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Roger Waters: Us + Them Production Rehearsal, Meadowlands, May 21, 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Elliot Tayman & Ed Lopez-Reyes   
Monday, 22 May 2017
Roger Waters - Meadowlands, 21st May 2017 ticket

With the blessings and help of Roger's camp, the following is a look at the first proper show - a 'dress' or final production, rehearsal, in front of a reasonable audience - of the Us + Them tour which starts on May 26th. As the review (by BD's Elliot Tayman and Ed Lopez-Reyes) goes on, there are pictures, as well as the set list performed during the show at the foot of the page. Needless to say, if you want to keep away from hearing such things, do not read further...

Last evening (May 21st) Roger Waters, just five days away from embarking on his massive North American Us + Them concert tour, staged a production rehearsal concert at the Meadowlands Arena located at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. This venue, formerly known as the Brendan Byrne Arena, Continental Airlines Arena, and Izod Center, has capacity for around 19,000. This concert was performed in front of a smaller audience of some 1,000 invited guests and radio station contest winners. Some of you Brain Damage readers might recall that Waters, back in September 2010, staged a similar rehearsal concert prior to the start of his massive 4-year worldwide Wall concert tour – and it took place inside this same venue.

The concert was set to commence at 5:45PM EST sharp. I made arrangements to meet-up with fellow Brain Damage correspondent Ed Lopez-Reyes. After locating each other, proper introductions followed. Until last evening, he and I had never met before. Ed was accompanied by his wife Marie. After chatting for a few minutes, we made our way over to the line of people which had begun to form outside of the arena's lobby entrance. Adjacent to the entrance was a large white inflatable pig with graphics on it promoting Waters' forthcoming album Is This The Life We Really Want? Within a short time the doors had opened and the line began to move. We were minutes away from picking up our tickets at the Will Call window.

Now let's turn things over to Ed who'll take you through the first half of the concert...

The majority of those in last night's small audience are invested enough in Pink Floyd and Waters' endeavours to be aware of the substantial band changes Waters has made recently: along with the question of how Waters could match a spectacle like The Wall Live, many were curious how this new band would sound – particularly since these new musicians are replacing a team of well-known veterans that included Graham Broad, members of the band Venice, Robbie Wyckoff, G.E. Smith, Harry Waters, Snowy White, and Jon Joyce. The answer: Us + Them manages a robust match to The Wall Live and is a step forward and upward in terms of creativity, visual and musical impact, and in terms of the band’s delivery. Audiences should not expect The Wall Live. But they can also cast expectations for a diminished work aside. In addition, the inclusion of tracks from Waters' upcoming Is This The Life We Really Want? album gives the set (should they stick to the production rehearsal version) a dimension that is difficult to deliver in a performance as rigid as The Wall Live.

Guitarist Dave Kilminster and keyboardist and guitarist Jon Carin remain in the band – and there is a sense their experience with The Wall Live and other Waters tours have bestowed them with the presence and role of musical pillars for the band. There is something particularly distinguishable about each a solo Waters rendition and a solo David Gilmour rendition of a Pink Floyd song: both will feature distinct traits and characteristics that remind you why these two artists were such a great team at one point but they also project the distinct personalities of these individuals. Carin deserves a great deal of credit for the way in which he has managed to give a unique hue to each Waters' and Gilmour's bands, giving full expression to these elements and navigating the complex interpretations each of the two musicians has given any particular Pink Floyd piece over so many years. Kilminster deserves credit for giving Waters' guitar sound a shape of its own – not so much borrowing from all the great guitarists who have worked with Waters over his entire musical career but honouring their work and their musical contributions through the personality of his own sound and style. 

Guitarists Gus Seyffert and Jonathan Wilson complete the new guitar team, with keyboardist Drew Erickson providing additional keyboard work in tandem with Carin. On backing vocals (and some leads), Jessica Wolfe and Holly Laessig (of the band Lucius) and drummer Joey Waronker complete the new team. Ian Ritchie returns from previous Waters tours but with the vibe, to some extent, of another new team member: given the scale of audiences during, and the time-frame of The Wall Live tour, he is a new face to many even if for most of those at Meadowlands he was a familiar one.

This new band sustains the professionalism of Waters' previous band. The synergy is very strong and their musicianship is excellent. During The Wall Live tour, it was interesting to observe Robbie Wyckoff's own evolution: The Wall Live required much of him and there was a distinct musical personality by the end of that tour that was more subtle in the beginning. Waters' new band will have the opportunity to develop that presence too. Their foundation – that synergy and musicianship – is strong enough to nurture that. The last band was a mix of giants and younger voices, a mix that gave the production a disposition that extended beyond Waters and gave powerful legitimacy to their rendition of The Wall. On this Us + Them tour, there is ample space for musical development and to observe how the chemistry between these great musicians and Waters unfolds; Kilminster and Carin are afforded a unique opportunity to shape that.

