[Live Review] Roger Waters, Ziggo Dome Amsterdam

Roger Waters This is Not a Drill

Well that was something else indeed…

Whenever Roger Waters comes to town, you know there’s going to be a spectacle. You also know things will get political. This time however, on Waters’ purported “first ever” farewell tour (what the hell does that even mean?), the shadow of controversy looms large over proceedings. With his concert in Frankfurt in danger of being cancelled or at least postponed amidst accusations of antisemitism, there seems more at play than usual, with politics overshadowing the music. It’s not as it Waters has shunned controversy or political activism in the past, but when it takes centre stage and the music is relegated to the background, something definitely is amiss.

Entering the venue on a sunny Tuesday evening, we find the stage to be in the centre of the hall instead of in the usual back. It’s cross-shaped, massive and towering and you can’t help but wonder what magic Waters will conjure tonight if you haven’t already checked out footage of previous shows on the internet. When the lights go down the big, towering walls of course turn out to function as a larger than life video screen on which we’re first treated to two disclaimers. The first is to turn off your cell phones. The second really drives home what this evening is about: “And secondly, 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.” Again, is this a political rally or a rock music concert? Is it both?


Kicking off things is Waters’ re-recorded Lockdown Sessions-version of Comfortably Numb. You know, the weird haunting one without David Gilmour’s traditional guitar solos. In all honestly, it really works in setting the mood with its post-apocalyptic visuals and big cracks of thunder, but it’s not the Floyd many were hoping or waiting for. Then, the cross-shaped video wall rises and reveals the band playing underneath it. This poses the following problem, at least in the Ziggo Dome: if you’re standing too far from the stage you’ll find yourself (partly) underneath the balcony section and large parts of what’s happening will be obstructed from your view. So, when we finally did land a good spot, we stuck to it until the bitter end.

Musically, this tour’s set list is a bit of a mixed bag. There is enough to enjoy of course, and you will be treated to more than enough classics like Sheep (with an obligatory flying drone sheep hovering overhead), In The Flesh with its fascistoid imagery or the always excellent Have a Cigar. There are other songs that do not work so well however, and most of them are out of Waters’ solo collection or new material. Songs like the new The Bar of the rather meek version of The Bravery of Being Out of Range severely take the momentum out of the show and although no-one would have expected a full-blown Pink Floyd-set tonight, those classic songs (yes, even Two Suns in the Sunset from The Final Cut) are the meat and potatoes in the show.


Another problem tonight is that, for the first time, the politics are indeed in danger of taking precedence over the music. That, in what in essence is still a rock ‘n roll show (an elaborate one, but one all the same), can never be a good thing. People get out and pay good money to be entertained on a night out and not be lectured. Of course, if you go to a Roger Waters concert you know in part what to expect and that includes being asked to think and perhaps have your politics challenged and that, in moderation, is all well and good. There is such a thing, however, as too much of a good thing and This Is Not A Drill is in serious danger of overstepping the line, and on occasion, does exactly that.

The spectacle is grand as always, and for those who come to see and experience a big rock show there is more than enough to enjoy. I’ll bet most people will have had a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable everning, but with the handicap of the centered stage and the overhanging balconies and the more than a little heavy-handed activism this time around I came away impressed but not entirely convinced. If this is truly Roger Waters’ touring swan song, I think it could have been a better one.


Set list:

  • Comfortably Numb 2022
  • The Happiest Days of Our Lives
  • Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2
  • Another Brick in the Wall, Part 3
  • The Powers That Be
  • The Bravery of Being Out of Range
  • The Bar
  • Have a Cigar
  • Wish You Were Here
  • Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-VII, V)
  • Sheep
  • In the Flesh
  • Run Like Hell
  • Déjà Vu
  • Déjà Vu (Reprise)
  • Is This the Life We Really Want?
  • Money
  • Us and Them
  • Any Colour You Like
  • Brain Damage
  • Eclipse
  • Two Suns in the Sunset
  • The Bar (Reprise)
  • Outside the Wall


Review by RP


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