“Roger Waters The Wall Live” is not so much a concert, as it is an Experience for Thee Ages! “The Wall” is a rock opera which tells the story of rock-n-roll star’s life, his downward spiral into insanity and his personal battle to free himself from the mental prison that he has created. The Wall itself is built by a series of life altering events that drive the main character “Pink” slowly into madness as he sits in a catatonic state in his hotel room reflecting on his life.
At the beginning of the show I walked into an electric atmosphere of anticipation and, as the lights dimmed, the venue instantaneously became a lawless smoke out as the Burlacious Gange Bud began a Blazin! And even if you were not planning to use mind altering substances that evening, there was no way to avoid the chronic contact high from the smoggy air which persisted throughout the shows duration!
As I settled into my seat, no more than a few seconds later did a group behind me drop their funny looking hand rolled cigarette onto the floor next to me, and thus a mad egg hunt broke out as the once happy concert goers, went into panic mode scouring the terrain for their missing treasure!…I became their savior, when I picked up the tightly wound Zig-Zag and asked emphatically “Does this belong to you!”…They looked at me as if I had just discovered Thee El Dorado Mother Load, and insisted that I take my share of the spoils. I gracefully declined their offer, but after experiencing the burning sensations which were exuding from the row behind me, it only took one more twist of the arm from theses chuckle-heads, for me to feel obligated to take them up on their most gracious offer. And thus an evening of paranoia, tears, euphoria, elation and happiness began!…
Powerful describes the shows introduction as they performed “In The Flesh”, which represents the berth of the character “Pink”, with Roger Waters making his entrance onto the stage to a standing ovation. As the opening number came to its crescendo, an amazing display of pyrotechnics exploded from everywhere, ending with a giant World War II model airplane flying across the crowd, crashing into the wall, with a fiery explosion. The War plane crashing represents the death of “Pink’s” father.
“Pink’s” reflection on his life begins as they play “Thin Ice”…what’s interesting about this part of the evening is that on his website, Roger Waters made a request for people to send pictures of their fallen love ones. He used these images of real people who had lost there lives to war and infused them into this new vision of The Wall. He described his new adaptation “As an act of Remembrance” and hundreds of pictures that were sent in appeared on “The Wall” during this moving sequence along with an image of Water’s fallen father Eric Waters, who was killed in action during World War II in 1944.
The next number “Another Brick in The Wall Part 1? is a reflection of the childhood years of the character “Pink.”…The tone of this song is mellow with a tone of confusion. In thee original story, “Pink” feels alienated from other children because he doesn’t have a father…The new visual adaption changes the identity of “Pink”…It would seem that the new and improved “Pink” character represents any child who’s father or mother was killed due to war. This leads me to believe that Waters new vision is trying to show that children are the ones who are most affected by war and that the tragic story of “The Wall” could happen to anyone.
After the band performed the prelude “Happiest Days of Our Lives”, which describes how children are not allowed free thinking in the schools and are molded to think alike, they broke into thee infamous pop hit, Another Brick in The Wall part 2. This song represents the rebellious mind of “Pink” questioning the way he is being taught by his teacher. Waters enlisted local area children from Fort Lauderdale’s Dillard School of the Arts,who were all dressed in identical black t-shirts that said in bold white letters “FEAR BUILDS WALLS”, to perform the chorus and act out the part of “Pink’s” school days. The crowd, ecstatic watching the giant puppet schoolmaster dangling from rafters, danced in thee isles and sang along to every word… “We Don’t Need No Education!”
The show itself was a visual experience, to say the least, with Roger Water’s injecting current events into the scheme of thee event. When the group performed “Mother” and sang the verse “Mother should I trust the government”, the words “No Fucking Way” appeared on the right side of The Wall to a roaring crowd! This absolutely blew away the mind as the words, in Pink Floyd’s The Wall style calligraphy, came into light one by one …”No…Fucking…Way.”
At the beginning of the song Waters told thee audience that he was going to use technology to do a bit of time traveling. As he started playing, a gigantic projection of himself, when he was much much younger, was playing the same song. His present day self and his younger self from the Pink Floyd’s The Wall tour in 1980 played a duet together…this was absolutely brilliant!
