Back in 2013, I ended up at my first Roger Waters show after a good friend of mine asked me to go see the Pink Floyd co-founder perform in a football stadium in Philadelphia. Though at the time I would’ve described myself as only a casual Pink Floyd fan — so much so, that I remember specifically thinking that I didn’t even know which songs were on The Wall except for “Another Brick in the Wall” and “Comfortably Numb” — I like those songs, and my friend paid for the ticket, so I went. But attending that show turned me into a rabid Roger Waters fan.
On that tour, Waters was playing the The Wall his former band Pink Floyd’s monumental tour de force, and the fourth highest-selling album of all-time. The moment it changed for me came mid-show, when, after openly weeping in the middle of Citizens Bank Park during “Goodbye Blue Sky,” a song I’d never heard before that day, I looked around and noticed a large percentage of the other 50,000+ people in the stadium were weeping too. The Wall and its message of self-reclamation from the forces of evil continue to resonate deeply with a huge number of people even thirty-five years after its release — enough people to fill a baseball stadium.
Waters opened The Wall show the same way the album starts, a Nazi-like figurehead taunts the audience with a chilling opening line, “So you thought you might like to go to the show?” After that, he crashed a plane into the 400-foot wall on stage. The tickets were probably very expensive; the show was very much a spectacle. But there was more theatrics and political statements afoot than just what he did onstage. One of the first thing I noticed upon entering the stadium that night is that many of the advertisements, which usually dominate the field of vision in the ballpark, were covered in black cloth. It was Roger Waters’ stadium for the night.
If you haven’t kept up with the world of Pink Floyd over the past three decades, you may not know that Roger Waters and co-bandleader David Gilmour hate each other. Apart from the occasional cancer benefit or Live 8-style event a full-scale Pink Floyd reunion is unlikely. And, if you haven’t kept up with Roger Waters’ solo career, he mounts over-the-top audio/visual versions of Pink Floyd albums like The Wall and a similarly sensory overloaded version of Dark Side Of The Moon anyway.
While he may be repackaging old material, Waters has doubled down on every single left-leaning anarchist political belief that ever seeped its way into a Pink Floyd song. The performance of “Goodbye Blue Sky” back in ‘13 featured bomber planes on a giant LED screen dropping McDonald’s logos, Stars of David, Crucifixes and Shell Oil logos from bomber planes. To recap: Roger Waters played a song about the world ending due to war and environmental despair while a bomber plane dropped bomb/crucifixes in front of 50,000 people in a in Philly stadium and made everyone weep. Roger Waters doesn’t f*ck around.