(Photos taken by and displayed courtesy of Tony Wong. Thanks, Tony!)
Went to another concert of Roger Waters performing The Wall on Monday, December 13. My thoughts on the overall themes of the show can be found in a post dated November 30, but this time I’d like to just recount the experience.
I’d gotten tickets via a pre-sale, and all I can say is that my usual bad karma with contests, lotteries, and giveaways was defeated. Floor seats! I’ve never had floor seats in my life! 24th row, dead center. The only problem was that the people in front of us were tall, and that most everyone in our section stood for the entire show (hence I spent a lot of time on tiptoe) but that was a minor annoyance.
Nearly any seat at a show this big is a good one, but there’s something really special about being right there on the floor. You’re able to almost forget that the rest of the venue is there – it’s much more intimate, if a show of this magnitude can be called intimate.
As he has on every night of the tour so far, an actor portraying a homeless man wandered the aisles (a sign in his shopping cart had the words “HOMELESS NEED MONEY FOR HOOKERS AND BOOZE” on one side and the Eisenhower quote used later in the show on the other). I was able to say hello and shake hands with Mr. Homeless Guy, who in turn complimented me on my shirt (I was wearing my fangirl jacket). And I couldn’t help it – during the preshow portion when dialogue from Spartacus was played, I yelled out, “I’m Spartacus and so is my wife!” Well, the people in front of me laughed.
In the Flesh?
At the 11/29 show, the opening of this song made me let out a startled yelp, much to the amusement of my seatmates. Same thing happened on 12/13, with much less excuse. It’s so loud, and when you’re so close to the stage the pyrotechnics make it look like the stage is exploding. My head was constantly swiveling at the end as I looked from the stage to search for the crashing plane, back to the stage again, etc. Wowza.
The Thin Ice
The sound cut out briefly during this song, but only for a couple seconds. That was the only technical glitch (only one noticeable to me, anyway). The photos of fallen loved ones are still haunting on a second viewing. I found it interesting that one of the photos was of a soldier in the Wehrmacht, and that the tribute was not restricted to those on the “winning” or “good” side. Think of the soldiers in All Quiet on the Western Front – they were ordinary guys just like ours, who just wanted to get through this and get home to their families.
Another Brick in the Wall Part 1
This song always gets overlooked because of its flashier and more well-known brethren, but the hypnotic music and the visuals of an endless panning shot over what seems to be a red-tinted sea are quite effective.
The Happiest Days of Our Lives
The first and perhaps the best demonstration of the show’s remarkable use of misdirection. While helicopter sounds play, spotlights probe the audience. Which means that while the audience members are doing the “me me me, put me in the spotlight” thing, the crew can get the teacher puppet inflated and give it a dramatic entrance.
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2
Having the kids from local schools join the performance is one of several ideas that I wouldn’t have thought would have worked, but did.
Roger’s duet with footage of himself from the Wall shows in 1980 proves, if nothing else, that time has been extremely kind to him. And his remarks that the duet might seem a bit narcissistic? Still funny.
Goodbye Blue Sky
Now that I’m used to the new animation, I’m OK with it. At any rate, I understand and respect the point it’s making. In a strange way, the use of corporate, religious, and monetary symbols remind me of the animated short Black Hula. I think Roger should have included a McDonald’s symbol, though.
What Shall We Do Now?
Always amazing, and the added projections on the wall during the flower sequence are well done.
Someone described the visuals for this song as being like a James Bond movie credit sequence, only with the women visible instead of silhouetted. Sounds about right. I figure Roger realized that with no woo-woo girls along to provide eye candy, he’d offer up some T&A. Wasn’t that thoughtful? On a musical note, kudos to Harry Waters – I never knew a Hammond organ could sound so raunchy.
One of My Turns
I felt like the staging was missing something. I liked what he did in the Berlin show, when he trashed the “hotel room”. I can see how destroying several guitars a night for a few months running might get cost-prohibitive, though.
