This Is Not A Drill - Roger Waters Live

I fell into the music of Pink Floyd when I was in high school.  My friend Jeff, a huge Syd Barret fan, gets all the credit.  Jeff made a tremendous impact on my musical life, exposing me to Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, etc.  It was a whole new world of music.  Pink Floyd's emotive and sweeping symphonic sound resonated with me.  I ate it up.  

Back in my teens I can remember playing Dark Side of the Moon over and over again to the point that certain friends started requesting that I play basically anything else.  I remember buying a Pink Floyd t-shirt from eBay, back before online shopping was the norm, because there was nowhere in my hometown that sold such a thing.  Same with the film version of The Wall which I watched in the basement with my friends more times than I could count.  That could also be said about viewings of Dark Side of the Rainbow.  My mom even let me paint the rainbow-prism-on-black motif on my bedroom wall.  Gosh, I wish I had a photo of that now.

After moving to college and connecting with the live music scene here, I went to a bunch of Pinky and the Floyd concerts.  They're a tribute band out of Bozeman.  That was as close as I ever expected to get to a Pink Floyd concert experience in my life.
Until the day back in February 2020 when Matt suggested we see a Roger Waters concert that fall.  Of course, the pandemic put everything on hold, but we were finally able to see Roger Waters live on Tuesday, September 6, 2022, at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado
And it was soooooooooooooooooo cooooooooooooooooooool.  

My 16-year-old self could never have imagined the day I see Roger perform Another Brick in the Wall or Two Suns in the Sunset, etc.  My adult self could never have imagined how powerful the experience would be.  

It was truly unlike any other concert I've seen, largely for two reasons. 
First off, the concert was performed "in the round," meaning there wasn't a front or back to the stage.  There was a 360-degree stage set up in the middle of the arena and the band shifted around it as the show progressed.  That is, aside from the drums and keyboard which were in fixed locations.  Roger would be on our side of the stage and Seamus Blake would be wailing on his saxophone on the other side.  Then, for the next song, they would all swap so Roger would be on the far side of the stage and we'd get a close-up view of the female vocalists.  And so it went all show long.  It was clever.  Each part of the stadium had a close experience with the whole band*.   I was quite pleased with the in-the-round concert experience.
We were only 19 rows up from the floor and dead on with one of the "runways" projecting from each side of the stage.  We had a spectacular view.  I must have told Matt, "I can't believe how good these seats are!" at least a dozen times.  It was easy to see the band with my naked eye.  Roger seemed so ridiculously close!  I was really glad we opted to go with the level 200 seats instead of the (cheaper) 300-level seats that we had also considered.  

These were the most expensive concert tickets we've bought to date**.  Even more than the Rolling Stones!
Secondly, Roger Waters was a concert experience unlike any other because it was equal parts musical performance and anti-war rally.  I have a soft spot for protest music and Roger, whose father was killed in action when Roger was just a baby, doesn't mince words when it comes to his feelings on war and those who wage it.  

It wasn't only war though.  He spelled out, often quite literally with bold impossible-to-miss text on the giant video screen over the stage, his views on racial injustice, police brutality, gender inequality, and other human rights issues.  It was intense.  I expected some political content to some extent, but still, I wasn't quite prepared***. 
I'll start with the thing that surprised me the most.  Roger came out dressed, well, like a Nazi...more or less, and sang "In The Flesh," from The Wall.  His armband had the crossed hammers symbols instead of a swastika, but the homage was obvious.  And then, at the end of the song, he shot off an uzi.  A fake one, sure, but still!  I did not expect that much satire somehow. 

