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Videos: Roger Waters Trashes Donald Trump In Desert Trip's Grand Finale
"I hope I die before I get old."
The irony of that line, originally sung by The Who 51 years ago, only grows with each passing year. On year three of their 50th anniversary "final" tour (something they first embarked on in 1982), the irony was not lost on guitarist Pete Townshend when the band took the stage at Desert Trip on Sunday night.
"Well here the fuck we are," said Townshend. "Y'all come to our old people dance?"
The Who, now down to only two original members, in true Who fashion played the loudest and most energetic set of the whole weekend. If there was one dinosaur act, at least at Desert Trip, that came the closest to having a kinship with the punks who precipitated the mass extinction of their kind, it was Townshend and company, whose anthems of teenage angst (such as "My Generation" and "Baba O'Riley") remain timeless.
Roger Daltrey still has the pipes that makes him rock's greatest voice (although a few times it seemed like he took a few breaths to catch up), and Townshend managed to muster the energy for plenty of windmill riffs through the set. Townshend once remarked that the Beatles and Stones might have beat them on the LPs, but it was in concert where The Who blew them out of the water. That held true last night.
As expected, their setlist seemed mostly lifted straight out of any number of "Best of The Who" compilations (is there a band with more greatest hits compilations?), but what was a pleasant surprise were the two suites that sampled their epic "rock operas" Quadrophenia and Tommy. Quadrophenia's "The Rock" was set against a montage of the last fifty years of world and the band's history, as if it all had culminated to that point, one fateful night in the desert.
After closing with "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again"—their monster anthems from Who's Next—Townshend noted in their farewell that Sunday would have been bassist John Entwistle's 72nd birthday (Entwistle died in 2002, the day before their tour, from a cocaine overdose and with a groupie in his bed). "He went out in a blaze of something or other," said Townshend
The Who are well past their peak in the 1970s as the standard bearer of arena rock, but Sunday's concert was certainly a blaze of something.
OK, confession: I never cared much for Pink Floyd. Their compositions are basically tolerable as far as prog rock goes, and Roger Waters' lyrics are basically *thinking face emoji* (I don't really like psychedelic rock so the early Syd Barrett stuff doesn't do it for me either). But even I had to admit that Desert Trip saved the best for last.
The air at the Empire Polo Club took on a slightly danker aroma as Roger Waters performed a selection of Pink Floyd classics, mainly from Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here. Waters took advantage of the enormous stage screen, projecting vivid psychedelic landscapes and imagery. Waters also utilized Desert Trip's infrastructure above and beyond the rest of the acts, using directional sound and lights to create a fully immersive experience.
The 75,000 Desert Trippers missed Sunday night's debate, but Waters' set provided enough political spectacle to make up for it. Once the act transitioned into Animals—with four smokestacks rising from the top of the screen to emulate the album cover—Waters took aim at one particular presidential candidate.
"Pigs (Three Different Kinds)" came accompanied with a slideshow of Donald Trump caricatures, labeling him "CHARADE" and "JOKER" and displaying many of his more deplorable quotes. An enormous inflatable pig soon made its way floating over the audience, with a map of the U.S. on its side with the label "DIVIDED WE FALL." The other side revealed the messages "FUCK TRUMP AND HIS WALL" and "ARROGANT, LYING, RACIST, SEXIST PIG."
But not all of Waters politicking was focused on Trump. After wrapping up portions of The Wall and climaxing with Dark Side of the Moon's "Brain Damage/Eclipse," Waters turned the Desert Trip stage in his own soapbox. "It's rare somebody like me gets a platform like this, so I'm going to use it," he said.
Waters read an angry poem he wrote in response to the re-election of George W. Bush, and voiced his support for the BDS movement. "I encourage the government in Israel to end the occupation."
Desert Trip wrapped up with—what else—"Comfortably Numb," a graceful coda for six of rock's greatest acts, who refused to go quietly into that desert night.
Desert Trip's second weekend starts on Friday, October 14 and runs through to Sunday, October 16.
Previously: Videos: Paul McCartney And Neil Young Share The Stage And Play Beatles Classics At Desert Trip (Day 2)
Photos: Desert Trip Kicks Off With Bob Dylan And The Rolling Stones (Day 1)
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