Friday, May 04, 2012

Roger Waters - The Wall

Thursday night, I went with a pair of my friends to see Roger Waters perform the Wall in its entirety, at the Frank Erwin Center. Without a doubt, this is was the best show of the year for me, so far. In fact, it was the best large arena show that I have ever seen. Matched perhaps only by Porcupine Tree at Radio City Music Hall.

On his website, Roger does a excellent job of explaining why after 30 years, he is now performing this music. The music seems to resonate with many people of my age. While I would describe the Wall as timeless and poignant, I wonder whether anyone under the age of 25 pays it any notice.

My friends had already seen this show two years ago in Houston, so they gave me a rough idea of what to expect. Basically, the show starts promptly at 8PM, and consists of two sets, with an Intermission and no encore. The Wall is performed in its chronological entirety, with the two additional songs not on the album, that were added for the original Pink Floyd tour. The wikipedia article contains a good synopsis of the show, along with a set list (which should be unnecessary for any Pink Floyd fan).


The Band

Roger assembled a fantastic band, some of whom have been playing with him for 30 years. Here's the lineup:

Drums

  • Graham Broad

Guitars

  • Dave Kilminster - also known for his work with Carl Palmer and Keith Emerson in their solo bands.
  • G.E. Smith - the uber-session guitarist. Among other things, known for his work in the Saturday Night Live band, and his tenure as guitarist for Hall & Oates.
  • Snowy White

Keyboards

  • Jon Carin
  • Harry Waters

Lead Vocals

  • Robbie Wyckoff

Backing Vocals

  • Jon Joyce
  • Mark Lennon
  • Michael Lennon
  • Kipp Lennon

Before the Show

I took this shot as we entered the arena, to document the state of the Wall at the beginning of the show. I didn't notice the guy with the shopping cart described in Wikipedia, but we were not seated that close to the floor.

Before the show

The Thin Ice

The opening songs of the show were something to behold, and included pyrotechnics, and a fighter plane model on wires, dive bombing the Wall.

The Thin Ice

Hey Teacher, Leave the Kids Alone!

Of course, if there is any song that defines the Wall, it's Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2. True to form, there was a choir of children brought out to sing the lead vocals. In this shot you can also see one of several large marionettes used during the concert, on the right side.

Another Brick in the Wall

The Last Few Bricks

Throughout the first set, there were 5 or 6 people systematically adding bricks to the wall, which was completely finished at Intermission. The shot below shows the wall with last remaining brick to be added. I found this very striking, as Roger sang with his head sticking out through the last hole. The band remained behind the wall for the entire first set.

Untitled

Intermission and Fallen Loved Ones

For this tour, Roger made an appeal for people to send in photos and a short bio for loved ones who had fallen, as the result of war. Hundreds of these were projected as a slowly changing stream on the wall, throughout the show. It included soldiers, and civilians who perished during the last 75 years of war, starting with WWII and ending with Iraq and Afghanistan. It also included civilians, and first responders who perished during terrorist attacks. The civilians were not restricted to Americans and Western Europeans.

I found myself reading many of these throughout the show, and noted that there were way too many children. I think that personalizing it in this way forces one to look at each one as a tragedy, rather than an anonymous statistic. Several days later, I find myself still thinking about some of these people, and can only hope that a similar impact was made on others.

Intermission

Hey You

After Intermission, the show moved on to some of the more powerful songs from the Wall. The visual contrasts were amazing, and enhanced the music.

Hey You

Comfortably Numb

Proceeding onward, Roger was the first member of the band to come out from behind the Wall. Once again, the visual of him standing alone in the spotlight in front of the wall, was stunning. The lead singer and guitarist played from the top of the wall. I'd say this song was one of the hightlights of the show. (The only way it could have been improved upon would have been for David Gilmour to have been present, like the London show)

Comfortably Numb

Bring the Boys Back Home

I included this shot to show the various ways in which the Wall was used a projection screen.

Bring the Boys Back Home

Waiting for the Worms

For the last segment of the show, the band was completely moved to a stage area in front of the Wall.

Waiting for the Worms

Outside the Wall

The final climax, was seeing the wall collapse. This was amazing. It appears that the bricks were made with foam or light cardboard. You can see some of the bricks laying on the floor of the stage.

Outside the Wall

Standing Ovation

As you can expect, even though there was no encore, the arena was filled with thunderous applause for several minutes. All I can say is, Well done, Roger!

Roger thanked the crowd, and talked candidly about being able to finally enjoy the experience of performing (unlike his younger days, which included the incident that led to his writing the Wall in the first place). I probably couldn't afford it, but if the opportunity arose to see this show again, I'd anxiously do it.

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