Roger Waters' "This Is Not A Drill" tour is a conversation about real threats to humanity

Originally published at A Beautiful Resistance in English, at Le Monde Diplomatique Brasil in Portuguese.
Roger Waters (Photo: Kate Izor)

Roger Waters' new tour "This Is Not A Drill", which began in Pittsburgh July 6th, doesn't have a message — it's a conversation. The show is Waters' invitation to sit down, have a drink, and talk about something f*cking real: love, life, despair and how people in power are destroying humanity. Power, here, is not discussed in terms of political parties, in fact, U.S. Democrats are not spared from scrutiny, super-power world leaders are all painted in the same shade as war criminals.

For an artist with a half-a-century long career, Waters shows he can keep up with the ever-changing landscape of entertainment and technology, while being overtly uninterested in using this ability to follow trends. He forges his own path musically, visually and politically — unapologetically — as he has done since the 60s. This authentic path is not an imposition or a lecture. Instead, he asks the audience to engage in serious reflection and debate about unavoidable threats to the human race and human dignity.

As friends often disagree, the bond between the artist and the audience is not about holding the same views, but about sharing profound feelings, especially in the face of despair. If you're unwilling to have a conversation about the tragedy humankind has been submitted to, and the individuals and institutions responsible for it, don't show up.

Roger Waters (Photo: Kate Izor)

Having said that, the overt political opinion does not exclude audience members with different views. If anything, it's inclusive of everyone, and not just Pink Floyd fans. Even if you have never listened to Pink Floyd (I know it's hard to imagine that, but it's possible), or know nothing about them, here is an opportunity for an introduction. The show embraces and celebrates people of all races, ethnicities, gender and sexual identities, aside from fiercely advocating for every marginalized group's right to live and thrive. Because of this balance between nostalgia and pressing contemporary issues, this performance speaks to at least three generations, from young adults to their parents and grandparents.

The social criticism is not subtle when it addresses issues of colonialism, police violence, sanctions, social media, nationalism, racism, wealth disparity, the patriarchy, and so on. But as a critic, Roger does more than tear down — he seeks to build community, unity, and respect for human life in all its diversity. Though one person here and there may be seen frowning at the "Reproductive Rights" display, you can be sure to see them singing their hearts out to Eclipse a few minutes later.

It's not news that Waters' politics have rubbed plenty of people the wrong way, he knows that and addresses it head on. Those who think Roger's lack of support for Israel means he is antisemitic, for instance, will see that this show not only doubles down on his pro-Palestinian position, but also shows how his stance is nothing but radically hostile towards Fascism. If you are open to this conversation, it becomes clear that there is agreement over how combatting Fascism is imperative, and so is understanding how this ideology manifests itself then and now.

Roger Waters (Photo: Kate Izor)

Today, who holds the power and is massacring, surveilling and demoralizing innocent people? If you allow yourself to join this conversation with him, you will see that his unyielding opinion on this question is: The U.S. Army, the police, the politicians in charge of them, and the ultra-wealthy who are in charge of these politicians.

In an attempt to avoid any more spoilers, the visuals and the unique stage set-up can only be described as spectacular, and new wowing features are introduced continuously throughout the concert, keeping thousands each night on the edge of their seats. The guitar solos and back-up singer singalongs are bound to gratify any die-hard Pink Floyd fan. While the dynamic ebbs and flows of the set list, not to mention the fantastic saxophone solos, are bound to keep any music enthusiast moving.

Above all, Roger Waters' iconic presence on stage is both fierce and warm. He's personal and heartfelt, but stern and authentic. Prepare for both extremes of affection and well-deserved f*ck offs, but most importantly, for his wonderfully familiar voice rocking to some of your all-time favorite songs.

Roger Waters (Photo: Kate Izor)


Written by Mirna Wabi-Sabi and photographed by Kate Izor.