When director Sean Evans describes the monumental new Roger Waters show he oversees, he doesn’t emphasize its technological bells and whistles, though there are plenty of them. Instead, he stresses its emotional impact.
“Roger didn’t want to do a tour unless it was going to move people,” he said. “The way the show builds through a clear arc is what I’m most proud of. From the start, we knew this show had to have a theme and a point.”
Actually, it has many. The state-of-the-art show, titled “Us + Them,” is part rock concert, part protest rally, part dystopian horror film. At the same time, it’s an eye-widening spectacle, deploying never-before-seen video screens on a gladiatorial scale, as well as audio effects which whip sound around the arena with immersive wonder. The tour, which stopped at Newark’s Prudential Center last week, will overtake the Barclays Center on Monday and Tuesday, and Nassau Coliseum Friday and Saturday.
The show’s freshest feature? A double layer of video screens, measuring 180 feet on each side, which descends in the second act to slice the arena in half. While U2 pioneered the use of a gargantuan center screen for their “Innocence + Experience” tour in 2015, theirs stood immobile. In “Us + Them,” they creep up and down, creating a range of shapes, while continuously altering the scale of the show. In their grandest form, the screens beam an image of the iconic Battersea Power Station, which famously graced the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album, “Animals.”
“We’re conjuring an entire building above people’s heads,” Evans said.
The director’s connection to Pink Floyd dates back to his birth year: Both Evans and “Dark Side Of The Moon” came out in 1973. Raised in North Port, L.I., and currently living in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, Evans studied design at Manhattan’s School of Visual Art. He met Waters through his work creating album covers for Sony Music artists like Aerosmith, Cyndi Lauper, Cypress Hill and the ex-Pink Floyd leader himself. Evans began his work as creative director for Waters’ shows after designing the visuals for his under-recognized opera “Ca Ira” in 2005. He went on to design the elaborate stagings of Waters’ “The Wall” in 2010 and 2013.
As colossal as those tours were, they had a clear template. “You knew where it would start and where it would end,” Evans said. “This show had to be built from scratch.”
The songs in the new show draw heavily from “Dark Side,” “Animals” and “The Wall,” repurposing their anti-authoritarian themes for the age of Trump. In the most political sequence, during “Pigs,” the screens swell with images of the President as a crying baby, a puppet of Putin and with a white hood on his head. At various shows, some fans have booed, but, said Evans, “they’re far outweighed by those who cheer.”
The show also features many images of refugees, opening and closing with an enigmatic film showing a woman with a head scarf, staring out at the ocean. The haunting footage means to put the focus back on humanity amid a production whose scale can sometimes feel as overwhelming as the world it depicts. Yet, for all its whiz-bang effects, and multi-faceted imagery, Evans believes the show can be boiled down to a simple theme: “Stop killing people, and start loving them.”