Roger Waters

Royal Arena, Copenhagen - 2018

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

As Roger Waters was out on his Us+Them tour, he stopped by Denmark no less than three times! Two of these, 10 and 11 of August, were in Royal Arena, Copenhagen - as you’d imagine, we were there, like flies on honey! That sentence could have gone a different way, but it would have been a highly unfair comparison.
Anyway, no support accompanied the show, so when we arrived, it was straight to the main event, which was very nice.

The show began nearly before we’d gotten to our seats, with a video production of a lady at a beach, and the sound of wind and waves - it seemed cold, like autumn perhaps, yet very quiet and lonesome. No one else came by, even though the video went on for a long time. A very long time. It sent us into a nearly meditative state. And then it changed.
We were now watching a flying sphere with a mirror surface - being who I am, my mind went straight to the Phantasm films of course, although I doubt very highly this was what the creator of this video production had in mind when he or she did it.
The sphere flew across water, across land, over cities and through streets, all the while being accompanied by the introductory sound of Speak To Me, which (followed by shouts and applause) continued straight over to Breathe as the band had now entered the stage.

I could easily go on mentioning blow by blow what happened in each and every song, as there was always something going on, without ever feeling rushed however, but I won’t. It’d take a lot of time, and somehow I doubt it’d translate very well to mere words. Worth mentioning though, were the all female vocalized parts of the Breathe (Reprise) and the subsequent The Great Gig In The Sky, performed with a goosebump inducing effect by Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig (both from the band Lucius, and both performing on several songs on Waters’ latest solo album, Is This The Life We Really Want?), and a chilling Welcome To The Machine, with it’s uncanny cartoon video running on the backdrop while the song was playing.
The video production alternated between original videos like above, images and sequences created for the tour, and simple filming of the musicians, in which the mirror sphere showed up once in a while as a recurring theme. To start off with, this was mostly the extent of the visual effects and aids however, and while beautiful to behold, it felt a bit tame considering the larger than life productions Roger Waters have given us in the past.

This all changed after the midway break however. Here, a huge factory-like building (the Battersea power station) was lowered from the ceiling, and a little piggy rose above it. It went from the stage straight down the middle of the room, and ended a short way away from the tribune in the back - how this affected the sight of those seated below it on the floor, or behind it on the tribune I have no idea, but from my vantage point off to one side, the effect was overwhelming! Through the second part of the set, different video productions played on the backdrop, would also be reflected on the walls of the building, and later still, the mirror sphere would appear as a huge balloon, circling the building on its way flying around the room.
What really took my breath away though, was the breathtaking laser display of a pyramid prism and light going in and out of it during Eclipse - having never had the privilege of watching one of Roger Waters’ full The Dark Side Of The Moon shows, the beauty of seeing this in the flesh this took me completely by surprise.
On a smaller scale, yet still interesting in its own way, was the dinner party sketch played out for us, where the musicians had different animal masks on, and Waters’ as the maître d’hôtel wore a pig’s mask.
The mirror sphere wasn’t the only red thread of the show - the story of the lady on the beach was also revisited from time to time, developed and deepend, and brought to a fulfilling conclusion at the end of the show. No spoilers.

Musically, the Us+Them tour gave us a mixed setlist, consisting of several Pink Floyd hit songs from their most famous albums, as well as a few Roger Waters solo songs from the Is This The Life We Really Want? album from 2017, his first solo studio album since 1992’s Amused To Death.
Having only seen full album shows before, I was wondering how this more regular approach to the setlist would work, but of course it turned out to work just fine. Admittedly, the solo work wasn’t anything I had heard before, but the transitions and overall journey through the evening felt seamless and well-constructed. Nothing beats the hits of course, where above mentioned Welcome To The Machine, and Brain Damage were some of my personal favourites. As mentioned in the beginning, Roger Waters played here two nights in a row, and while this review is based on the first night, I’d like to add that the setlist had one small difference between the two. When the encore songs came, the first to be played on the first evening was the solo song Broken Bones, whereas on the second night it was the Pink Floyd classic Mother.

Yes, the show was so good, I immediately procured a ticket for the second show after coming home from the first - they were both sold out, but luckily I found someone who couldn’t attend (their loss, although they had apparently also already been at a show earlier on the tour) - and that in itself should say all there is to say about the quality of this production.

Setlist:

Speak To Me (Pink Floyd song, intro)
Breathe (Pink Floyd cover)
One Of These Days (Pink Floyd cover)
Time (Pink Floyd cover)
Breathe (Reprise) (Pink Floyd cover)
The Great Gig In The Sky (Pink Floyd cover)
Welcome To The Machine (Pink Floyd cover)
Déjà Vu
The Last Refugee
Picture That
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd cover)
The Happiest Days Of Our Life (Pink Floyd cover)
Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 (Pink Floyd cover)
Another Brick In The Wall Part 3 (Pink Floyd cover)
Dogs (Pink Floyd cover)
Pigs (Three Different Ones) (Pink Floyd cover)
Money (Pink Floyd cover)
Us And Them (Pink Floyd cover)
Smell The Roses
Brain Damage (Pink Floyd cover)
Eclipse (Pink Floyd cover)
Broken Bones
Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd cover)

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