Don’t Leave Me Now
This works much better live than I thought it would. The woman’s image turning into this eyeless thing was well done – has Roger been watching Japanese horror films lately? It seemed a very J-horror image.
Another Brick in the Wall Part 3
By now the wall is nearly complete, and the entire stage area is one big screen. A TV image is smashed, then becomes three images. Smashed again, even more images, all with different information. Then it becomes a blur of babble and information, at such high speed that most of it is almost subliminal.
The Last Few Bricks
This instrumental interlude while the last bricks are put into place is one of my favorite parts of a live performance of the Wall. It’s a reiteration of the musical themes that got us here so far.
Goodbye Cruel World
I need to amend my earlier blog post. Waters doesn’t put in the last brick (he’s got his hands full with a microphone) but it is put in from the inside. Thus I stand by my interpretation that the wall-building is an internal thing.
Even in the 24th row I’m not able to read much of the information about Fallen Loved Ones that displays during intermission. My eyes were never that great and they aren’t improving with age. Still, I was able to tell that the people represented here are from conflicts ranging from World War 1 to the present day, and are not just soldiers but political activists and civilians as well.
During intermission I also got to meet fellow fans Tony Wong (who took the awesome photos you see on this post) and Simon Wimpenny. Good to meet you guys, and I hope I didn’t come off as a babbling fool.
I can’t imagine what novices of the show must think with this one. “What? Are they doing the whole rest of the show behind the wall?” I love the sequence that makes it look like we’re peering within the wall, and that freakish animated creature who runs and swipes at the audience. He scared more than a few people, judging by audience reaction.
The “hotel room in the wall” effect is great and very well realized this time.
This song has always been filler on the album, but the images of kids being reunited with fathers home from (presumably) Iraq are very moving. It seemed to get awfully dusty in the Honda Center, there was something in my eye…
Bring the Boys Back Home
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight D. Eisenhower
David Gilmour didn’t play at this show either.
The Show Must Go On
Another song that works much better in the live setting than it does on the album. Kudos to Robbie Wyckoff and the woo-woo boys for a stellar job.
In the Flesh
It probably shouldn’t be so thrilling that the show and the character of Pink has gone to the dark side, but damn if this isn’t amazing spectacle on every level. Yes, I was there doing the hammer salute and begging for the spotlight.
Run Like Hell
I’ve no quibbles with the Waters-less Pink Floyd, but it’s very nice to see Run Like Hell reclaimed from its status as Floyd v3.0’s rollicking crowd-pleaser and become the “song for all the paranoids in the audience” that it’s meant to be. The “i” motif is very clever, especially the “iPaint” for an image of Hitler and “iPay” for a graveyard. And the famous Floyd flying pig, now decorated with graffiti, hovers over the audience – indeed, right above my head. Oh, if I only were taller I could have touched it…
Waiting for the Worms
Shit gets real. The images of the marching hammers fill the screen (and if you’re sitting where I was, your entire field of vision). It’s rather frightening, and reminds me of the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence in Fantasia, when the brooms are wreaking havoc – the same feeling of things going out of control.
Maybe Roger should move with the times and retitle this as “Intervention.” Sorry, I’m getting punchy.
Of all the elements that have carried over from the original stage show, the trial animation seems to have aged the least well. There’s nothing wrong with it, per se. I may just be tired of it after three decades. Nice to see the reappearance of scary Hey You guy, this time with an “iHate” graffiti that nicely illustrates self-loathing. Hearing thousands chant “Tear down the wall” and watching the wall itself come down are every bit as thrilling and cathartic as I’d hoped they would be.
Outside the Wall
Yet another image that shouldn’t work but does: with the wall torn down, on Mr. Screen we see a silhouette of a ballerina descend slowly from above; she releases a handful of helium balloons, which fly away, then she does a curtsy and stands with arms upraised. It’s a strange image of hope and relief, and though odd is perfect for the end of such an evening.
What can I say? Probably one of the best shows I've ever seen or will ever see.