Roger Waters promised a “very special” set leading up to his first ever Newport Folk Festival performance Friday, and the bassist delivered with an acoustic-heavy gig that featured Pink Floyd favorites, solo cuts, three covers, a new song and a surprise backing band: My Morning Jacket.
The Waterfall crew themselves were an unannounced addition to the Newport fest, and after wrapping up their late afternoon set, they were joined onstage by Waters – along with Saturday Night Live band leader G.E. Smith, singer Amy Helm and fiddler Sara Watkins – for his Friday night headlining gig. Waters, Helm and My Morning Jacket had previously collaborated together at an all-star Levon Helm tribute concert in October 2012.
Waters opened up his set with new song “Crystal Clear Brooks,” the musical adaptation of a poem he unveiled in August 2014 that was about the children of Gaza. Waters followed that up with “Mother” and then “The Bravery of Being Out of Range,” a track off his 1992 solo LP Amused to Death that was reissued and released on Friday. Waters would also play that album’s title track, marking the first live performance of both Amused to Death cuts since 2002.
Waters next shared a cover of John Prine’s “Hello in There,” the first of three covers in Waters’ 10-song set; he’d later perform “Wide River to Cross” with Amy Helm, whose father Levon recorded the song for his 2007 solo album Dirt Farmer; Waters and Amy Helm previously performed the song together at the “Love for Levon” tribute concert.
Since Waters has spent recent years touring behind his epic The Wall stage shows, he’s largely eschewed classic tracks from the Pink Floyd songbook. However, his Newport performance saw Waters dust off three favorites for the first time in over six years: Dark Side of the Moon‘s “Brain Damage”/”Eclipse” suite and “Wish You Were Here,” which featured unique contributions from Jim James and Watkins.
This being the Newport Folk Festival – where Bob Dylan infamously went electric exactly 50 years ago today – Waters closed out his set by paying homage to Dylan with a cover of Planet Waves‘ “Forever Young.”