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A rundown of Roger Waters’ most political songs

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Waters and performers whose shirts, translated, read, “Tear down the wall.”
Chris Pizzello/AP

Few musicians dispense political invective quite like Roger Waters. From the social order lambasting found on the 1977 album Animals by Pink Floyd—the ambitious rock band in which he served as primary songwriter, bassist and co-vocalist until his departure in 1985—to a string of solo albums that dissect man’s inclinations toward war, greed and self-numbing, Waters has long pontificated against what he saw as humanity’s greatest failures.

And he’s certainly not mincing words on his latest arena tour. Fans of Donald Trump might want to consider sitting out Friday’s widescreen spectacular given Waters’ onstage skewering of the president—and others he views as threats to world peace and equality—which inform or recontextualize the songs in his setlist. And some of those tour inclusions can be found in the following rundown of some of his most pointed musical commentaries.

“Picture That” (from Is This the Life We Really Want?) One of the most blazing songs on Waters’ recently released fifth solo studio album, the musical and evocative list of societal references (including a mention of Nevada) peaks when the singer seethes about a “leader with no f*cking brains” and transitions into a climaxing instrumental, sure to stir the T-Mobile (or any) audience.

“Pigs (Three Different Ones)” (Animals) Preceding the aforementioned track by 40 years, this cutting Pink Floyd number takes a scythe to selfish and ruthless leadership. And like “Picture That,” the associations to men currently in charge are all too easy: “You well-heeled big wheel/Ha, ha, charade you are.”

“Perfect Sense Part 1” (Amused to Death) Waters likely won’t perform this highlight from his most revered solo album on Friday night, but given its critiques against organized religion, man’s inabilities to learn from history, Wall Street and the president, it would be a perfect inclusion.

“The Fletcher Memorial Home” (The Final Cut) A revenge fantasy of a song, where instead of world leaders sending soldiers (like Waters’ father) to their deaths, they themselves (specifically, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and others) are sent to eventually expire at a twisted assisted living facility.

“Money” (Dark Side of the Moon) One of the earliest Pink Floyd works to shift away from more vague, metaphysical themes to address specific and topical subjects—such as the ills of capitalism and greed, Waters’ sarcastic verses all but predicting yuppies and income disparity a decade early.

“Smell the Roses” (Is This the Life We Really Want?) Not only does Waters recall the mid-1970s Pink Floyd sound for his new album’s first single, he pulls from nearly all of his favorite lyrical themes—war and pacifism, governmental corruption and working class struggles. This return to form means there’s at least two new tracks worth staying in your seats for Friday evening.

Roger Waters June 16, 8 p.m., $55-$250. T-Mobile Arena, 702-692-1600.

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