Tuesday, June 27, 2017 This Week's Paper

Roger Waters bashes Trump, thrills with timeless Pink Floyd classics

And you thought Kathy Griffin didn't like Donald Trump. Since the comedian started stirring up up controversy and shedding endorsements with her infamous bloody mask photo, rock legend and former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters has been roasting the Donald mercilessly with his new “Us + Them” tour. Among the show's most memorable moments Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome was a good 20 minutes of multimedia satire.

It's no shocker that the 73-year-old English rocker would wear his lefty political leanings on his sleeve. Waters sneaked a few George W. Bush digs into his “Dark Side of the Moon” set in 2006, after all; but those were subtle compared to the high-tech sledgehammer he took to our CEO-in-Chief during “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” Pink Floyd's 11-minute screed against oligarchs.
More than 18,000 fans looked on as blaring sirens and flashing, red lights heralded the song - which first appeared 40 years ago on Floyd's “Animals” album - and what promised to be a big reveal. Onstage, waiters in sheep masks poured champagne for their wealthy pig masters as translucent screens descended from the rafters, running the length of the arena floor.
Those were, at first, used to recreate the album cover's bleak factory aesthetic; but presently, fans found themselves mesmerized by a flurry of splashy, anti-Trump imagery, done in a style that recalled Andy Warhol's pop art or Terry Gilliam's cutout animation from “Monty Python's Flying Circus.”
The President was depicted in various forms, “charade” stamped across his snarling visage (as in “ha ha, charaaaaade you are.”) He was depicted as a man-pig, as a klansman, on the verge of chomping a hoagie-sized sex toy. His bestie, Vladmir Putin, even made an appearance, cradling a fussy baby Trump in his arms.
A mini-van-sized pig drone appeared midway through the song, “piggy bank of war” emblazoned on one side, Trump declaring “I won” on the other. It cruised around the arena as dozens of Trump's most infamous tweets and quotes flashed onscreen. (Oh yeah, he did say that creepy thing about his daughter.) In case that was all too subtle, “Trump is a pig” appeared in massive, neon letters as the song came to a close. This all went over well since this wasn't a Ted Nugent crowd.
The Trump-bashing inevitably continued with follow-up number “Money.” But the show's broader themes were about the growing chasm between haves and have-nots, and the fraudulent forces that turn people against one another; hence the decision to name this one after 1973's wistful “Us and Them.”
It's as timeless a rock song as has ever been written, its continued relevance underscored by imagery from Black Lives Matter protests and footage of drone strikes poignantly juxtaposed with closeups of children that are too often their casualties.
One of the show's most affecting moments was actually a twist on a gimmick Waters employed last time he was in town, in 2010 with his “The Wall” tour. The rocker recruited a group of local school children who marched out in matching prison jumpsuits for “The Happiest Days of Our Lives/ Another Brick in the Wall.”
From a distance, most appeared to be black or Latino, their gazes cast downward for several moments. Something stirred when Waters launched into Pink Floyd's most iconic refrain, though. “We don't need no education,” he sang. “We don't need no thought control.” Those kids brightened up, their joy palpable as they enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame, dancing on the T-Dome stage. By song's end, they'd ripped off their jumpsuits to reveal t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan: “resist,” a hopeful image for bleak times.
Waters' band was phenomenal throughout the two-hour set. Singer-guitarist Dave Kilminster notably did a solid David Gilmour impression, singing lead on “Breathe” and nailing some of Floyd's most iconic solos; and backup singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig were a blast as to watch, adorned in matching white wigs as they turned the vocal solo from “The Great Gig in the Sky” into a jazzy, back-and-forth duet.
Waters also notably performed a few cuts from his first album in 24 years, “Is This the Life We Really Want?” Standouts included “Smell the Roses,” with a groove that vaguely recalls “Wish You Were Here's” “Have a Cigar,” and the dreamy, heart-rending “Last Refugee.” With Pink Floyd, Waters created some of the most potent and original music of the rock era; and half a century into his run he still has something to say.

Roger Waters set list: “Breathe,” “One of These Days,” “Time/Breathe (Reprise)," “The Great Gig in the Sky,” “Welcome to the Machine,” “When We Were Young,” “Déjá Vu,” “The Last Refugee,” “Picture That,” “Wish You Were Here,” “The Happiest Days of Our Lives,” “Another Brick in the Wall” “Dogs,” “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” “Money,” “Us  and Them,” “Smell the Roses,” “Brain Damage,” “Eclipse,” “Vera,” “Bring the Boys Back Home,” “Comfortably Numb”