To mark the (32nd) anniversary and for what Roger Waters calls his swansong, The Wall is back on the road and arrived in Britain to great anticipation for many Floyd fans. Although The Wall the record was a Pink Floyd album, the ideas came mainly from Waters, and the concept was inspired by his infamous spitting incident during a concert. Waters was so dismayed at his behaviour to a fan that the idea of building a physical barrier to the crowd was spawned.Here is a shaky hand-held version from the show:
In the three decades since these concerts were first performed many things have changed including Waters himself, who describes himself during the night as not such a grumpy little shit. Also the expectation from fans has changed. Huge concerts, with explosions and bright lights have been done over and over again. U2 and Muse are now the kings of stadium rock shows. During the first half of 2011’s The Wall, you realise that the visuals are no longer enough to wow, there has to be more to engage modern audiences.
After an explosive start, literally, with crashing aeroplanes, the audience witness the slowly building Wall around the 02 stage, as Waters carries you through the difficult first half of the album. The atmosphere is ramped up for Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) but Mother’s strange duet with a 30 years younger Waters on video doesn’t really work. Previous shows have featured female vocals and have worked better.
As the wall builds, it becomes more and more a screen for the graphics and videos, and strangely as the band disappears behind it, that’s when the show starts to take off. One of My Turns and Don’t Leave Me Now end part one, and the tracks’ painful disclosure of personal torment truly reveal what a dark and at times hateful album it is. The audience is 85 percent male; it’s just as well as the woman hating theme is quite redolent.
The second half of the show starts quietly, with the lovely Hey You, before Waters appears at the side of the wall in a mocked up hotel room for Nobody Home. There’s a poignant video of families united with servicemen played alongside Vera and it’s a perfect way to build to the epic Comfortably Numb. Robbie Wyckoff must be mentioned here, as his lead vocals (shared with Waters) are impressive throughout the night, but supreme here. The next night David Gilmour is the guitarist astride the wall for the solo, sending Floydians into raptures!
Comfortably Numb would normally be a show closer but the album’s not finished and the excellent Run Like Hell keeps the pace up before The Trial brings the show to its famous ending as the ‘judge’ orders the Wall to be demolished. The band then re-appear for the album closer Outside The Wall, but it all feels rather flat. Modern concert goers are used to encores and big show closers. Here there’s just a gentle acoustic strum.
Although 2011 is a very different time to 1979, the messages and anti-war sentiments within the lyrics still resonate and the fantastic animations are beautifully put together. There are some hugely impressive moments but there’s an extra spark missing. After all this show is no longer spectacular, this is normal. Waters has said this is his last tour, but we all know the really spectacular would come with one last adventure for Waters, Gilmour and Mason. Pigs might fly.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
On May 12 in London, at the new 02 Arena, David Gilmour joined Pink Floyd soulmate Roger Waters and the band's drummer, Nick Mason for a semi-reunion of the band that created "The Wall" in 1979. Here is a review leading up to the show: