Roger Waters blasts 'pig' Trump on visually spectacular new concert tour (PHOTOS)

Saturday, 12 August 2017, 07:06:03 AM. A lot of hits, a lot of political commentary from the Pink Floyd veteran

PHILADELPHIA -- The accepted rock concert vernacular is "hey, we're going to see" band XYZ. 

But technically, you're really paying to hear them, aren't you? It's ultimately about the music -- chances are you'll leave the arena remembering more clearly how Bruce Springsteen or Guns N' Roses sounded or the songs they played, as opposed to what they were wearing or the images blasted on the screen behind them. 

Yet for the better part of 50 years fans worldwide have paid to see Pink Floyd, pioneers of the psycho-grandiose rock spectacular. Even when the Brits were mere lions of the '60s U.K. underground -- a full seven albums before "Dark Side of the Moon" would break them in the states -- they flashed rudimentary lights with colored filters to give club crowds more than just the music. 

Today the venerable group's aesthetic lives on with bassist/co-founder/creative director Roger Waters, whose new Us + Them arena tour certainly upholds Pink Floyd's penchant for pageantry. 

At Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia Wednesday night, Waters' bombastic, politically objecting two-and-a-half-hour performance included: 

- An arena-length warehouse, constructed of retracting screens and inflatable smokestacks to mimic Floyd's iconic "Animals" album cover. The entity remained suspended over the audience for the LP's opuses "Dogs" and "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" -- two songs totaling a full 30-minute jam. 

- During "Dogs" Waters and his eight-piece band donned pig masks and sat around a dining room table, drinking champagne served by a man in a sheep mask. Greed and opulence appeared to be the theme. 

- "Pigs" was wholly dedicated to throttling President Trump: fake videos of Trump vomiting; videos of Trump's head on a pig; Trump's head on a baby, being cradled by Russian President Putin; a large, inflatable swine -- literally a flying pig -- with Trump's face on the side floated over the audience, painted with phrases "Welcome to the Machine" and "Piggy Bank of War."

The song ended with all-caps TRUMP IS A PIG plastered on the stories-high screen behind the band. The crowd roared with approval. From a 73-year-old prog-rock stalwart, this might have been the most overtly anti-authority punkish display I've ever seen. 

- A dozen children in orange prison jumpsuits marched in time to "Another Brick in the Wall," only to rip off their costumes and reveal black "RESIST" t-shirts. The audience cheered mightily.  

- For the set's finisher (and revered "Dark Side" album closers) "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse," a 3-D laser prism beamed over the awe-struck arena with colorful light spectrum passing through it from the roof, masterfully recreating one of rock's most iconic album covers. 

If you're attending Waters' wild show at Prudential Center in Newark Sept. 7, this is what you'll see. 

The music -- a mere afterthought all things considered -- was adequately dynamic; many of David Gilmour's famed vocal parts were performed not by Waters but by smoother-voiced guitarist Jonathan Wilson, who was a fine fill-in on "Breathe" and "Time." But the night's true vocal highlight came with "The Great Big in the Sky," where backup singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig -- best known as leaders of the Brooklyn indie-pop group Lucius -- unleashed a titanic performance, wailing in each other's faces. 

Waters was quick to give up the spotlight, more keen on pounding his bass with drama and fury, and revving up the crowd of 15,000. The sinewy prog-rock vet played a handful of tunes from his latest solo LP "Is This The Life We Really Want?" -- his first studio rock album in 25 years. The songs were fine, and sonically in line with the Pink Floyd sound, though many stairways still filled with fans headed for the bars and bathrooms. 

Though this night was centered far more on reliving the Pink Floyd hits and laying waste to Trump. On both accounts the show was successful. 

In a recent interview with CNN, Waters said to those preferring escapism to political commentary at a concert: "go see Katy Perry." 

Frankly, I think I'd rather see this daring extravaganza. 

Roger Waters' set list

Aug. 9, 2017 - Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia 

  • "Breathe"
  • "One of These Days"
  • "Time"
  • "The Great Gig in the Sky"
  • "Welcome to the Machine"
  • "When We Were Young" (Roger Waters song)
  • "Deja Vu" (Roger Waters song)
  • "The Last Refugee" (Roger Waters song)
  • "Picture That" (Roger Waters song)
  • "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 2:
  • "Dogs"
  • "Pigs (Three Different Ones)"
  • "Money"
  • "Us and Them"
  • "Smell the Roses" (Roger Waters song)
  • "Brain Damage"
  • "Eclipse"
  • Encore:
  • "Vera"
  • "Bring the Boys Back Home"
  • "Comfortably Numb"

Bobby Olivier may be reached at bolivier@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BobbyOlivier and Facebook. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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