Entries tagged with: GE Smith
words and photos by Klaus Kinski
Roger Waters @ Newport Folk Festival 7/24/2015
The 2015 Newport Folk Festival was definitely one for the history books. For example, this year's festival marked the 50th anniversary of when some man named Bob Dylan (in)famously decided to go electric. This move totally flipped the wigs of many of his deadbeat hippie/beat fans and created a deep chasm among his many devotees. As a matter of fact, on Saturday July 25, exactly 50 years to the day that Bob went electric at the Festival, the very Fender Stratocaster that Dylan used back 1965 to go electric made an appearance at the festival. The guitar, which Dylan left on an airplane like a doofus back in 1965, ended up in the hands of the plane's pilot until 2012. In 2013 the pilot's daughter put it up for auction where it fetched almost a million US dollars and ended up in the hands of Indianapolis Colts football team owner Jim Irsay.
Cool story bro. However, for me, the festival was all about the highly anticipated and very surprising headlining set by former Pink Floyd leader Roger Waters. The Newport Folk Festival is notorious for selling out before the line-up is even announced. So when the Fest announced that Waters would be headlining opening day of the festival (Friday July 24), a lot of people in possession of Friday tickets were extremely stoked, while millions of Roger Waters/Pink Floyd fans without tickets were extremely bummed out. I was one of the bummed out legion until fate intervened on my behalf and I miraculously found myself in attendance.
When Roger announced on facebook on May 21, 2015 that he would be participating in the 2015 Newport Folk Festival and promised "an intimate appearance specifically crafted for Newport Folk," the ambiguity of his declaration had Floyd-heads reeling at the possibilities. Would he be doing a full scale performance of "Dark Side" or "The Wall"? Or even stripped-down versions? Would he be performing his seminal 1992 album Amused to Death in full? After all, Friday July 24 also happened to be the day "Amused to Death" would see a large-scale, multi-format re-release.
What the Festival audience ended up getting from Waters was better than any of the above, in my opinion. For rather than use his headlining slot as an opportunity to remind us of his immense back catalog, both as a solo artist and as Pink Floyd's primary creative force, Waters took the opportunity to deliver a diverse setlist that not only gave a hearty nod to his work with Pink Floyd and as a solo artist, but he used the opportunity to pay homage to the festival's history, the legacy of folk music, and to hit us with the ultimate double-whammy; performing a brand new, never-before-heard song while playing piano in front of a crowd, according to Waters, "for the first time ever."
Waters was preceded by a scorching eight-song set by My Morning Jacket. As the dust settled from their 8th song, MMJ remained on stage as Roger Waters sauntered out with Amy Helm (daughter of the late Levon Helm), G.E. Smith as well as Lucius and Sara Watkins. These folks, combined with My Morning Jacket, banded together and served as Roger's explosive and unbelievable back-up band.
Roger kicked things off by performing that new, powerful, and no doubt provocative, song called "Crystal Clear Brooks," which has its origins as a poem penned by Waters that he brought to light back in 2014. He followed that with the Pink Floyd classic "Mother" which segued into one of my personal favorites from Amused to Death, "The Bravery of Being Out of Range." At this point in the set, he switched gears and performed a really great cover of John Prine's "Hello in There" which is a sad reflection on aging and the fact that life is basically one long casting off. Sort of a cross between "Death of a Salesman" and Hanson Towne's "Around The Corner." Ugh, get me a pistol. Anyhow, from there they moved into Floyd territory and unleashed another song about loss and longing; the classic "Wish You Were Here."
At this point, the rain was REALLY coming down and besides being soaked to the bone and shivering like an orphaned dog, I was also officially coming to terms with how well-crafted and totally unpredictable this set was. He followed "Wish You Were Here" with Buddy Miller's "Wide River to Cross," a song completely foreign to me but played beautifully by the assembled musicians and expressed superbly through Waters' vocals. The next three songs were completely Waters territory; the band tore into the title track from "Amused to Death" with staggering results and then headed into "Dark Side" territory with flawless renditions of "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse." They company closed out the set appropriately and paid tribute to The Newport Folk Festival in general and Bob Dylan in particular with a version of Planet Waves' "Forever Young."
At some point towards the tail end of this magnificent set, the rain tapered off, the clouds began to part, and the sun finally began to reappear again. Roger Waters had assembled an amazing crew of musicians and pulled off a truly amazing, unpredictable, and fulfilling performance that lacked ego and pretension.
Unfortunately, Roger doesn't have many live dates coming up in the near future. However, he will be performing at Dar, Constitution Hall, in Washington DC on Friday October 16, 2015. Billed as "Music Heals" the concert will feature Roger Waters, the musicians of MusiCorps, and will feature special guests Bill Corgan, Sheryl Crow and Tom Morello. More info:
Music Heals: an exceptional one night only concert where some of the world's biggest recording artists will join forces to raise money for MusiCorps - a charity supporting injured service men and women and their families. The MusiCorps Band is made up of injured service members who have learned, and in some cases relearned, how to play instruments through the charity. MusiCorps is a non-profit charitable organization which helps wounded veterans play music and recover their lives. Praised by the Wall Street Journal as "revolutionary," the conservatory-level program enables the wounded to learn, relearn, and perform music as a core part of their rehabilitation.Tickets for this show are on sale now.
In honor of the re-release of Roger Waters' 1992 solo album Amused to Death, we are giving away a limited edition 2xLP picture disc to one lucky person. Details on how to win are below.