While the band was performing "Sheep" an immense inflatable sheep flew into the arena and circled overhead.  That bit of theatrics sure made me grin.  It was so wonderfully over the top.  A little later, while Roger was still dressed in the Nazi getup, an oversized pig flew around the stage, too.  Greed and pigs featured heavily in the video accompaniment for "Money," as well, as might be expected.    
On the big screen over the stage, he played the actual video clip of an airstrike in Iraq in which every person killed was a civilian.  That one stunned me the most.  "Did I just watch people die while I was dancing?!****"  There was a montage of photos of individuals who had been unjustly killed (by cops, as collateral damage in wars, etc.) overlayed on footage of demonstrators.  It was a moving and appropriate visual accompaniment for songs like "The Bravery Of Being Out of Range," or "The Powers That Be," but it was heavy stuff for a concert.  Of course, protest music is by nature heavy and there is no way around it.  Life isn't all rainbows just because I want it to be.

There were a few moments in which I commanded myself to stop watching the video screens.  I wanted to focus on Roger and the music...not all that anguish and loss.  Of course, looking away doesn't mean the bombs aren't falling.  Looking away doesn't make the destruction stop.  

Perhaps that was the point.  
I admire how Roger Waters is using his platform and fame to advance the causes of world peace and human rights.  He could just play a selection of hits, take his money, and call it a day.  But he doesn't.  There were a lot of people listening in that arena and I bet Matt and I were not the only ones who had some thoughtful conversations afterward.   We also had a good time.  Turns out:  It can be both.
This photo is the only one in the series that isn't mine.  It shows the fabulous prism lights over the stage though and I didn't have any pictures of that.  I pulled it from Roger Waters' Facebook page.
Roger did soften the blows, so to speak, by playing a substantial chunk of Dark Side of the Moon during the second set.  They had some especially gorgeous visuals for that segment of the show, including a triangle of lights around the video screen as it played rainbow imagery that was spectacular.  A fabulous prism!  I'm pretty sure it would have only "worked" at a show played in the round, with that 360-degree stage.
We also go to hear a new Roger song, too, and that was pretty special.  It isn't on Spotify, yet, say.  The Bar.  So that was a treat.  They did a reprise in the second set, too, which kinda tied things together.  Roger played the keys.  It was grand.

Roger looked wonderfully fit and hale which is all the more noteworthy given that the concert fell on his 79th birthday.  He sounded great, too.  Also, it slays me that he's calling this his "First Ever Farewell Tour."  That's a good one, given how the big stars usually retire.  All in all, I feel honored to have seen it.  
And blown away.  Have I properly conveyed how absolutely blown away I was?!  It was an unforgettable experience.  That's for sure.
All photos are mine--from the show--with the exception of the promo pic noted above.
*While Roger Waters may be the "star" of the show I would be remiss if I didn't mention his amazing band by name, too.  The This Is Not A Drill tour included guitarists Jonathan Wilson and Dave Kilminster, drummer Joey Waronker, guitarist/bassist Gus Seyffert, keyboardist/guitarist Jon Carin, organist Robert Walter, saxophonist Ian Ritchie and backing singers Amanda Belair and Shanay Johnson.
** At the conclusion of the concert, Roger thanked his band and crew.  He mentioned that there were 140 members of the touring party all told.  So, even though I say that this is the most expensive concert I've ever seen it was still worth every single penny and a total bargain.  
*** They warn you about what you're getting into before the show starts.  Across the huge screen, Roger gives everyone a heads up.  "If you’re one of those ‘I love Pink Floyd, but I can’t stand Roger’s politics’ people, you might do well to fuck off to the bar right now. Thank you, and please enjoy the show.”  I sorta loved that, even if it was a little hostile.
****I wasn't sure if it would be a dancing kind of show or not.  I was prepared to sit but hoped to dance.  It was mostly the latter--fortunately.


  1. Hi Beth,
    ...I've definitely listened to my share of's one of the Man's favorite bands...he would totally love this concert...
    ~Have a lovely day!

  2. We are Floyd fans over here and I noted that one of his concert venues was cancelled due to his political stance. It wouldn't be Waters or Floyd without a protest woven into the very fibre of a song. The imagery is stunning yet at the same time really challenging to see and read. I'm glad you had a fab time, you've made a memory that will last a life time ❤️

    1. It was all so incredibly moving. A memory to last a lifetime indeed! And I enjoy that Pink Floyd is one more thing we have in common! Such fabulous music. And with a message!!! <3


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