Before any of the music started, there was a public service announcement on the giant display screens that spanned the center of the TD Garden floor, to the effect that if one likes the music of Pink Floyd but dislikes the politics of Roger Waters, they can fuck off to the bar right now*. It’s hard to think of people intimately familiar with his work yet oblivious to the direction of his leanings, but in at the 2017 show at the Garden an entire row of MAGAts behind me got up and left in a huff when Trump was portrayed in a (much) less than positive light during “Pigs.” So, Roger was just trying to prevent butthurt before it flared to a painful level with some.
Those that were down with the impending raging against the machines were treated to a full spectrum view of Waters’ invective, and the thread from Animals through The Wall and The Final Cut and into his solo work show a clear hatred of injustice, warfare and fascism. Oppression and lack of agency is what riles Waters’ the most, and even as he edges toward his eight decade, he’s certainly got plenty of fight left in him. “The Powers That Be” shook off most of its vapid 80’s production values as the screen showed innocent people being killed government forces. The following song, “The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range” highlighted the war crimes of US presidents that are often shrugged off or even never even acknowledged. It started with Reagan’s comments about changing the world; I’m sure he felt it was for the better but countless of people would disagree, and it’s worth noting that while American citizens see ourselves as keeping world peace, in fact in the country’s history we’ve only not been at war for a shockingly small amount of time.
During the stretches of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” a la McCartney’s recent fond remembrance of John Lennon at Fenway, images and film clips of the late Syd Barrett were displayed across the screens, occasionally dotted with appearances of Richard Wright and Nick Mason. Save for a short clip of Gilmour playing guitar from the Live at Pompeii footage, he was noticeable absent. The other epic from Animals not played on the Us and Them tour closed out the first set, inverting the term “Sheeple” by showing the most prone to use that particular derogatory term aren’t the free thinkers they believe to be, instead typically placing their tongue firmly and frequently on the dirty soles of whatever autocratic leader they support.
The second set started with two other well-known numbers from The Wall, the 1-2 punch of “In The Flesh” into “Run Like Hell.” After a couple of a couple of reminiscent moments from 2017’s Is This The Life We Really Want? the focus shifted to one of the most famous rock records of all time, playing the entire second side of the record from “Money” into the gloriously uplifting closer of “Eclipse.” Abbey Road (rightfully so) gets a lot of accolades for its final side as a hugely important and creative montage, but Waters and company can claim equal status for this contribution.
* such sentiments were firmly in place, word for word, back in 2013.