Dissecting the meaning of the song “Mother” is fairly simple. In the movie “Pink’s Floyd’s The Wall” the character “Pink’s” adolescent mind is questioning authority. Waters new vision is made quite clear when midway through the song an animated giant surveillance camera appears on the center circular screen. The camera appears throughout the song along the words “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” on the right side of The Wall. This is in reference to the George Orwell novel “1984?, which is a book about a government controlling thought. As the song progresses you see an “X” appear cover the “B” in Brother and an “M” appear just above thee x-ed out “B”…now instead of it reading “Big Brother is Watching You”, it now reads “Big Mother Is Watching You.”…in summation, the character “The Mother” in Waters new vision of the wall, is the government.
Next came probably the most controversial moment of the night when they played “Goodbye Blue Sky.” This haunting ballad was highlighted by images of B-52 Bombers dropping religious, economic & political symbols as bombs. I was mesmerized by the philosophical meaning behind this and I can remember saying to myself “Wow…that was deep!”…I later found out, by visiting rogerwaters.com, that Waters, has taken serious heat for these haunting images from The Anti Defamation League who have made accusations that his new visual adaptation to the song “Goodbye Blue Sky” represents anti-semitism…That interpretation could not be any further from the truth!…Here is a quote from Roger Waters that defends these ridiculous accusations…
“The point I am trying to make in the song is that the bombardment we are all subject to by conflicting religious, political, and economic ideologies only encourages us to turn against one another, and I mourn the concommitant loss of life.”
If you are not familiar with how The Wall works, as the band is playing, stage hands are continuously adding bricks, closing up the band behind The Wall. This symbolizes the mind of the character “Pink” slowly drifting away from reality and his disconnect from society. The show is in continuous motion as you interpret the visual experience, with each individual in thee audience relating it to their own life. The Bricks are the building blocks of life that shape who you are and The Wall, is a visual interpretation of “Pink’s” Life and the causality of his insanity. This was ever apparent as the band played the songs “Empty Spaces” and “What Shall We Do Now?”
Waters used the classic animated footage designed by Gerald Scarfe from “Pink Floyd’s The Wall” as the visual aid for the songs “Empty Spaces” and “What Shall We Do Now?”…as “Empty Spaces” begins, vines from the left & right of The Wall start grow and wind there way towards the center and then the vines make an upward turn into the center circular screen where they turn into flowers. The Flowers then take the shape of male and female sexual organs and proceed to have intercourse with each other…this is a visual representation of Pink’s wife in an act of adultery, which is a key factor in the building of The Wall around him.
This is too much for “Pink” to handle and turns his fragile state of mind into hatred. As the song moves forward into “What Shall We Do Now?” we see the disturbing image of The Wall smashing through and obliterating a church. This represents the sanctity of his marriage being destroyed.
Next was The sleezy number “Young Lust.” This is a song that is pretty much self explanatory. After “Pink” realizes that his wife is having an affair, he looks to fill the void (The Wall) by seeking out the company of other women and visually images of beautiful topless females appear on The Wall.
As the song ends we here the sounds of an operator placing a collect call for “Pink” and a mail voice answers the phone…”Hello”…”This is a collect call from Mr. Floyd to Mrs. Floyd”…the man hangs up the phone…the operator attempts to reconnect with the same result. This is the beginning of “Pink’s” demise having realized that another man is at his home in bed with his wife. The wall is now nearly completely built as “Pink” begins his journey into a deep state of depression.
Not too change the subject, but I had my own mini-wall experience that made me lose my train of thought. Some gate crashing loon trying to get away from thee ushers rudely jumped into the vacant seat next to me… Rather then watch the show in all it’s grandeur, this moron decided he would rather watch me for some unknown reason!…It looked as if he wanted to hold my hand and make out!…After laying down the signals for this meat-head to piss off & clewing him into the fact that a show was actually going on, this douche bag finally got the message. This ironically happened to occur while “One of My Turns” was being played, but by this time, the gift mind enhancement which I had received from my newly acquired single serving friends behind me, turned into paranoia!…Talk About a Buzz Kill!
