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Roger Waters - Music Heals concert reports Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Friday, 30 October 2015

Roger Waters - Music Heals Benefit concert, October 16 2015, Washington DCOn Friday October 16th, Roger Waters participated in this year's Music Heals benefit concert in aid of MusiCorps. Joining Roger was Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan, as well as Tom Morello, GE Smith, and the MusiCorps Band.

The event raises money for MusiCorps - a charity supporting injured service men and women and their families. MusiCorps Band is made up of injured service members who have learned, and in some cases relearned, how to play instruments through the charity.

The concert was held at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington DC, a venue which seats around 3,700. Roger has supported MusiCorps for a number of years and served as a mentor to members of the MusiCorps Band, playing with the veterans at the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC and encouraging their love of music as part of the rehabilitation process.

Some Brain Damage visitors were fortunate enough to be in attendance at what sounds like a great show, and their show reports are shown below. At the foot of their reports is the set list in full...

A great one-off show. Roger opened the show with his first public performance of When The Tigers Broke Free! A day or two beforehand Roger made an appearance on one of the local TV news programs to explain and promote this event. The concert raised money to support Musicorps, an organization that provides musical support to wounded soldiers during their recovery. The band was made up of a number of these soldiers from Walter Reed military hospital. They have learned or re-learned to play music as part of their treatment. These guys can really play! Short video interviews were shown between songs where each soldier told his very moving story of injury, treatment and recovery.

In addition to Roger Waters and the Musicorps Band soldiers, guest performers included Tom Morello, Billy Corgan, J.W. Cortes, GE Smith, Jake Clemons, and Mary Lankford. There were also about half a dozen members of the National Symphony on stage for several songs. Roger was in great humor and seemed to be really enjoying himself. He even stopped and restarted a song when he wasn't happy with the tempo. The house was packed with very few empty seats.

You can find a complete setlist elsewhere, but I would say that it was about two-thirds Pink Floyd material, one of Roger's unreleased solo songs, Crystal Clear Brooks, and several standards such as Lean On Me.

One of the wounded soldiers was an awesome guitar player. He handled many of the Gilmour solos beautifully. This was doubly impressive since he had lost both legs and his right elbow. With one elbow fused, you might expect it would be hard to play guitar, but this guy had it all figured out which really inspired me. There was a large video screen just above the stage filled with images from 4 or 5 cameras setup around the venue. All the live images were made black and white for effect. There was a large lighting setup but the effects were kept pretty simple, a few color washes here and there, but not much more. The sound was excellent. I saw at least 2 big semi-trucks parked outside with the familiar red cabs that followed Roger on his Wall tour. I was surprised that I did not see any merchandise for sale. I think some t-shirts and programs would have been nice and also could have raised additional funds for the charity.

Roger closed the show with a rousing rendition of Another Brick Part 2 and then told the crowd that he was going skip the part where the band leaves the stage and instead proceed directly with the encore. This was Comfortably Numb with Billy Corgan on guest vocals followed by the Bob Dylan song Forever Young. I hope this was recorded for future video release, but if not, you can find a few clips from the show on YouTube. I'd love to see Roger do another one of these in the future, maybe even a mini tour. Who knows...

My only problem over the years with Roger Waters doing Pink Floyd songs solo is that he would sing songs like "Money","Time", and "Wish You Were Here" that he didn't originally sing. However, this show was a benefit for MusiCorps (the wounded warrior band), and since they were the band for the night (along with G.E. Smith, Roger's touring guitarist for a number of years), he had other vocalists to lean on.

And that was evident right away as vocalist Tim Donley sang lead on the first ever live performance of "When The Tigers Broke Free" (from The Wall film). After Donley again sang lead on Buddy Miller's "Wide River To Cross", Roger finally stepped to the mic to sing "Mother" to an enthusiastic reception.

Next, actor and singer (and vet) J.W. Cortés came from the line of backing vocalists to sing classic soul songs "Lean On Me" and "Change Is Gonna Come". But the Pink Floyd songs were not finished, as Donley returned to sing lead on "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)", guitarist Greg Galeazzi did a stunning version of David Gilmour's solos, and they were also joined by Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello on guitar and the E Street Band's (and Clarence's nephew) Jake Clemons on sax. Galeazzi took vocal duty next for "Money", then Morello took over for a blistering cover of Springsteen's "The Ghost Of Tom Joad".

After intermission, Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins joined the band for a moving version of "Wish You Were Here", then rocked through "Brain Damage/Eclipse" as the crowd really got into it.

A string quintet from the National Symphony Orchestra came out (and stayed the rest of the night) as Roger took the microphone again for his only solo song of the night, the new "Crystal Clear Brooks". He stopped it because the quintet wasn't in time and had to conduct them, but when he had a guitar problem when beginning "Goodbye Blue Sky", quipped "maybe it's me!" to laughter.

Sheryl Crow had beenscheduled to come but was unavailable, so she prerecorded a video of her and Tim Donley performing Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind" and the rest of the band played along to it. Roger returned to "The Wall" for "Is There Anybody Out There?" and "Nobody Home", then Donley took a turn with Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". After Roger got the crowd going with "Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2", Billy Corgan came out again to duet with Tim Donley on Gilmour's part in "Comfortably Numb", and Billy Corgan and Tom Morello traded verses on the finale of Dylan's "Forever Young".

Set 1:
When the Tigers Broke Free (Tim Donley vocals; acoustic - performed live for the first time ever)
Wide River to Cross (Buddy Miller cover) (Tim Donley vocals)
Mother (with Pigs On The Wing teasing)
Lean On Me (Bill Withers cover) (J.W. Cortés vocals)
A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke cover) (J.W. Cortés vocals)
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (with Tom Morello) (Tim Donley vocals)
Money (with Tom Morello) (Greg Galeazzi vocals)
The Ghost of Tom Joad (Bruce Springsteen cover) (with Tom Morello)

Set 2:
Wish You Were Here (with Billy Corgan)
Brain Damage (with Billy Corgan)
Eclipse (with Billy Corgan)
Crystal Clear Brooks
Goodbye Blue Sky
Blowin' in the Wind (Bob Dylan cover) (with Sheryl Crow) (Sheryl's and Tim Donley's vocals were prerecorded and shown while band played along)
Is There Anybody Out There?
Nobody Home
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover) (Tim Donley vocals)
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2
Comfortably Numb (with Billy Corgan) (Roger and Tim Donley vocals)
Forever Young (Bob Dylan cover) (with Billy Corgan) (Billy and Tom Morrello vocals)

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