A hail of firework explosions, hundreds of large rectangular bricks, crashing planes, enormous puppets, 3-D effects. Surely, this is not your average concert.
Roger Waters’ tour of his seminal album, “The Wall,” lavishes in this Broadway-esque pomp, but never compromises its music for theatrics. This is a rock concert, one that succeeds in transforming Pink Floyd’s brilliant 1979 opus into a compelling aesthetic and auditory experience.
Despite 30 years since the release of the album, Waters still has the voice and energy to deliver high-quality music. Accompanied by a band and small choir at the IZOD Center, the ensemble played the 26 songs from “The Wall” with close adherence to its originals. The ominous guitars on “Hey You” sounded as menacing as ever, “Goodbye Blue Sky” retained its deepest poignancy and “The Trial” executed its avant-garde instrumentation and Waters’ many voices of reproach flawlessly.
The show was not, however, merely a duplication of “The Wall.” Waters had prepared his share of surprises for the crowd, including an extended, hypnotic guitar solo concluding “Another Brick in the Wall Part 1” and a children’s choir during the anthemic outcry, “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2.” There was also the brooding “Mother” on which Waters double-tracked his voice, singing along with footage of his band’s performance from 1980 before breaking out into the song’s cathartic solo.
Other highlights included the wailing guitars and crashing keys on “Empty Spaces,” which captured one of the album’s most claustrophobic moments, and “Waiting for the Worms,” which brought the continuous sense of political dread and disillusion to fruition in its explosive crescendo.
During the songs, all of the famous characters in “The Wall,” the martinet schoolteacher, the overbearing mother and the lascivious wife, appeared in various forms to haunt the protagonist of the film and album, Pink, as he attempted to isolate himself behind his wall. There were also many special effects surprises, which are best left for first-hand witnessing (or at least Youtube watching), especially during what may be the group’s best song of all time, “Comfortably Numb.”
Like it or not, the show was also overtly political; when Waters asked in “Mother” if he “should trust the government,” a resounding “No (expletive) Way” appeared in red graffiti on the massive wall behind him, which was met with ravenous applause from the crowd.
During “The Thin Ice” pictures of deceased soldiers and children from past and present wars covered the wall, while on “Waiting for the Worms” video from the album’s accompanying film, “The Wall,” evoked a fear of totalitarian rule, as an oppressive government blared its propaganda and its belligerent troops, represented as hammers, uniformly marched through the streets.
This performance is a must-see for any classic rock fan. Pink Floyd’s stretch of widely popular albums in the 1970s, “The Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Animals,” and “The Wall,” in addition to other cult favorite LPs, can never be truly recreated; Richard Wright, the group’s innovative keyboardist, died two years ago. And since Waters’ tenuous relationship with guitarist David Gilmour makes any long-term tour unlikely, this is the best chance offered to Floyd fans to hear and visualize the pomp, foreboding, anger and paranoia of one of the group’s most ambitious works.
Kevin Stevens can be reached at email@example.com.