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Waters returns to road for "Us + Them" tour to promote new album

Four years after his lengthy and record-breaking “The Wall Live” world tour ended, Pink Floyd bass guitarist, Roger Waters, finally returns to the road to promote his first solo album in 25 years, Is This The Life We Really Want?

This tour, known as the “Us + Them” tour, also comes on the heels of his Pink Floyd bandmate David Gilmour finishing his world tour for his latest album, Rattle That Lock.

On Sept. 11, the tour arrived for a four-night stint in New York City, with two shows at the Barclays Center and another two at the Nassau Coliseum.

Compared to his last two tours, both of which featured Waters performing a Pink Floyd album in its entirety, this tour features a “greatest hits” approach when it comes to the classic Pink Floyd songs.

A near complete performance of the band’s 1973 masterpiece The Dark Side of the Moon is still part of the set list. One classic album that is also given a fair amount of representation in the show is the band’s 1977 album, Animals.

After spending decades being largely ignored, a couple of tracks from the album Pigs (Three Different Ones) are performed in celebration of the album’s 40th anniversary. As far as recent material goes, five of the newest album’s 12 songs are featured in the set list.

While that is a decent amount of new songs to feature, it kind of pales in comparison to Gilmour’s tour, which featured most of the songs on his album, played in a near sequential order, in addition to Floyd classics in between the new tracks.

Compared to the more mellow approach preferred by Gilmour, there is a heavy emphasis on social commentary and political themes all throughout Waters’ show. In particular, he made it a point to criticize President Donald Trump in several of the songs.

“Pigs (Three Different Ones)” is almost rewritten to be an anti-Trump song, with several humiliating cartoons of him flashing on the screen. But for all the harsh reminders of the volatile political and social climate, Waters did include a somewhat heartwarming ending for the show.

Leading up to the moment the band takes the stage, a lengthy clip of a woman sitting in a desert looking toward the sea is broadcast. After the last encore, the show returns to this same clip, but ends with her reuniting with the little girl from the video “The Last Refugee.”

Throughout their existence as a touring band, Pink Floyd has more or less set the standard for large-scale rock shows. From a colorful light show to the elaborate animations made specifically for the band, many of the displays used by the band have been copied by other artists of various genres.

Wanting to top The Wall, Waters aimed to create a show that both used the latest in concert technology and retained the sensory overload that defined Pink Floyd.

For the first act, Waters simply used a giant rearview screen on stage, but following a 20-minute intermission, a wide scene unfolded in the middle of the arena. After four small smokestacks rose from the top, a building facade was projected onto it, making it look like the grimy Battersea power plant from the Animals cover, complete with a small, flying pig floating on top.

Fittingly, the trademark giant inflatable pig made its appearance, fittingly enough, during “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” keeping with the theme of the show.

All sorts of Trump paraphernalia is plastered on the balloon, complete with a giant painting of Trump saying “I won!” The grand finale of the show featured a giant laser prism with rainbow lights, mimicking the cover for The Dark Side of the Moon.

The band that Waters assembled for the tour, despite playing Pink Floyd songs for a majority of the show, managed to come off as a natural creative unit rather than a simple tribute band. One member in particular who stands out is Los Angeles-based guitarist Jonathan Wilson.

Aside from nailing all of Gilmour’s original guitar parts, he also does a good job singing Gilmour’s original lead vocals as well.

The first night in New York also happened to be the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The significance of the event was not lost on Waters, who dedicated the emotional three-song encore to not only the victims of the tragedy, but also to the first responders who have succumbed over the years to various 9/11-related illnesses.

While the political themes may be a bit off-putting for some audience members, the “Us + Them” tour brings about everything that fans have come to expect from a Waters tour, complete with a few memorable new songs thrown into the mix.

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