Photo: Jim Louvau | Special for the Republic)

Of course, it helped that they were being filtered through a 3D surroundsound speaker system.

Anyone going in looking for next-level rock-and-roll theater of the sort he brought to Desert Trip last fall? We got that, too.

As dazzling as the video production in the first set may have been, he saved the more impressive bells and whistles for the second act. That's when the Battersea Power Station pictured on the cover of Pink Floyd’s “Animals” appeared above the crowd, its smokestacks as it sliced through the heart of the venue, allowing for even more video images to be projected.

As he prepared to launch the tour, the bassist promised, “It'll be spectacular like all my shows have been.” And he delivered on that promise with a concert that felt as conceptually unified as any of his albums.

Setlist

Speak to Me

Breathe

One of These Days

Time

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, Pt. 1

Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2

Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 3

SET TWO

Dogs

Pigs (Three Different Ones)

Money

Us and Them

Smell the Roses

Brain Damage

Eclipse

Vera

Bring the Boys Back Home

Comfortably Numb

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Roger Waters concert review: Us & Them Tour takes on Donald Trump, pulling no punches

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