I’ve been listening to the music of Pink Floyd for as long as I can remember and as result of this, their epic concept album “The Wall” has remained one of my personal favorites for many, many years. Historically speaking when “The Wall” was first toured for by Floyd, there were not a lot of shows done based on the incredibly daunting production that it was. It was 1980 when it initially came to the United States and I remember that even my Mother wanted to check this one out and bring me along. At the time I was still relatively new to live concerts but sadly we never ended up getting tickets so the show would not be something I could reflect upon at this point in time. I’ve surely made up for lost time as a music scribe and that made being on point to see Waters deliver his magnum opus with his solo band at the no longer new Yankee Stadium something that I was very much looking forward to. The musician made sure to get two shows arranged for the region and that was a very good thing to find happening. I attended the Friday evening performance which went something like this.
The Wall was set up already of course and the arriving fans were treated to the enormous visual that spanned from one side of the stadiums back field to the other. Some of the bricks had even reached into the stands and that was just an amazing visual which really tended to lose a little something if you were standing too close. There were numerous platforms and once the house lights went out and the first chords of “In The Flesh” began it was not unlike a fast paced thrill ride for the senses. Two military personnel had first done some miming with a large puppet that I assume was “Pink” like in the concepts story and when his defiant fist found him crumpled on the ground near the attending media it was on. Roger appeared to thunderous applause and donned a uniform of his own as he took us through the introductory piece. Platforms elevated banner holding soldiers and The Wall transformed into a giant multi-media video screen at the same time. Unbelievable and a presentation that found my jaw dropped and heart beating faster than was healthy. It had begun.
When “The Thin Ice” began we saw The Wall broadcasting numerous images of fallen soldiers and the larger screen behind him even showed you his father who was killed back in WWII. Waters lined this story out in “When The Tigers Broke Free” and this found me wondering if he would actually add this song to the show itself for the tour. He would not of course and I found that a shame because it might have added to the overall impact of the larger than life ideas being put out there. I want to stress how Waters employed the use of images and narrative that were submitted by the fans in terms of war losses and those who were killed based on the cruelty of war itself. As someone who also had a relative killed in WWII so many years ago I felt that a profoundly moving idea to execute. Good job Mr. Waters. The visual And aural stimulation continued when a large puppet of the teacher made its appearance along with a few dozen school children as “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” started to play. I had heard reports that Waters selected the children at random before the show and let me tell you that not one of them seemed a bit nervous as they danced to the music and sang along in front of over 35,000 people.
Before he began “Mother”, Mr. Waters lined out how he was going to play the song today with a younger version of himself that was recorded back in 1980. The Wall and some other background screens showed the younger Roger while the Waters of today was right in front of us in 3D. I found it so interesting to see this being done and know that it had to take a lot of clever timing to not mess it up. As he sang a large and foreboding Mother figure looked down on us with a disapproving scowl. Powerful imagery to the song for sure. When he said the line about “Mother Should I Trust The Government”, a large “NO!” shined brightly and let us all know how distrusting of our political figures Waters is. Who can blame him these days. Now while I can speak about every single song being delivered this evening I will choose not to because “The Wall” is one of those albums that no matter how many times I play it, will always let it run from the beginning to the end. The sound of the show was impeccable and that was thanks to the manner in which it had been set up. There appeared to be speakers everywhere around you and that meant you were not just having the tunes blasted out to you in the front but they looped around behind and aside you making this a full sensory experience. I had to give them credit for pulling this off in an outdoor uncovered stadium. I saw Pink Floyd when they performed at the old Yankee Stadium and while I loved the show I did not love the often muddle sound that was reaching me way up in the rafters. I was positive that everyone heard every single melody without flaw tonight. Kudos to the technical team for that.
After the first “side” of the album was played I felt myself zoning out into the music all the more. It was just too deep and too emotional a presentation. The singer first delivered this release to us as a man tired of the society around him and his feeling of being isolated but now it was coming back as something different. We are all blocked by The Wall in some sense in our lives. This idea was being presented in spades as the “space” we saw the performers on was slowly being taken away by new bricks being added and after the powerful “One Of My Turns” to the sorrowful “Don’t Leave Me Now” we soon found Roger singing “Goodbye Cruel World” as the final brick was set into place and the audience saw nothing but white. You could have heard a pin drop for that single second before the applause led us into the intermission. I watched many fans remain in their places but others wandered stunned around the stadium lobby to get another drink or some food before the second act would begin.
“Hey You” would bring us all back into the action and as I just mentioned the stadium now had a full sized Wall in front of the audience which meant more screen visuals and projections along with clever puppets and balloons. I was not complaining because I was now at a faraway enough vantage point to observe the proceedings from afar. I had a decent seat for the show but after a quick “need some space” break, I remained just out of the circle of space I had been in which while farther away let me fully absorb the incredible nature of the presentation. This was massive and at times Roger or his band would be almost invisible. I had wondered how the fans way up in the top tiers were doing but I guess they were fine just the same. The second part of “The Wall” has a number of the classic rock radio hits so they kept things moving swiftly along. “Nobody Home” brought some folks to subtle sobs while “Bring The Boys Back Home” found everyone singing along at the top of their lungs especially if they had loved ones in active combat at the time. “Comfortably Numb” saw the puppet from the beginning of the show returning and sitting atop The Wall some thirty or forty feet above the crowd while Harry Waters sang the lead vocals for it down below. We also saw the image of guitarist G.E. Smith playing the leads from up there when it was time to do that. Visually this was a lot to take in.
The final album side to me always felt like a motion picture when I used to listen to it even before it became a film and seeing it delivered on the stage was finding me thinking this would even work well as a large-scale Las Vegas event. “The Show Must Go On” has always felt like the beginning of the wrapping it all up for the listener as it brings you into “In The Flesh” part two and we learn how our principle character is out of commission for the duration. “Run Like Hell” is one of the best live songs that the Pink Floyd group had in their repertoire and of course Team Waters were exceptional at presenting it themselves. One fan mused aloud why there were three guitarists with Roger while originally he only needed one in David Gilmore but I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders in reply as I sipped a cold beer on this hot summer night. Atmospherically speaking this was a perfect night for a show. There was enough of a breeze hitting us to not make it uncomfortable which was a very good thing since we had some scorchers already and this was only the beginning of July. The closing pieces of “The Wall” feature the dramatic trial which we found presented in animation on The Wall and while this all led to some animated wall destruction the space that had been built up was knocked back down and we saw more of the musicians once again.
Roger would play the trumpet during “Outside The Wall” and then join all of his musical mates at the center stage for bows. The show was now over but was something that I do not think that anyone present will soon forget.
The second show would happen the next day and while my Smartphone told me then forecast was rain, I was hoping that whatever powers may be above us were music fans and kept this at bay so as not to ruin it for the next group of fans. To say that this show blew me away is an understatement. This was by far one of the best presentations that I had seen in years and one that I really want to see find its way to DVD soon. Yes it will be different based on the overall size of the event but to own this in the Blu-ray format and watch at home on a big television will be awesome. Thank you very much Roger Waters for bringing this show to NYC and pulling out all the stops in order to do it best.
The Band:Roger Waters (Bass, Guitar, Lead Vocals); Graham Broad (Drums); Dave Kilminster, G.E. Smith, Snowy White (Guitars); Jon Carin, Harry Waters (Keyboards); Robbie Wyckoff (Lead Vocals); Jon Joyce, Mark Lennon, Michael Lennon, Kipp Lennon (Backing Vocals)
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Official Web Site: www.roger-waters.com
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