“Tear Down The Wall…”
Roger Waters; The Wall, performed at Vector Arena, Auckland February 18, 20, 22 & 23rd 2012
I have anticipated many a concert in my time. And that amounts to some total collection of built up anticipation as I have been to a lot of them; Deep Purple (twice), Joe Satriani, Elton John (twice), Billy Joel, Eurythmics, Ozzy Osbourne, UB40, Kylie Minogue, Joss Stone and Chris Isaak to name a (very) few…but I have never desperately wanted to see a concert as much as this one.
I was introduced to Pink Floyd by a mate when I was about 13 or 14 and took an instant liking to them. Quirky, broody, anarchic. At the time I was learning guitar and to me David Gilmour (we all call him Dave) was technically one of the best in the business with a style and sound that took you away on rivers and clouds and all that other psychedelic stuff it stood for. But as I learnt more and more about the music (I like to know about bands, it helps me understand the music and appreciate it more) I came to answer the most puzzling question in rock music; who is Pink? And to me no one epitomizes Pink more than Roger Waters (we all call him Rog).
While Meddle and The Final Cut remain my two favourite Floyd albums (although the second is only Floyd by association) The Wall has a special place in my musical journey in that it was way different to anything done before or since, and my understanding of the story in the music, as well as behind the music made me feel a real scholar amongst Floyd-ites and could shoot down many a wannabe-part-time listener.
So when it was announced that it was coming to New Zealand, hell, I would have mortgaged the kids to be there (nearly did, but that’s another story).
I went to the last show; the first, and subsequent encores being sold out so quick that a fourth would have been unheard of and it is debatable whether the first show or the last shows are the best. The argument of freshness and excitement by the band against getting it so polished later on. I guess it depends on the musician, and anyone who knows Rog will understand that there may be no bigger example of anal-retentiveness.
Either way, it really wouldn’t have bothered me, unless it was so appallingly bad that it ruined the spectre, just being there and saying I have seen The Wall was enough…and done by one of my greatest idols. And I was not disappointed…
Seated amongst lawyers, housewives, retirees, kids, and plenty of people who have lost a grip on life by over-extrapolating the fusion of drugs and Dark Side of The Moon, one could not help but be pleased, proud even, of the fact that such iconic music has spanned so many instead of being pigeon-holed as it has been by some of my friends. And that this album which has lived as the younger, insignificant brother to Dark Side was so well received and appreciated was testament to the band and their passion.
Starting with the sleepy opening to In The Flesh, the concert exploded into being with a Stuka bomber crashing into one end fo the (actual) wall you knew you were in for a ride…”a sensory overload” I think I read somewhere. And it was.
Obviously for the majority of the crowd Another Brick Pt II (we all shorted the names of the songs) sang like karaoke singers by mumbling thorough the verses and shouting through the chorus at the 12-foot tall teacher but I sat there, edge of the seat, singing (sometimes) quietly my way through the first act, and screaming joy at others that warranted it (i.e. the titties during Young Lust, and ‘balls’ during Mother which in itself got a huge reception to Rog’s question “Mother should I trust the Government?” Take note John!). A huge inflatable mother made herself present slowly shaking her head to each of Rog’s questions.
After an intermission where there appeared more green than a political rally, Rog got straight back into what to me is the more theatrical and dramatic half of the show.
Amongst the songs here we had Bring The Boys Back Home, Hey You and veritable favourites Run Like Hell and Comfortably Numb. I have to credit Waters here as Run Like Hell was a big change in delivery as it was on the album, and by subsequent Floyd tours, and also for the inflatable pig making its way across the arena at such a height that people could actually touch it and read its anti-war slogans. Brilliant. But for me Comfortably Numb was the show stopper. Played at such a volume that my ears bled, the lead break (voted Number 4 of all time) which has in days gone by been shared by Snowy White and the other axe but this time was played almost entirely by Kilminster. A bit disappointing personally, but hey, if that’s the only thing that did upset me, it can’t be all bad!
Throughout the show the 70m long (about 10m high) wall was being constructed on-stage slowly blocking out the band and Waters with pictures of war and carnage (and can’t forget about them titties!) slapped across against war, famine and global brands such as McD’s, Shell, and most funnily done, the i-Generation. And at points the film show was as good, if not better than the music with you sometimes agape at the stunning effects used to help tell the story.
In years gone by (as was the reason behind The Wall) Rog and band would play the second half of the show cut off from the audience but in his own words he is ‘not the cantankerous old bastard you see 30 years ago’ and happily come out front to see out the second half.
And then it came down…at the end of The Trial where Pink is forced to face his peers the wall is toppled over onto (and beyond) the stage in an ear-splitting climax, with the anticlimax of acoustic guitars and accordion “banging you head against some mad bugger’s wall”.
Brilliant, just plain brilliant. If you are near any of the final legs of this tour, go!!! And I am sure, if you are a true fan you will find yourself crying as well, just honored to be there.