Waters' first set ran through a number of Pink Floyd classics sprinkled with a handful of new tracks. This worked surprisingly well, which is a testament to the strength of the work Waters is about to release in Is This The Life We Really Want? There was no low point: the energy was consistent, the visuals and the band's sound and performance perfect, and the new tracks were natural elements of a set that never disappointed.

Roger Waters - Meadowlands, 21st May 2017; photo copyright Kate Izor Roger Waters - Meadowlands, 21st May 2017; photo copyright Kate Izor
Roger Waters - Meadowlands, 21st May 2017; photo copyright Kate Izor Roger Waters - Meadowlands, 21st May 2017; photo copyright Kate Izor
Roger Waters - Meadowlands, 21st May 2017; photo copyright Kate Izor Roger Waters - Meadowlands, 21st May 2017; photo copyright Kate Izor

Now let's return the helm to Elliot who’ll give a rundown of what transpired during the second half of the show. 

After the scheduled 30-minute intermission, the house lights were turned off, and the band re-took the stage. With all-new videos created especially for this tour, and over-the-audience props and effects to coincide with tracks played from Pink Floyd's album Animals, the band broke into Dogs to begin the second half of the concert. It was performed beautifully and with such vitality. Hanging directly over the audience from rigging cables was a long suspended replica of Battersea Power Station which stretched nearly from one end of the audience on the floor to the other. With functioning smoke stacks that seemed to produce steam, a pink pig was visible flying near one of the rear stacks. Keeping with the Animals theme, the band followed-up with an exceedingly powerful version of Pigs  (Three Different Ones). This was especially moving for me because I was fortunate to have seen Pink Floyd perform live three times on the historic 1977 tour, a concert tour which would alter Pink Floyd's direction for years to come. It was during this song that an all-new remote controlled inflatable flying pig made its appearance over the audience. So, those fans hoping to see the return of yet another touring pig were not disappointed.

Returning to The Dark Side Of The Moon album, the band selected Us And Them as their next song. Always a fan favourite and a song no one ever grows tired of hearing. Simultaneously projected onto the large and very wide video screen located behind the band, was the same original concert video Pink Floyd first used in 1974 to accompany this song. Next the band moved on to Smell The Roses, one of the new songs from Waters' forthcoming album, before heading back into older material, taking the audience through to the end of the show.

As part of this, Eclipse was included, and brought in an incredible new bit of staging. Completely new laser beams were unveiled to the audience. A series of white lined laser beams formed the outline of a triangular-shaped prism. The six colours of the spectrum were presented at the top of the triangle and shown  against the smoke which emanated from a small dry ice machine.  

The finale brought the audience to their feet. A truly spectacular way to close-out a very special concert. Waters then took to the microphone and thanked his crew for the hard work they’ve been doing over the last six weeks in preparation for the start of the tour. Waters then introduced his band members. To a round of thunderous applause, the band departed the stage. 

This was a rich and varied set. If there was one thing missing but that would seem very hard to fit, it would be a number of tracks from any of Waters' previous solo albums – and particularly from Amused to Death, which saw a spectacular reissue in 2015 (not too long ago) and which fuelled some of his set choices at the Newport Folk Festival that year.

Whilst the majority of the audience weren't exactly impartial observers, the reaction to the show has been extremely strong - indeed, one might wonder if the arena held some of the tougher people to impress, with an extra-sharp eye on how the show progressed and was presented. Roger and his team seem to be going from strength to strength, and the Us + Them tour looks like it will astound and delight in equal measure. For those holding out on whether to purchase tickets, I think it safe to say you might not want to wait too much longer before you secure yours.

We'd like to express our sincerest thanks to the RogerWaters.com team, as well as to Fran DeFeo, and to Kate Izor. The pictures above are all courtesy of, and copyright, Kate Izor.

Just before we see the setlist, here's a video from this rehearsal, from Roger's Facebook page:

SET LIST - highlight the following with your mouse to read...
First half: Speak to Me, Breathe, One of These Days, Time, Breathe (Reprise), The Great Gig in the Sky, Welcome to the Machine, Deja Vu, The Last Refugee, Picture That, Wish You Were Here, The Happiest Days of Our Lives, Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)
Second half: Dogs, Pigs (Three Different Ones), Money, Us And Them, Smell The Roses, Brain Damage, Eclipse, Vera, Bring The Boys Back Home.
Encore: Comfortably Numb.

Finally, with thanks to Thomas Pardo here are a couple of shots from earlier in the rehearsals...

Roger Waters - Meadowlands rehearsal, 2017 Roger Waters - Meadowlands rehearsal, 2017

 

TICKETING INFORMATION:
Tickets for Roger's North American concerts are now on sale, through Ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster.ca, and AXS.com. VIP packages for most of the shows are now available. Using our links also helps toward the ongoing running costs of this site, and is appreciated!

Details of each concert venue and show, and how to get tickets, are on the normal show pages which are now in place - go to the Roger Waters 2017 Tour zone and select the show you are interested in.

 
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