Like most forty plus year olds, I never had the opportunity to see Pink Floyd with the Waters/Gilmoure version at it’s helm. When the ability to see Roger Waters on his solo performance of The Wall was announced I was less than moved. Don’t get me wrong, I love Waters as much as the next person. It’s just that it wasn’t Floyd without Gilmore. As time went on and I read more and more about the production that was due to come into Pittsburgh on September 26th, 2010, I became more and more curious. Some inner voice told me that I could not miss this show, that it would be mind blowing, that it would be my last shot to see what may be the final tour of least one of the original Pink Floyd members. I owe that voice a tall pint.
Mark Fisher, the architect of the tour, and Marc Brickman, the lighting director, help Waters pull off a performance that can only be described as grandiose and jaw dropping. The ultra high def LCD’s that project on the Wall of the stage proved to be a very important member of the band.
The visions of cartoonist Gerald Scarfe (who contributed much to the 1982 film version of The Wall) fill the brick screen like an ominous nightmare coming to life and engulfing your perception of reality.
The key to Waters keeping his masterpiece relevant is the updating of the message within the lyrics. Waters used Facebook to connect with fans who had loved ones lost in various wars. He employs art that takes a shot at our obsession with consumerism by bombing the world with corporate logos and religious symbolism during “Goodbye Blue Sky”. The projections also include more modern and political work by radical London based artist Banksy.
There are so many elements to Waters performance that it is hard to truly express the experience in words. For the first time in my life the expression of jaw dropping was especially true and literal. After hundreds and hundreds of shows I have a new number one that will have a very hard time being replaced.
The opening of “In the Flesh” was like a knock out punch from Tyson. The references to Hitler era Germany and the fear only imagined when reading Orwell’s 1984 guide the vision that included a quarter built wall, spinning pyro, and giant red waving flags backed by a pitch perfect sound system. Even at 67, Waters voice was strong and paired well with Robbie Wyckoff’s vocals and Dave Kilminster’s guitar work standing in for Gilmour. Some other band members of note are guitarist G.E. Smith of SNL and Hall & Oates fame, Harry Waters (Roger’s son) on keyboard, as well as Roger himself playing a stellar bass.
A few words from Steelesque’s Rob Eldridge….
Roger Waters proves to be one of the most innovative musicians of our generation. His ability to use multimedia presentations to drive home common topics such as war, paranoia, politics, deception and even lust deserves lifelong applause. His mind is brilliant and his demonstration of imagery with neatly placed messages is second to none. As grandiose as his production is, it is purposeful and not for just for show. “The Wall” concept clearly reflects a sense of isolation for the pseudo-protaganist and he stood alone. Waters was able use his metaphorical wizardry to create a huge art show with a intermission to catch your breath. Being musician myself this whole experience proves to be humbling to me. Being envious of his vision and ability to deliver is something I’m proud to admit. I can honestly say that this experience will change my perspective on music and conceptualized art. This was the best way for us to demolish our ‘wall’ and look beyond our mundane existence. Thanks Roger…..we appreciate your genius.
The YouTube clips were recored with my iPhone 4 in the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on 09-26-2010.