Pics, videos, and setlist below.
As rumored, Roger Waters used My Morning Jacket as his backing band at a Newport Folk Fest on Friday night (7/24). We'll talk more about that in more detail later, but as you can see in the setlist above and below, My Roger Jacket played Pink Floyd songs, Waters solo songs, and some covers too. MMJ played their own set too. Amy Helm (Levon's daughter), G.E. Smith, Lucius and Sara Watkins also joined for some songs. MMJ, Roger, and G.E. Smith previously teamed up for a Levon Helm related benefit in 2012.
Though it was gorgeous all day, the clouds really started rolling in during MMJ, and the skies opened up during Roger's set. The sun was back out by the end of his set though.
A few Instagrams below...
by Klaus Kinski
still from 'Roger Waters: The Wall'
In a life that is nothing short of a cornucopia of self-designed regrets, two of my most robust regrets are not ponying up the admittedly exorbitant cash money to catch Roger Waters when he toured "The Wall" back in 2010 and 2012. I had friends all over the country emailing me saying "Dude, bro, you have to see this concert. Even the cheap seats are amazing. The staggering scale of this thing makes your seat assignment almost arbitrary. Dude." But I, one of Roger Waters' biggest fans, passed. And for that, I am forever regretful.
Luckily for deadbeats like me, Roger Waters and the tour's creative director Sean Evans have teamed up and produced a live concert film called "Roger Waters: The Wall" and it will be premiering at the Toronto Film Festival on September 6. The film was shot over the course of several tour dates and this live footage will be intercut with other dramatic and autobiographical footage including Waters' recent journey to see the grave of his grandfather, who was killed in WWI, and a trip to Italy to visit a WWII monument near the Anzio beaches on which his father's name is inscribed. Although it probably won't come close to the experience of seeing the tour (which grossed nearly a half a billion dollars) in person, it is sure to be a striking document of one of the most ambitious tours ever undertaken. Details on a worldwide release or a DVD/BluRay/Streaming release are unclear at the moment, but you can be sure that if it'll make money it'll be done.
In other Roger Waters news with a more local and aristocratic flavor, Roger Waters will be among a handful of performers set to delight dozens of 1%ers (the non biker kind) this Saturday (8/30) in the Hamptons at the Perfect Earth Project's Second Biennial Family Picnic and Concert. In addition to part-time Hamptons resident Roger Waters, other performers include Rufus Wainwright, GE Smith (SNL), The Persuasions, Teddy Thompson, and more. Tickets range from $250 to $10,000. Proceeds benefit PEP, an organization that "promotes toxin-free lawns and landscapes to protect human health and the environment." If that's not some bored rich person's idea of activism, I don't know what is. Maybe Roger'll play "Empty Spaces."
photos by Greg Cristman
Roger Waters projected his message stadium-wide, literally, when he brought his new production of "The Wall" to Yankee Stadium on Friday, starting a two-night stand. A white-brick wall, which is both an ideal video screen in concert and the central metaphor of the rock opera he wrote for the 1979 album by Pink Floyd (with additional music by the band's guitarist, David Gilmour), spanned the stadium and towered 40 feet high.Roger Waters brought his unbelievable, high-budget, musical-theater performance of The Wall to NYC this past weekend for shows on Friday (7/6) and Saturday (7/7) at Yankee Stadium. Complete with the long video screen wall (and stage) spanning the outfield, costume changes, the pig flying around the stadium, giant puppets of Wall characters like the teacher and mother, pyrotechnics, video of David Gilmour singing parts (and Robbie Wyckoff handling some of the Gilmour parts live), G.E. Smith of the Saturday Night Live band on guitar, and much more, the Wall Live is an over the top spectacle that leaves even the most die-hard capitalists (the ones in the $250 seats), but maybe not all Pink Floyd purists, satisfied.
The message Mr. Waters hammered home -- with images including animated regiments of goose-stepping hammers on the march -- was distrust of power and authority in many forms: parents, schools, celebrities, corporations, countries, ideologies. Throughout intermission (as elegiac music played), and at points during the concert, the names and faces of people killed by wars, terrorism and government actions were shown on the wall. Quotations from George Orwell, Franz Kafka and Dwight D. Eisenhower also appeared on it. At one point, animated bombers dropped corporate logos and religious symbols; "Run Like Hell" included a WikiLeaks video from an American helicopter firing on Iraqi journalists. Early in the concert, Mr. Waters decried "all the victims of state terror all over the world," and preached that giving governments, police and soldiers too much power was "a very steep and slippery slope to tyranny. [NY Times]
The shows were part of an ongoing tour, which also hits Philly this week.
More pictures, a video, and setlist (aka the Wall, in order, with an intermission between the two records) from night one, below.
photos by Chris La Putt
A very pregnant Allison Moorer joined Steve Earle for a few songs during her husband's two-hour acoustic show Friday night at the Society for Ethical Culture off Central Park West, a block from Lincoln Center.David Broza (with help from guitarist G. E. Smith) opened the show and is playing again on Christmas Eve at 92Y. More pictures from the show with Steve's setlist, below...
The gig came during a brief respite back in their adoptive hometown, between legs of a tour promoting Earle's new album of compositions by his hero, the late Townes Van Zandt, whose songs he's now teaching to legions of new cultists.
Arguably America's greatest living songwriter laughed as he noted that "Townes" has become one of his best sellers, "which in a way is discouraging cause I didn't write any of the songs on it." [Borough 6]