I will always remember October 3rd, 2010 as an extremely important day in my life; it was the day my mind was blown wide open by Roger Waters’ performance of “The Wall.”
There were giant, inflated “Mothers” and angry “Teachers” staring you down with vicious blood red eyes, airplanes and helicopters flying unregulated throughout the arena, wild explosions, and an on-stage “Wall” the size of a football field displaying ultra high definition video projections. It was breathless and breathtaking. There was laughter and there were tears. Singalongs and epic guitar solos. And still, there was the music that was written decades ago but is still relevant today, of one Roger Waters, and his masterpiece, “The Wall.”
What you need to understand first is that this is hardly a rock show. This is a two hour journey I can only describe as a “thing.” It is not a concert but it’s not an opera either. It’s not the theater or the cinema. Some may call it a rock opera, but it varies too much from the traditional definitions of “rock opera,” “rock,” or “opera.” In execution and in scale, Roger Waters’ tour of “The Wall” stands alone.
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What this show is not is another washed-up geezer playing tired old songs to a sold out arena of tired old fans. Through Waters’ genius and creativity, “The Wall” transcends generations and seamlessly blends vintage 1970’s Pink Floyd props and theatrics with a message relevant to 2010. While the cross generational lyrics have always made the album a commercial success, it is Waters’ determination to create a live modern masterpiece (which he does) that makes the show worth seeing today. At 67 years young, Waters is still pushing the boundaries of rock music and live performance.
Without divulging into fine details, “The Wall,” released in 1980, is a concept album about a man named “Pink.” Pink, a rock musician that bears striking personal similarities to Waters, is at the height of his fame and success but is unable to cope with personal demons – a father lost in World War II, a controlling mother, an unfruitful education, a deceitful music industry, and a society dictated by money. Pink becomes increasingly distraught with his life and place in the world and starts building up a personal wall, retreating farther into his thoughts and insecurities. As he descends into a lonely, dark void, Pink develops a maniacal alter-ego for his own rock shows; one resembling an abusive and vicious dictator. Pink’s internal conflict reaches a climax during the song “The Trial,” a loopy six minute performance where the main antagonists – mother, teacher, girlfriend – the sources of Pink’s deepest anxieties and fears, reappear and debate Pink’s sanity in a court of law. Pink, in turn, himself discovers the roots of his insecurities and is promptly ordered by the judge to “tear down the wall.” Pink’s wall collapses and the show ends shortly thereafter.
Ultimately, the beauty of “The Wall” comes forth in the complex layers that Waters established with his lyrics. Through Pink’s insecurities, Waters was able to relay a personal social commentary that stands the test of time – from mothers that are overly controlling to a distrust of government and society. Waters brilliantly applied the same formula to his 2010 tour. Same theme with new filler material. But what you get is an incredibly moving performance – a personal journey – a story that sucks you in and takes you through the highs and lows of life and spits you out a different person than when you arrived at the venue.
This is the must see show of the year, if not the millennium. Prepare for an experience that will split your head in two and leave you begging for more. Ladies and gentlemen, Roger Waters is at it again. See tour dates here.