Roger Waters, The Wall | 10.29.10

The perfect marriage of sound and vision.


Photos: Jon Gitchoff
Scottrade Center, St. Louis
It began with explosions of guitars and pyrotechnics and ended with a bang followed by a quiet hymn, and every moment in between was nothing short of spectacular. Roger Waters, the genius (and voice) behind many of Pink Floyd’s greatest works brought his autobiographical masterpiece, The Wall, to life Friday night at the Scottrade Center to the awe of a packed house of Floyd fans young and old.
Now I must make the disclaimer that I am more than a little biased in reviewing this show. The Wall tops my all time favorite albums list and both the album and film of this rock opera were a tremendous part of my misspent youth. This was the record that every rock fan growing up in the late 70s and early 80s played over and over in our basements and dorm rooms. I had essentially waited my adult lifetime to see this show – and it exceeded every expectation I had from the first moment on.
The stage was set with the iconic white “brick" wall creeping up the arena on either side. As Waters made his way through the album’s tracks, slowly from behind, more bricks were added to the wall, one by one, until the band was playing behind it, peeking out only through holes. All the while, intense and politically charged graphics and video were broadcast across it in a nonstop assault of the senses.
The visuals in this show were absolutely unmatched by anything I have ever seen in 20 plus years of concert going, outside of the rehearsal footage of Michael Jackson’s doomed “This is It” tour, which never happened. Fortunately, the audio was equally as incredible – the perfect marriage of sound and vision. Waters voice still sounds as great as it did all those years ago and his band, including legendary guitarist G.E. Smith, provided more than ample accompaniment.
Sure, there are the purists who cannot imagine any kind of Pink Floyd concert without David Gilmour, but The Wall is and always was all about Waters – it’s his story and one only he can tell. The emotionally charged tale of rock star Pink (Waters’ alter-ego, played to perfection in the film by Bob Geldof), his damaged childhood and his adulthood descent into total isolation played out onstage like it never has before, backed by technology that didn’t exist when the show was first performed live 30 years ago.
During what is probably Floyd’s best-known anthem, “Another Brick in the Wall,” he brought out a group of local school kids to sing the famous chorus “We don’t need no education” to a gigantic Schoolmaster puppet on strings. It was a nice personal touch and the fans loved it.
As the wall’s final bricks were placed, the show followed the album’s format and took a brief intermission. The second half resumed with the wall fully “built,” Waters now in front of it. A small living room scene complete with the TV set, chair and lamp “popped” out of the left side of the wall like a diorama for his performance of “Nobody Home.”
For me personally, nothing could and will ever compare to what most die-hard Floyd fans consider the climax of The Wall, “Comfortably Numb.” This is my all-time favorite song and Waters’ performance of it in front of the wall as incredible graphics filled it literally brought me to tears.
Then, against backdrops of double hammer logos, Waters grabbed the megaphone and trenchcoat for “In the Flesh,” during which the signature Flying Pig emerged from the wings, hovering over the audience on the floor. Everyone in the arena was on their feet for “Run Like Hell,” stomping and pumping their arms in cross-hammer formation, giving way to the army of animated hammers marching across the wall for “Waiting for the Worms.”
I was especially impressed with Waters abilities vocally when it came to the final “The Trial,” in which he sings in multiple character voices (most likely recorded separately for the studio version) – he pulled it off perfectly, standing against the white wall, dwarfed by his animated persecutors. As the fans chanted and screamed the final sentence, “Tear down the wall!,” the wall across the stage came tumbling down to a smoky pile of rubble.
Finally, the full band of musicians aligned onstage (with Waters on trumpet) for the epilogue “Outside the Wall,” before taking their final bows to a standing ovation. Suffice it to say that nearly 20,000 people had their minds completely blown inside the Scottrade Center.
Aside from the sheer magnitude of the show, one of the best parts for me was that Waters seemed truly happy doing it. The tortured and angry young man who this incredible piece of musical history poured out of, and who spent years in heated battles with his former bandmates, seemed finally at peace with his creation and able to really just enjoy it. He looked and sounded great.
If you have a chance to see this tour anywhere else before it ends, make the journey. It is unlikely you’ll see a production this size and scope anytime again soon. With ticket prices running over a hundred bucks apiece, for once I can actually say, it was truly worth every penny. | Amy Burger


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