This run of The Wall will have completed over 190 dates, played to over 3 million people and will gross in the proximity of 300 million dollars by the time it concludes its three year journey in Philadelphia on Bastille Day this coming July. Has Roger Waters picked this as a symbolic date for the closure of this stunning tour of The Wall? Or is it a date to match what could be Rogers freedom from touring as he has stated in recent interviews? Time will tell what sort of liberty Roger is thinking about as he nears his 70th birthday at the end of this tour later in 2012.
With this shadow of finality hanging over this tour you can understand why the cavernous Allphones Arena is filled with The Floyd faithful. This is the rarest of rock and roll gigs that suits this arena perfectly. The ability to project the thousands of images and lights, send out crystal clear audio, and the like all worked seamlessly last night with nary a hiccup to be seen or heard. From the pyrotechnics that burst across the ‘sky’ and stage during “In The Flesh?” (no spitting tonight from Roger that we noted!), to the projections of bombing raids of corporate, religious and political symbols, to the actual building of The Wall during the first half of the performance, it was rock opera at its best.
Roger, his production team and the large crew of musicians, filled our ears and our souls with a message that not only leans heavily on isolation and loss but has become even more politically poignant through the years. The images of the Reuters employees (Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh) being murdered in Iraq and the pictures of people lost in places like Korea, Normandy, 9-11 and around the world posted on The Wall during the intermission were particularly moving and filled your soul with ghosts and darkness. The intermission was more like a wake then a needed break from the intensity of the concert.
This was not your average rock and roll gig. This was an event and a theatrical display that moved you and opened your eyes to the political feelings of one Roger Waters. There was a sense of freedom in the hall last night. I cannot think of a rock and roll show that I have been to where the checking of tickets was so overlooked. As it was a seated gig, like in a theatre, once you had your place you would return, to be bombarded with sound and vision. The significance of the individual performers was overshadowed by the message and the immensity of The Wall and at times it was difficult to tell if we were hearing a recording or people playing. It sounded that good and it looked even better.
Two of the last great guitar solos of the 70’s (“Another Brick In The Wall” & “Comfortably Numb”) were played with perfection and filled the room with the spirit of David Gilmour. David had made an appearance in 2011 with Roger, but made it very clear that he would not be reprising that role anytime soon. But no matter, there was no complaint from anyone assembled here tonight. The backing vocals throughout were spectacular and the harmonies on “The Show Must Go On” displayed why Pink Floyd wanted to work with the Beach Boys when they first recorded this record. Truly, it was that close to surf music.
Highlights like Roger (“ the narcissist”) playing guitar and singing with an amazing projected image of himself from an Earl Court performance in 1980 made sure everything was alright during “ Mother”; the launching of the ubiquitous pig during “The Show Must Go On” had people straining their necks to take it in; the intense animation of the marching hammers during “Waiting For The Worms” and the animation that led up to the finality of tearing down The Wall during “The Trial” are just a few of the images that will continue to play on the movie screen of my mind for some days to come.
With that, the show was almost done, except for one more brief appearance on stage for an acoustic rendition of “Waltzing Matilda” with all the minstrels and the obligatory introductions of the gathered. There was nothing to grumble about and that could be seen in the eyes and faces of the audience as we left the Olympic Park after a truly gold medal performance from a veteran. If this is the last look around the world as a touring musician for Mr. Waters, he has done it in a regal fashion.
I presume within the next few years our next glimpse of The Wall will be on a Broadway stage. The medium will truly work and the message will be just as valuable for decades to come. For now, I don’t think I need anything else at all.
– Paul Busch