Review - Roger Waters @ Oracle Arena (6/10/17)

Roger Waters @ Oracle Arena (Photo: Kevin Keating)
The anticipation was palpable in the near-capacity Oracle Arena last night when a video began to play from a massive wall that extended the full width of the stage shortly after 8pm. The video depicted a lone woman sitting idly on an empty shoreline slowly fidgeting with her legs pulled close to her chest and her back to the audience the entire time. Was this was the same woman featured in Roger Waters' first single, "The Last Refugee", from his new album Is This the Life We Really Want? (iTunes).

What sounded like a fog horn blew; potentially alerting the crowd that the show was about to begin. And yet the woman continued to sit idly on the shoreline as the waves drifted along the coast. And then, shortly after 8:15pm, the house lights went out and Roger emerged from the stage to a crowd that erupted in applause.
Roger Waters @ Oracle Arean (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Like his show in San Jose two nights earlier (see our review here), Roger was joined onstage by a touring band that featured background vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of the pop band Lucius, saxophonist Ian Ritchie, guitarist Jonathan Wilson, guitarist/bassist Gus Seyffert, keyboardist Drew Erickson, drummer Joey Waronker, guitarist Dave Kilminster, and long-time Pink Floyd collaborator, multi-instrumentalist Jon Carin.
Jon Carin @ Oracle Arena (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Without an opening act, the band dove straight into some of Floyd's classics, like Dark Side's "Speak to Me & Breathe" which then bled into one of my personal favorites, "One of These Days" and "Time".
Roger Waters @ Oracle Arena (Photo: Kevin Keating)
The first half of the show ended with about a dozen local school kids joining the band on stage to dance to "Another Brick In the Wall" before breaking for a quick intermission. And up until this point of the show, the theatrics were largely contained to the performances on stage and the video projected on the massive wall behind them. That would all change in the second half!
Roger Waters @ Oracle Arena (Photo: Kevin Keating)
After a short 20 minute break, the arena was divided in half length-wise as 16 addition screens lowered from the arena rafters and projected the brick industrial complex featured on the Animals album cover. The band kicked off into "Dogs" and then turned "Pigs" and "Money" into a bruising commentary against our Charade-in-Chief Trump, complete with a flying pig that circled the arena.
Roger Waters performing "Pigs" @ Oracle Arena (Photo: Kevin Keating)
The production values were simply incredible, with a reported 20 semi-trucks needed to transport the gear from city to city. Supposedly, load-in started at 4am and it's no wonder why. This is simply a huge production and a must-see if this show comes to your town! But the show wasn't over yet.
Roger Waters @ Oracle Arean (Photo: Kevin Keating)
What was missing so far? Lasers, of course! The set-up began as the band started into Dark Side's "Brain Damage" and where four mysterious black boxes positioned in a square in the front half of the seating area on the floor started spewing fog. A fifth black box lowered from the rafters as it also sent fog into the arena. Then, just as "Brain Damage" bled into "Eclipse", a pyramid was formed just above the audience on the floor by bright white laser light connecting each of the five boxes. The sight was absolutely surreal. As the song climaxed, just as on the Dark Side album cover, a full spectrum of rainbow lights bathed the entire arena in color. The sight was stunning.
Holly Laessig & Jess Wolfe of Lucius @ Oracle Arena (Photo: Kevin Keating)
To wrap up the night, Roger launched into three tracks from The Wall and gave Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius another moment in the spotlight with their soaring vocals in "Vera". The capper was none other than "Comfortably Numb", which by that point, most of us in the audience were definitely numb from what we'd all just experienced. I can't say it enough, this was one hell of a show! If you're a Floyd fan, you're doing yourself a disservice if you miss this show. Be sure to check out Roger's remaining tour dates and keep your fingers crossed for a subsequent BluRay release.

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Roger Waters Setlist Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA, USA, Us + Them Tour 2017

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