Circo Massimo, Rome, Italy – July 14, 2018
Disc 1 (58:37) Speak To Me, Breathe, One Of These Days, Time, Breathe (reprise), The Great Gig In The Sky, Welcome To The Machine, Deja Vu, The Last Refugee, Picture That, Wish You Were Here, The Happiest Days Of Our Lives, Another Brick In The Wall Part 2, Another Brick In The Wall Part 3
Disc 2 (59:42) Intro / Battersea Powerstation, Dogs, Pigs (Three Different Ones), Money, Us And Them, Smell The Roses, Brain Damage, Eclipse
Disc 3 (68:29) Roger Speech / Band Introduction, Mother, Comfortably Numb. Bonus Tracks: Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, Netherlands – June 18, 2018: Wait For Her, Oceans Apart, Part Of Me Died. 3 Arena, Dublin, Ireland – June 27, 2018: Danny Boy. Mura Storiche, Lucca, Italy – July 11, 2018: Dogs, Pigs (Three Different Ones)
There are three known recordings from Roger Waters’ performance at the ancient Roman Stadium Circo Massimo, AKA Circus Maximus, two have been available via torrent to collectors, the third and perhaps the best has been released by the folks at Golden Eggs. The performance comes as part of Roger’s massive Us And Them 2017 – 2018 Tour featuring the former Pink Floyd leader “Performing songs from the Dark Side Of The Moon, The Wall, Animals, Wish You Were Here and more”. Roger had two dates in Italy, the first from a few days prior to this has been released as Definitive Lucca 2018 (Sigma 219), that release crams the concert onto two discs, this new release from Golden Eggs spans three discs with the extra space on the third disc reserved for bonus material. I did listen to a brief sample of the Sigma title and while the sound is excellent, there is a bit more audience noise than this new title.
The sound on this new title is nothing short of perfection, the complete performance in stunning stereo quality, the taper found a sweet spot so there is no real audience noise directly close although you can hear very faint conversations from time to time. For an outside venue the frequency range is perfect, nice highs with a great bottom end as well, making for an incredible listening experience.
Speak To Me is the natural opener, “I’ve been mad for fucking years” comes through loud and clear, the audience respond with applause as it culminates into Breathe. Water’s nine piece band re create the lush sounds of the Floyd material, One Of These Days is very corrosive, a short and compact version of a little over five minutes in length, is an early highlight. The set list is heavy on the Dark Side material, only the jam songs, On The Run and Any Colour You Like, are not performed. Time features Roger’s first single vocal singing the first verse. For a man of 74, he still retains his unique delivery but has a certainly aged and weathered quality to them. Jess Wolfe and Holly Lassig do a splendid job with Great Gig In The Sky, it is different with more medium to low notes versus the annoying high wailing, really great variation, typical for Roger to shake things up a bit.
There is some great lead guitar mixed in to the Synthesizer during Welcome To The Machine I really like, soaring notes that seem to mimic, but not copy, what the keyboards are doing giving it a trippy yet heavy feel. The next three tunes are from Roger’s most recent solo record Is This The Life We Really Want?, Deja Vu and The Last Refugee are almost reflective, Picture That is what we expect from Roger as it is a bit more aggressive, all in all very intriguing. I have not really listened to this record but am intrigued enough to seek it out. Wish You Were Here gets us back to the favorites and the first set ends with a nice little chunk of The Wall, The Happiest Days Of Our Lives, Another Brick In The Wall Part 2, and Another Brick In The Wall Part 3. The audience are happy with the selections and do a bit of singing and clapping during Another Brick Part 3, you can hear some of Roger’s pre recorded vocals during this song, it’s easy to pick them out as the timbre is a bit different, he does the last verses making for a very powerful ending. At the conclusion he tells the audience that the choir was made up of local kids “Romans”, something that gets a nice ovation.
The second set begins with the rising of the Battersea Power Station, a visually impressive site that would be the visual foundation for the Animals material. For most hard core Pink Floyd fans this is the portion of the show that most anticipated. Roger had performed Dogs and Sheep on previous tours (1999 and 2007 respectively), the Us And Them tour would be the first time two of the main songs would be performed in one set, complete with some visual political commentary. Dogs has the nice long middle section where the keyboards take over and dogs howl while the rest of the band chill out. The band play very traditional to the original versions of both Dogs and Pigs, the latter featuring some really nice dual lead guitars, the guitar playing has that nasty sound indicative of this material, it’s a necessity actually. The pacing of the material along with between song observational material is quite interesting when taken in this context. Money is next. The sax solo sounds a bit sickly, thankfully it is short and the guitar solo kicks in and the solo jam portion sounds rather Jazzy. Us And Them features some really nice piano playing and the sax playing also sounds more at home and the song is, on the whole, very dynamic. Smell The Roses is quite Floydian, the guitar playing is very Gilmouresque and does a good job of breaking up the Dark Side material while strangely keeping in line with it. Brain Damage and Eclipse are the set ending songs, pretty traditionally for a Roger Waters show.
Roger thanks the audience and introduces the band and does what many would think is a political rant, actually it is simply his opinion, I would expect when I go see a Roger Waters concert I would hear his opinion, in fact I would expect it. It is who he is. The first song of the encore is a classic from The Wall, Mother. A nice and compact version short and sweet yet sets the stage for the finale of Comfortably Numb, the highlight is indeed a superb guitar solo that exercises the Gilmour ghost so to speak, it’s that Good.
The bonus tracks are three songs from the latest Roger solo record Is This The Life We Really Want? Again the sound quality is excellent, very little audience noise and is quite similar sounding to the Rome recording. The second bonus material is from Dublin, Ireland and is Roger’s version of the traditional Irish Folk song Danny Boy. The sound quality is excellent, it sounds like the taper was either very close to the stage or close to a PA stack, you have the feeling of being closer in the audience without the separation of the Rome recording. That being said the sound quality is excellent audience, all instruments and vocals are very clear, instead of cheering loudly most people sing along with the girls and the whole thing is quite moving, the audience appreciates the sentiment and let Roger know. The last two songs are Dogs and Pigs from the previous concert in Rome at the Mura Storiche in Lucca, Italy. The concert was part of the Lucca Summer Festival, a musical event that started in 1998 and one that draws some of the biggest names in Rock. The recording is excellent and like the two previous bonus material recordings, is a bit more crowd heavy than the Rome show, it is very in your face and perfect for the Animals material and it makes for a bit more aggressive feeling the songs demand.
The packaging is a tri gate-fold sleeve featuring live shots from the concert giving one the scale of the live setting. First off incredible sound, I know we are in the age of compact digital recording equipment but this is really a stunning recording, if you want a companion piece I suggest David Gilmour – A Night Of Wonder: Circus Maximus MMXVI (Eat A Peach 130/31/32) as it was recorded at the same venue two years prior. Second is the bonus material, this gives you value for money plus the extra solo tunes from Amsterdam and great version of Danny Boy from Ireland, a very emotional tribute to the Island nation. Lastly, the packaging is typically great like we expect from the Eggs, for those like me who only want a release or two from these solo tours, this one is certainly worth consideration.