“One of My Turns” is a song that carries over from “Young Lust”, when “Pink” brings a rock and roll groupie back to his hotel room. “Pink” goes into a state of rage while she’s there as he takes out his anger for his wife’s infidelity on the poor unsuspecting girl…yet more bricks are added to the wall.
After his destructive out burst is threw and the groupie has fled the hotel room, Pink’s loneliness becomes ever apparent when they perform the song “Don’t Leave Me Now.” The song is a reflection of Pink’s depressed state as he is tortured by the thought of his wife leaving him for another man. This is a soliloquy speaking to the memory his wife, well actually he is talking to himself, asking her “How could you leave me this way.” Pink hallucinates his wife as an evil green skinned fiery red haired insect. In the movie she transforms into a scorpion, but in this live performance this is visually represented by a giant half human/half preying mantis puppet that dangles from the left side of The Wall.
The most powerful songs of the concert, in my opinion, was when they performed “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 3? and “Last Few Bricks.”….These songs are symbolic of “Pink’s” aggravated mind putting all the bricks together to complete the wall. These songs reveal “Pink’s” true hatred of everything that has occurred in his life and his intention to disconnect himself from society. This can be heard in one of the verses when Waters sings “Don’t think I need Anything At All.”…and “All in all it was just bricks in the wall.” The wall, a mammoth structure standing 33 feet high straddling the radius of the arena, was now completely built…all except for one brick…
And Fortunately for my sanity, the band played “Goodbye Cruel World” placed the last brick in the wall as “Pink” said goodbye, and the show went to intermission…so I left my seat behind and headed outside to the patio for some fresh air to get my mind right.
For the second half of the show, I decided that there was no way I was returning to the seat that, once upon a time, I had been happy with. Of course this was due to the strange golem who now resided there. So I took myself for a closer view down onto the floor. At first, I went all the way to the back to absorb the full spectrum of thee event, and enjoyed the opening number “Hey You.”
“Hey You” represents “Pink’s” mind trapped behind his own wall and how he longs to be normal again. Throughout the song “Pink” is making pleas to his once normal self, who is on thee other side of the wall, for help which, I believe, reveals “Pink” to have a split personality.
The next song “Is There Anybody Out There?” signifies that “Pink” has now completely lost his mind and is now trapt behind “The Wall”…this is the beginning of “Pink’s” inner child wandering through his memories (bricks in the wall) in attempt to understand the reason why he is trapt behind The Wall and why it was built.
The next number is quite interesting as Water’s playing the role of “Pink” appears within The Wall itself as a brick. He is sitting in a chair in his hotel room watching TV. He sings the song “Nobody Home” which is about his inner child watching the memory of himself attempting to make contact with his estranged wife and how he locked himself away from thee outside world in his hotel room.
The most moving moment of the evening occured when played the song “Vera.” In the movie “Pink Floyd’s The Wall”, as a child, “Pink” is seen visiting a train station where soldiers are returning from World War II and he is looking for his father. In this Water’s new adaptation to The Wall, they show a young girl sitting in her classroom when suddenly her face turns into a ghostly state of shock. The girl then stood up and went into a state tears as her father greeted her with an enormous hug in his military uniform, having just returned from serving his country in a foreign war. I saw many people around me bust into tears and, I have to admit, a tear came to my eye as well with the song moving forward into “Bring The Boys Back Home.”
During “Bring The Boys Back Home” a speech from Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 was splashed in segments onto The Wall…
“Every gun that is made,
every warship launched,
every rocket fired,
in the final sense,
from those who hunger
and are not fed,
those who are cold
and not clothed.”
The venue became euphoric when the band released everyone’s inhibitions by performing the timeless classic “Comfortably Numb”…I don’t know if it was part of the special effects or what…but a weather pattern formed in the confines of the arena when a mysterious cloud formation rose up from out of thee audience…I swear you could eat thee air & it tasted like Timothy Leary’s home-made brownies!
