Review of Roger Waters' Concert | Miles Vance
On August 18th, 2022, Roger Waters brought his “This is Not a Drill” tour to the PNC arena in Raleigh. Upon entering the arena, the audience was greeted by a mysterious cross-shaped wall of screens dividing the stage into four parts. From where I sat, I could only see Roger’s guitarist. A metro-like announcer informed us that the show was about to begin, with the warning that if anyone in the audience “loves Pink Floyd but hates Roger’s politics”, they should “fuck off to the bar for a while”. After an opening performance of “Comfortably Numb”, the giant divider raised into the air and revealed Roger to the audience.
The warning about Roger’s politics proved itself to be accurate immediately, as the show felt like it was half-concert and half-political sermon. There were messages regarding police brutality, the occupation of Palestine, and the military industrial complex throughout the two-hour set. These were both flashed on the screens and embedded in Roger’s lyrics. Throughout the night, the performances of Pink Floyd tunes were supplemented by some of Roger’s solo work, including parts of a brand new song called “The Bar”, that Roger promised to turn into a concept album. Some memorable verses from this song depict a woman from Standing Rock, North Dakota, comparing her life and struggles to the work of the indigenous rights protestors who have worked tirelessly to stop the construction of pipelines in the area. The audience cheered on most of Roger’s politics, giving especially thunderous rounds of applause when a message appeared on screen showing each of the past seven presidents along with a tally of innocent people killed by American military action. A perhaps less savory moment came when he vaguely skirted around the Russian invasion of Ukraine, while accusing the United States of accelerating the conflict and demonizing Russia.
As for the actual musical performance, I was pleasantly surprised by Roger’s vocal and musical ability at the age of 78. In the song “Sheep” from “Animals”, Roger must hold very long sustained notes, and did so admirably. Compared to 81-year-old Bob Dylan’s recent performance in Greensboro, you’d think that Roger was 30 years younger. His band was also firing on all cylinders, with note-for-note perfect guitar solos, dynamic saxophone, and groovy drums. The sound and lighting done by the crew was also top notch, and at the show’s finale, a series of lasers created six triangles reminiscent of the prism on “The Dark Side of the Moon” while “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse” blared.
Throughout the show, Roger seemed grateful and happy to be performing, an attitude he famously does not always hold. He thanked the audience multiple times and told fans “I love you all too” in response to screams of adoration from the front rows. A brief encore saw Roger play another section of “The Bar” and “Two Suns in the Sunset”, before ending the show, as always, with “Outside the Wall”. The band and Roger waltzed around the stage and out of the arena, with a live video feed on the screens showing Roger with a wide smile on his face as he waved goodnight.