1. “Please turn off your cell phone as a courtesy to the people around you.
2. “If you’re here because you like Pink Floyd but you can’t stand Roger Waters’ politics, fuck off to the bar.
That’s the tone that powered the night. Yes, Waters and his band played some of Pink Floyd’s greatest hits alongside some of Waters’ most breathtaking originals, and, yes, they played them all beautifully. And, yes, the visuals, which we’ll discuss in a moment, were stunning.
But after two years of tour delays stemming from a global pandemic and an endless string of controversial political headlines from around the world, “This Is Not a Drill” is a direct response to everything that’s gone wrong in recent years. And if you ask Roger Waters — the creative who wrote through the pained anguish within Wish You Were Here, penned the Orwellian tribute of Animals, and developed the landmark introspective concept album The Wall — there’s plenty to be upset about.
Throughout the course of his “This Is Not a Drill Tour” opener, Waters addressed everything from abortion rights to transphobia to America’s rampant and storied war crimes. If awareness sparks emotion, Waters is pissed.
The live show format is perfect for Waters and his band. Just as Pink Floyd built a reputation for elaborate and immersive live performances, Waters and his crew have developed a uniquely memorable experience. Relying heavily on an enormous cross-shaped divider capable of splitting the multi-directional stage into four different panels, the crew leveraged 12 different surfaces for projected images.
It’s those projections that take the “This Is Not A Drill” show from good to great, allowing viewers to step deeper than ever into the psyche of the primary songwriting force from Pink Floyd’s golden age. The opener, Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” was reimagined as a dark funeral dirge backed by a city wasteland that’s long been lost and forgotten. During “Another Brick in the Wall,” the second song, violent demands for conformity flashed in enormous red and white letters.
In the third song, the full force of Waters’ political vitriol roared to the surface. While the scathing lyrics of “The Powers That Be” rang through the arena, the projections showed clips of police brutality while listing off many of the most internationally reported minority deaths in recent few years, including Pittsburgh’s Antwon Rose, Jr., the 17-year-old fatally shot by police in 2018.
During the next song, “The Bravery of Being Out of Range,” the projections moved systematically through each US presidential administration since Ronald Reagan, carefully outlining each individual’s own heinous war crimes. Waters may be a little older, and he might need a little more time to catch his breath between songs, but he’s still fighting against the same institutions and deep-rooted issues he’s railed against since the 1970s.