Most rock stars locate their gigs by donning a sports team jersey or by dissipating the crowd the night before in Milwaukee. Not Roger Waters.
The Pink Floyd bandleader took a very different approach to put a local spin on Saturday night’s This Is Not a Drill Tour stop at Target Center, a stunt that tells you a lot about what you need to know about the performance perhaps polarizing but ultimately stunning.
After opening with two of his former band’s best-known tracks, “Comfortably Numb” and “Happiest Days of Our Lives/Another Brick in the Wall” – two of the most well-known rock songs of all time, really – the 78 years-old Englishman embarked on a montage of solo tracks in which he cranked up his now well-documented political rhetoric to 11. Yeah, uh oh.
During the 1992 piano song “The Bravery of Being Out of Range”, he used the impressive giant cross-shaped video screen on the round stage to list the war crimes he accused all the presidents of. Americans of committing since Ronald Reagan (Trump and Obama have both been called out for drone attacks; for Biden, the screens simply read, “I’m just getting started.”)
As Waters sang the terse lines of another 1992 holdover, “The Powers That Be,” his screens ticked off the murders he said police had committed in cities around the world alongside the alleged crimes of their victims. And that’s where Minneapolis and St. Paul got some special treatment.
Alongside the names of George Floyd and Philando Castile, Waters referred to their crimes as: “Being black.”
Such rhetoric is a major reason why the upper level of the Minneapolis basketball arena was half empty, compared to the packed houses of the Xcel Energy Center for Waters last two times in town at the Xcel Energy Center. in 2010 and 2017. His recent bashing of Israel and the Weeknd in the press probably hurt too; one probably more than the other.
Musically speaking, however, the nearly 11,000 fans in attendance on Saturday were actually treated to the most riveting and polished of these three most recent performances.
After twice postponing his tour since 2020 due to COVID – he thanked “everyone who held onto their ticket for two years” – Waters seemed well-prepared, extra-determined and literally pumped to unleash the show on Twin fans. Cities. The guy looked muscular and downright svelte for his age.
He came with a well-built group, too. There were no star players like Lucius, the vocal duo who sang backup on their 2017 journey. However, they did bring in a former Twin Cities resident: drummer Joey Waronker (Beck, REM).
The clearly expert team brought old songs to life with new energy. Some of the biggest numbers of the night, in fact, were far from numbers.
“Comfortably Numb” has been heavily redone into a more subdued, almost Leonard Cohen-esque dirge. “Wish You Were Here” – accompanied by a sweet tribute to the late Floyd singer Syd Barrett on screens – went more twang with pedal steel guitar and a slower, almost waltz-like tempo.
The biggest treat for former Floyd fans was to hear “Wish You Were Here” sandwiched between “Have a Cigar” and “Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Pts. VI-IX” – same order as they are arrived on side 2 of the “Wish You Were Here” album. Waters pulled off the same trick in the second half of the concert, playing the entire second side of “Dark Side of the Moon” in order.
With a few other more cult-loved Floyd nuggets also thrown in (“Sheep” from “Animals,” “Two Suns in the Sunset” from “The Final Cut”), Waters seemed to really enjoy serving treats like the ones to the fans this time around. of; you know, as long as he also has to give his opinion on the news.
It seemed like a better deal than having to attend a show filled with songs from a new album that no one wanted to hear, as is often the case with many other rock legends.
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