Words by John Goodridge
The air was thick with anticipation as the 8000, mainly middle-aged audience members took their seats at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre to hear legendary Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters present his critically acclaimed US+THEM show.
Projected onto the rear screen is an ultra-slow image of a girl sitting on a deserted sand dune overlooking a beach and the strains of “Speak to Me” begins. The opening songs “Breathe”, “One of These Days” and “Time” from the Dark Side of the Moon album are immediate crowd favorites. The surround sound and space visuals are literally out of this world.
Selections from the back catalogue continue with “Welcome to the Machine” from the Wish You Were Here album with some crowd sing-a-long participation.
“Déjà vu” from his latest album Is This The Life We Really Want was a reflective and poignant song ruminating on the possibility of being God. This was an emotionally charged moment in the show that showed Roger Waters is still a powerful songwriter.
After two more songs from the album it was back to “Wish You Were Here” followed by “Another Brick in the Wall” with local schoolchildren performing a delightful routine at the front of the stage.
After a short interval, the return to the auditorium was punctuated by flashing red lights and sirens descending from the ceiling. Was this part of the show or were we in imminent danger of a terrorist attack? As if by magic the lighting rig transfoms into the Battersea Power Station complete with flying pig and smoke from the chimney tops. As imagery is flashed around the room, the show takes a visit to the darkness of the Animals album with “Dogs” and “Pigs” – with not so subtle references to Donald Trump.
“Help, we are trapped in a dystopian nightmare” flies a banner from a window. The performers don pig masks and drink champagne. Trump quotes are flashed on screen, like, really smart ones. By this stage it is clear that the show is gaining no slowing down by any means and the visual and audio senses are going into overload. Psychedelic images flash on stage and above the crowd as a giant inflatable pig (Trump) ambles above the audience.
A segue into “Money” is more than perfect, it’s sublime. Roger Waters has long poked fun at the establishment and this is no time to stop. “Smell the Roses” was another song from his recent album with imagery of walls, ghettos, despair and wealth swimming in our minds.
The show was far from over; there were pyramid lasers and a floating sphere still to come for “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse”. There was a moment with the audience where Waters warned us the rising oligarchy of the Internet controllers such as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Google monitoring and controlling the information that we access.
As this was his penultimate show, he spent more time on some reflective moments, and introducing the performers, including those who played on the latest album, Dave Kilminster on vocals and Gus Seyffert on guitar.
“Mother, do you think they’ll drop the bomb?
Mother, do you think they’ll like this song?
Mother, do you think they’ll try to break my balls?”
As the strains of “Comfortably Numb” echo around us, the performers take their almost final bow to a standing ovation and the audience file out of the auditorium, sated and refreshed by possibly the best show of the year.