Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters revisited his musical legacy on the first of the final two North American shows of his Us + Them tour at Rogers Arena on Saturday night. The show was a dream for fans of the English progressive rock legend.
Focussing on the seminal albums Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and Animals, as well as his latest album, Is This The Life We Really Need?, the performance by Waters and his band was nothing short of spectacular.
To say that the production set the bar for other acts to match is understatement. The 74-year-old singer-songwriter proved the expansive creative vision that made the music of the band he co-helmed with, at first, the late Syd Barrett, and then guitarist David Gilmore matter so much to so many is still strong as ever. There was a sense of Waters giving fans the show they’ve waited for ever since his acrimonious and litigious parting with the rest of the members of Pink Floyd in 1985.
Since there is next to no likelihood of Waters and surviving members Gilmour and Nick Mason ever getting together again, hearing one of the originals play the songs that made the group superstars was a huge deal. Giving his all, Waters appeared to revel in the applause, as he smiled and sang along with the crowd, and laid down some heavy basslines.
Here are five highlights from the concert:
One of These Days: In a setlist that included 22 tunes, this instrumental from 1971s Meddle was an enormous surprise. Considered by the band to be one of the first songs to define the direction that its psychedelic rock was heading to as the 1960s moved into the ’70s, the age of arena rock and concept albums. It’s a screaming guitar workout with the one of the coolest bass riffs in rock.
The Flying Clocks in Time: The utterly spectacular sound was clear to everyone after the opening steel guitar in Breathe. But the depth of the surround sound wasn’t fully grasped until the different alarms went off in the lead into Time, and the giant screen filled with floating clocks to make Dali’s head explode.
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 & 3: Yes, Waters had done the Wall tour more than once, but it’s always a blast to see how the local school children recruited to appear on stage will perform. Arriving first as orange-suited prisoners of the totalitarian education system and then stripping off their bonds to become dancing resistance fighters singing along to the song’s iconic lyrics, it’s a moment of life-reaffirming energy in a dystopian world view.
Dogs and Pigs (Three Different Ones): Revisited 40 years after its initial release, Pink Floyd’s 10th album Animals is a searing indictment of capitalist politics, class divisions and anger. The band’s bleakest album includes some of its angriest lyrics, and featured the Battersea Power Station — complete with floating inflatable pig — as cover art. As the song cycle played out, a stadium-long image of the station became a banner board for images of war, statements of rebellion and, finally, a pretty crystal clear view of what Waters thinks of the new U.S. president.
Comfortably Numb: As noted before, Animals actually ends on a somewhat positive note of hope. By finishing his concert with this hit from the Wall, Waters appeared to be expressing exactly how much hope he holds for the future. Not much, if people don’t change their attitudes and get involved with spreading change and love.
Add in bleak new tunes such as The Last Refugee or Deja Vu, and one might surmise that Waters isn’t banking on success. That said, this event most certainly was a complete success. Although it had an uncomfortable sense of finality about it.
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Rogers Arena] is an indoor sports arena located at 800 Griffiths Way in the downtown area of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Opened in 1995, the arena was known as General Motors Place (GM Place) from its opening until July 6, 2010, when General Motors Canada ended its naming rights sponsorship and a new agreement for those rights was reached with Rogers Communications. Rogers Arena was built to replace Pacific Coliseum as Vancouver’s primary indoor sports facility and in part due to the National Basketball Association’s 1995 expansion into Canada, when Vancouver and Toronto were given expansion teams.
It is home to the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League and hosted the ice hockey events at the 2010 Winter Olympics. The name of the arena temporarily became Canada Hockey Place during the Olympics.
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