Concert Review with PHOTOS: Roger Waters

Photos by Megan Moss

Photos by Megan Moss

By Ben Doy

Artist: Roger Waters

Date / Venue: Wednesday January 24th, 2018: Spark Arena, Auckland

A Roger Waters concert is more than just a show. Quite frankly, it’s an experience.

Waters kicked off The Us + Them World Tour in the USA and Canada in May last year, but Auckland was lucky enough to host the first show of the 2018 leg. As the crowd piled in to the Spark Arena, we were greeted with the stage backdrop of a lady with her back to us on a giant screen, sitting at the beach and seemingly enjoying the natural surroundings.

You could feel the anticipation and luckily we didn’t have to wait long until Roger and the band took to the stage - starting things off in style with Speak To Me & Breath; taken from the classic Pink Floyd album ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. Straight away you could tell that the band were right on the money, and they had the classic Floyd tunes down to a tee. Waters appeared casual and relaxed, soaking up the atmosphere and perfectly playing the role of musical maestro.

‘Time’ kicks off to a backdrop of ticking clocks, accompanied by Waters hypnotic ticking bass guitar - and Dave Kilminster managed to get his guitar singing in perfect David Gilmour style! It was also refreshing to see that Waters is aware of his vocal limitations, and without any ego gave many of the lead vocals to Jonathan Wilson who was flawless. Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig showcassed their style and class, performing 'Great Gig In The Sky' with magnificent and breath taking gusto.

The brooding and building 'Welcome To The Machine’ slowly cranks up. With eerie animations on display in the background, Waters parades around the stage as the band plays, building up the crowd adulation and soaking in the moment.

We’re treated to a couple of Roger Waters originals; Déjà Vu, The Last Refugee and Picture That - all from his latest album ‘Is This the Life We Really Want?’.  Even though many in attendance were unfamiliar with the tracks, they fit the setlist really well and continued the flow seamlessly. No doubt there will be a few people from last night checking out the recording today.

But in a flash we were back to the Floyd, and what better way to do it than with ‘Wish You Were Here’? And of course the epic and possibly most well known song by the band ‘Another Brick In The Wall’. It was here that Waters was joined on stage by kids from the Auckland Variety Charity, dancing and singing in bright orange jumpsuits. Soon after the jumpsuits came off, displaying black t-shirts with the word ‘Resist’ written on them.

Both the band and audience were then given a break, a time for everyone to get refreshed and prepare ourselves for set two.

A replica of the Battersea Power Station from Pink Floyd’s Animals album took pride and place over the middle of the arena. Launching in to ‘Dogs’ and ‘Pigs’, drummer Joey Waronker got a chance to shine on his massively huge kit. It was here that Donald Trump made his first appearance of the night, being displayed on the screens in various forms with the angry President's face pictured with word ‘Charade’. He was then displayed with a baby’s body and being held by Russian President Vladimir Putin, while many of the Don’s crazy quotes were featured on the giant as the instrumental sounds filled the venue. 

The odd time signature riff of ‘Money’ gets everyone bopping and we’re treated to Ian Ritchie performing an amazing saxophone solo, which is also continued through to the next song - the anthemic Us And Them.

We’re coming through to the end of the night and it becomes one classic after the other. ‘Smell The Roses’, ‘Brain Damage’ and 'Eclipse’ - which saw the album cover from Dark Side Of The Moon come to life as lasers constructed a gigantic triangle.  The epic ‘Mother’ was performed, with lines about the wall and dropping the bomb, it almost works too well for Waters and his views on the US President.

And how could a Roger Waters show not end without ‘Comfortably Numb’? Superbly performed by Waters and the band, it was the perfect way to finish the night. I’m a sucker for a song with a long instrumental outro, and Comfortably Numb is right at the top of the list.

Confetti dropped from the ceiling, raining all over the Spark Arena. Catching a souvenir, each piece had the word ‘Resist’ written on it.

Roger Waters is playing the Spark Arena again on Friday night, before heading to Dunedin next week to entertain South Island fans at the Forsyth Barr stadium. For this one, do not resist!

Friday January 26th: Spark Arena, Auckland  - Tickets via Ticketmaster

Tuesday January 30th: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin - Tickets via Ticketmaster