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Roger Waters Us + Them Review

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Roger Waters US + THEM DVD. Sony Legacy

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BAND:

Dave Kilminster: Guitars

Bo Koster: Keyboards

Jon Carin:  Keyboards and Guitars

Lucius – Jess Wolfe & Holly Laessig:  Vocals

Ian Ritchie:  Saxophone

Gus Seyffert:  Guitars and Bass

Jonathan Wilson:  Guitars and Vocals

Joey Waronker:  Drums

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The filmed performance opens with an image lonely female figure seated on a sand dune looking at the sea. There are threatening black clouds above and occasional thunder flashes. The instrumental and vocalised soundtrack augments the  feelings of loneliness and sadness. This then leads to the stage with voiceover before the opening song, ‘Speak To Me’, with a backdrop of sea, birds and a woman walking in the sand with a child in arms. Waters is seen wandering around the stage while he plays his guitar in front of a capacity audience numbering in the many thousands.

It’s the start of one of the very best recorded and filmed live concerts I have seen. A few years ago I was lucky enough to photograph Waters and his players at the Echo arena in Liverpool in front of another capacity audience. In many years of covering concerts it was my one of my favourites along with a few other bands including Radiohead, Metallica and The Frames. Could this be even better?

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The DVD cover describes the concert as “A night of statement, defiance, Protest and love”. And therein lies the difference and the reason why this most passionate of performances outshines that Liverpool concert and the previous live album/DVD IN THE FLESH. The video backdrops tell poignant, sad and devastating stories backed by a most expressive Waters with his superb band of instrumentalists and vocalists. Only in ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ does the emotion falter with the vocalisations of the two females who seem to be performing a few octaves higher than the original and as a result lose some of the drama. But it’s a small criticism and the two ladies don’t put a foot wrong during the rest of the show. The various lead vocals that punctuate the concert by other guitarists is of the highest order.

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The film often reveals audience members in full voice, in awe and deeply moved by what they witness. This adds greatly to the impact on me of the film. As ‘Deja Vu’ opens there are angry husband and wife exchanges before Waters sings about problems with alcohol while a video plays showing the West Bank Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli troops at the border, where many old and young Palestinians perished at the end of a sniper’s gun. The struggles of women left behind are brought into sharp focus.

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‘The Last Refugee’ is accompanied by a video of a desperate woman alone in a ramshackle building cuddling a small soft toy presumably belonging to her lost child. Eventually the soft toy is seen lying in the damp sand. It’s devastating. ‘Picture That’ is accompanied by the video of a soldier in front of his screen targeting missile laden drones… Waters is explosive as he angrily sings and remonstrates. God, it’s one of the most moving and passionate performances of the show. The magnificent guitar riffs add to the incendiary nature of the performance. Waters raises his guitar high as the audience scream in response.

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