I do enjoy a big, theatrical rock show. Roger Waters production of The Wall Live more than qualifies. In fact, it puts just about every other arena show outside Las Vegas to shame.
Entire books have been devoted to The Wall, so I’m not about to wax poetic about the “big” ideas the concept album tackles, including religion, war, fascism, consumerism — you get the point. What I will focus on is how well the rock opera has held up after 30-plus years and the sheer spectacle of the show.
The signature songs still pack a punch. Combined with the audacious production, they’re even more impressive. Another Brick in the Wall, Pt 2 featured a group of local students singing and dancing on stage and a giant air puppet of the headmaster. Waters sang Mother while grainy black and white footage of him performing the song in 1980 aired behind him. Young Lust is still a dirty boogie of a track while Comfortably Numb remains one of the quintessential, soaring and cathartic rock songs. Robbie Wyckoff admirably handled David Gilmour’s portions throughout the show. The minor, interstitial songs pale in comparison to these big numbers, but that’s where the show’s production jumped to the forefront.
The most spectacular aspect of the concert, by far, was the wall itself. Beginning as a sequence of ascending bricks from the edges of the stage, the blocks were gradually filled in throughout the performance of Side 1. By the end of Goodbye Cruel World, the wall was complete and stood several stories high. Side 2, featuring Numb, Hey You, and Run Like Hell was performed predominantly in front of the wall, culminating in its impressive destruction at the end of the show. Other visual treats included a remote controlled, signature Pink Floyd pig floating above the crowd and an endless loop of video blasted on the IMAX-like wall.
It’s rare when you can say that a concert was an experience. Without question, The Wall Live was one.
Were you at the show? What stood out for you?