While the song “Comfortably Numb” is playing during the movie “Pink Floyd’s The Wall”, “Pink” is completely catatonic locked up in his hotel room. A doctor injects drugs with a hypodermic needle into his arm, thus we hear the line…”Just A Little Pin Prick.” The drugs transforms “Pink’s” hallucinogenic state of mind into an alter ego of pure hatred in the form of a fascist dictator. As for when they played the song in the concert, I was disappointed that they failed to show any visual aid to clue thee audience into “Pink’s” mental transformation, which is absolutely necessary to understand the next chapter in the story. Unless you had seen the movie you would not understand the next scenes. It would seem that Roger Waters was intentionally avoiding any display of drug use in his new adaptation of “The Wall.”
For the next scene, I made my way towards the front and settled into a seat approximately 20 rows back. The band and “Pink’s” army emerged from behind The Wall dressed in their mock militant attire & “Pink” (Roger Waters), the Fascist Dictator, proceeded to lay down the law as they performed “In The Flesh 2?…To finish the number, Waters was handed a movie prop machine gun from one of his militant goons and proceeded to fictitiously shoot & mow down people in the audience…Oh and I almost forgot, all this time, a Giant Pig was floating overhead…Go Figure!
Before the next song began, the surrounding area was illuminated and I could see all the mayhem that was going on around me. It looked like the scene out of “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” when all the people in the casino turned into giant lizards!…The Pink Floyd faithful were carrying on like it was a party at The Mad Hatter’s table in Alice in Wonderland, smoking anything they could get their hands on…The ushers & security appeared to have their hands full attempting to get the audience to put out their cigarettes (both kinds!), but in the end I tend to believe they just gave in and focused on keeping people out of thee isles…The only thing I was surprised not see, was a Giant Bong!…Roger Waters then spoke to the crowd and instructed his disciples to….”Enjoy Yourselves!” as the band broke into the song “Run Like Hell”…The crowd went into, what I describe to be…Pure Elation!
The final chapter of the show, takes you deep into the mind of “Pink” and allows you taste what his insanity has truly become. The final phase begins with “Waiting for The Worms” and “Stop” and climaxes with “The Trial” which reflects just how far “Pink” has lost his marbles!…With all thee updating that Waters infused into the show to make it relate to current events in the world, I was very pleased to see that he did not change the visuals for “The Trial.” It was kept identical to the movie “Pink Floyd’s The Wall” as they projecting Gerald Scarfe’s animated scenes from the film onto the backdrops.
“Waiting For The Worms” shows just far off the deep end “Pink” has gone as we see “Pink’s” alter ego (Roger Waters), the fascist dictator, has taken total control of his mind with a bull horn instructed his army of goons how to carry out his master plan of destruction. The Worms are symbolic of the decay of society. As we see thee infamous hammers marching in unison on the screen…we here “Pink” break all the mayhem going with the word “Stop!”…and then a single white light shined to reveal a pink doll sitting on top of The Wall. “Stop” is when “Pink” has an epiphany and discovers that he might be guilty for creating the wall that has imprisoned his mind and the people and events in life were not the ones to blame…thus “Pink” jumps down from the top of The Wall & goes directly into “The Trial.”
“The Trial” itself is not an actual trial, but merely hallucinations in the mind of “Pink” and the characters that appear are figments of his imagination. What actually is occurring is “Pink” is putting himself on trial for thee events that have transpired throughout his life and this insane kangaroo court in his mind will decide whether or not he will be released from his mental prison cell. After hearing the testimonies from the schoolmaster, the wife and the mother, The Judge hands down the sentence to “Tear Down The Wall”…And with a series of explosions, The Wall, a pinkish red color, came crashing down onto the stage and “Pink” is set free from his prison cell of insanity!
Moments later roadies cleared a portion of the walls remnants from the destruction and then thee entire band came out. With red confetti falling onto our heads, the band performed the final song of the evening, “Outside The Wall”…When the song was through, Roger Waters said “Thank You” to thee audience and I clearly remember hearing numerous people shouting back “Thank You” to Rodger Waters…It was happiness that the crowd was projecting back at Roger, happiness that “Pink’s” suffering had come to end and, most importantly, happiness that they had just witnessed one of the greatest rock-n-roll shows of all time…And personally, I was hoping that they would come back for an encore presentation and perform another classic Pink Floyd album in its entirety, “The Final Cut”…well….maybe some other time…but I too was extremely happy!…In fact, I would have to say, it was the greatest concert I have ever seen!
See Ya on The Flipside!