Roger Waters Presents The Wall, US Airways Center, 5/15/12
Roger Waters Performs The Wall
Maria Vassett Roger Waters performs The Wall last night.
US Airways Center
Tuesday, May 15
The spectacle that is Roger Waters' The Wall tour deserves more than a cursorily run-through. The concert is as much theater and cutting-edge theatrics as it is a musical production, and each aspect deserves -- requires -- equal respect, as the masterful merging of sound, imagery, and imagination went off without a hitch.
See our full Roger Waters Presents The Wall slideshow.
For those not familiar with Pink Floyd's double album The Wall, released in 1979, the story chronicles a fading, troubled rock star dealing with issues of childhood and authority, but with misguided visions of leading a fascist-styled authoritarian society. Pink, as he's known, builds a wall to hold it all in before eventually breaking out in a return to sanity.
Musically, the 11-piece band was pure professionalism. From the backup singers to three guitarists and two keyboardists, every song was tight and spot-on but still carried the power and emotion that made The Wall such a popular recording. Waters moved effortlessly about the stage all night, playing bass or singing -- sometimes standing, other times in more theatrical pose on a chair or couch. He opened the show wearing a military-styled leather jacket, standing at the front of the stage and in front of the partially built wall that extended across the entire arena -- as he sung "In the Flesh." But the jacket quickly came off as the band rolled through "The Thin Ice" and into a searing version of "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)" as warplanes droned across the wall, which served as a giant projection screen.
Maria Vassett Roger Waters, scaling The Wall last night.
"Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" featured 15 local schoolchildren singing the famous "We don't need no education" line and continuing chorus, while pointing at a giant teacher puppet bobbing on the stage. "They come in for the five o'clock soundcheck, then come out and do this. What a great job," Waters said. He was right, they sounded like pros.
Several bricks are added to the wall during all this.
One of the exciting aspects of the show was the use of technology. The viewer is bombarded with images that flash, float or drift in from one side -- they came from all angles, it seemed. Waters was occasionally broadcast live on the wall in such realistic fashion it was almost scary, but dazzling as well. Careful use of color added depth and shape to the wall. It was solid, but seemed to be alive.
"Mother" added a different technological aspect, with Waters singing and playing along with a pre-recorded version of the song captured on the 1979 tour. "I will attempt to double track with the fucked-up, miserable little Roger from all those years ago," Waters said as he synched his acoustic guitar with the vintage Roger, shown in shadowy form across the wall and backing screen. The "experiment" worked well.
More pieces of the wall went up unnoticed just before more images of fighter planes flowed into view signaling "Goodbye Blue Sky."
Be it the images of planes or symbols of wealth, big business (Shell, Mercedes) and religion (crosses) all falling like bombs from those passing planes, graffiti, political images, or shifting shapes, many of these masterful applications can be attributed to Waters' life before Pink Floyd, that of a design-school architecture student. In presenting The Wall, Waters borrows design elements from the likes of Sir Francis Bacon, French filmmaker Christian Boltanski, German expressionist George Grosz and Italy's Superstudios, a late 1960s design center of utopian ideals.