Roger Waters kicked off his “Us and Them” tour last night in Kansas City, Missouri, and at least a few fans were not happy with the legendary Pink Floyd artist for including anti-Trump messages in the show. According to the Kansas City Star, some fans walked out while Roger Waters and his band played the Pink Floyd song “Money,” while images of Trump’s failed casinos, Russian buildings, and photos of Kremlin officials flashed on the large screens surrounding the stage. One fan raised his middle finger toward the stage as he left the Sprint Center arena, apparently upset that a notoriously politically-conscious artist was including political themes in his show.
If people are surprised that Roger Waters has suddenly gone political, they must not have been paying attention to his career for the past half century. As early as 1968, Waters was touching on political themes in his writing. The song “Corporal Clegg” off the second Pink Floyd album, A Saucerful of Secrets, is about a soldier who lost his leg in World War II, a war which claimed the life of Roger Waters’s father. Roger Waters would later allude to his father’s death in the war in the song “Free Four” off of the 1972 album Obscured By Clouds, according to the Pink Floyd Lyrics website.
“You are the angel of death and I am the dead man’s son,” Waters sings. “And he was buried like a mole in a fox hole, and everyone is still in the run.”
Roger Waters’s lyrics would only become increasingly political over the years, culminating in Pink Floyd’s first explicitly political album, Animals, released in 1977. When Waters played a song from Animals, “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” at his Kansas City performance last night, it was accompanied by incendiary images of Donald Trump on the big screens surrounding the stage. The song begins with the line, “big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are,” and as Waters sang the line a scowling image of Donald Trump flashed on the screens with the word “charade” beneath his face. During the song’s guitar solo, a giant inflatable pig floated above the crowd with the phrase “piggy bank of war” written on the side, accompanied by dollar signs and other political imagery.
Roger Waters thanked Kansas City on his Facebook page, and while the majority of responses were positive, a handful of angry concertgoers complained about the political nature of the show. One commenter even described the show as “Satanic” while voicing her displeasure with Waters. Most were just generally upset that Waters criticized Trump or even had a political message at all.
“You are a piece of poo,” one commenter told Waters. “You are a fake. And I never thought I would turn my back on Pink Floyd. You are a disappointment to those of us who truly hate the NWO.”
“Maybe the crowd was amazing but you sucked,” wrote another commenter. “You were disgusting and you are oh so proud, aren’t you? Anti-God, anti-Trump. Satanic, it was. Disgusting!”
“I loved the music and the show was fantastic but your hatred and disrespect for President Trump were unnecessary,” another commenter wrote beneath Waters’s post. “I paid to listen to the music, not your political views.”
— Esquire (@esquire) May 24, 2017
Many fans, however, were more than pleased with the political themes of the concert, reminding the dissenters that much of Waters’s body of work is staunchly political and that Waters has never pulled political punches in the past.
“If you don’t know what side of the political spectrum Roger Waters is on at this point, I don’t know what to say,” a fan wrote.
“He’s only been sharing his sometimes unpopular views for 45 years minimum. Wake up people and stop f**king complaining. Roger is not going to tailor his performance to you. It’s his show, not ours. He writes the songs, and we are just lucky enough to hear them.”
Perhaps one of the reasons that so many people are surprised by the overtly political message of Roger Waters’s performance is that, while he has never shied away from politics in his music, they are often cloaked in esoteric language, metaphors, and personal themes. It’s easy to hear a song like “Us and Them,” a Dark Side of the Moon track which lends its name to the current tour, and miss the overtly political message. The pleasant melody and mid-tempo rhythm can lull one into passive listening and obscure the fact that the song deals with themes of war, conflict, tribalism, and human nature.
People who are looking for escapist entertainment devoid of political messages may want to sit down and listen to The Final Cut, a Pink Floyd album released in 1983, before spending a chunk of their paycheck on a Roger Waters ticket. Particularly, they should stop and ask themselves whether the guy who wrote “The Fletcher Memorial Home” is likely to lay off the politics. It might save them some trouble and aggravation and let those hard-to-score tickets fall into the hands of people who are more receptive to the things Roger Waters has to say.
[Featured Image by Chris Pizzello/AP Images]