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Friday, May 13, 2011
Is The Wall the greatest piece of musical entertainment ever put together?
The joy on Roger Waters face at the end of this epic performance of The Wall was remarkable.
He confessed to the audience that his well-documented torment before, during and after the original Pink Floyd album release and tour was long gone.
He couldn’t be more delighted to be showing off this masterwork again.
Revisiting The Wall was always going to be stepping on dangerous ground.
There are some moments in musical history that are so legendary they could never be repeated.
The Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1965, Hendrix at Woodstock in 1969, the Hyde Park dates by both the Rolling Stones in 69 and Queen in 76, the 1978 Anti-Nazi League gig by The Clash in Victoria Park a list of one-off musical moments.
All of those are outdoor events. The Wall at Earl’s Court in 1980 and 1981 was a landmark. The ultimate indoor arena concert.
No production before had attemped to tackle live music on such a scale. Building a giant wall the height and width of the stage during the first half and then demolishing it in spectacular fashion as the finale was at the heart of the show, but other legendary moments enhanced the production.
The sight of Dave Gilmour on the top of the wall playing the guitar solos in Comfortably Numb and the hotel room that folded out from the wall for Waters to sing Nobody Home were iconic images.
So the news that Waters was going to do it all again was treated with derision in some quarters and fear in others.
The truth is that Waters’ state of mind has improved dramatically.
A highlight was him singing Mother as a duet with himself – via one of the very few pieces of film footage from the original concerts, which was projected onto the wall. He refers to his younger self, with a wry grin as ‘miserable little Roger’.
The show has been brought up to date with its anti-war message even stronger than the first time around.
A scaled down Stuka dive bomber, suspended by a guide wire, flies into the wall and explodes in a fiery ball at the climax of In The Flesh.
There are projections of airplanes dropping Latin crosses, hammer and sickles, stars and crescents, stars of David, dollar signs, and the logos of Shell, Mercedes-Benz and McDonalds during Goodbye Blue Sky.
During the interval a host of faces of people lost in conflicts around the world are projected onto the wall.
Most notably, during Bring The Boys Back Home, the famous anti-war statement made by US President Dwight D Eisenhower in a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors is projected.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed”, it reads.
Gerald Scarfe’s original album images of the schoolteacher, mother and girlfriend, brought to life as inflatable for the 1980-81 tour play their roles again.
The Nazi propaganda and marching hammers are as powerful as ever and Scarfe’s animated sequence for The Trial is also used once more.
The whole show gave Waters the chance to restate his credentials as the supreme creator of an internal rock production.
This is undoubtedly the greatest piece of musical entertainment ever put together.