Friday, November 5, 2010

Live Review - Roger Waters "The Wall" @ Izod Center

The Wall was made, crafted and released before I was even born but its impact has clearly lasted through the generations. The iconic Pink Floyd record celebrates its 30th birthday this year and its principal writer and creator, Roger Waters has been taking it on the road since September. The tour, which made its second trip to the New York area, came to New Jersey’s Izod Center for two nights. The Izod Center holds a special place to Waters as it was the venue he selected to perform dress rehearsals in weeks before the tour began.
The original Wall tour was brought to audiences for a limited time in 1980, in support of the record. The original tour was only performed in LA, Long Island, London and Berlin was looked at as somewhat of a disaster. Critics and fans would criticize (and rightfully so) that they could not see the band and would not be the experience they were hoping for. The show, which had Pink Floyd play behind the iconic white wall which graces the cover of the album, would slowly dismantle through the show until the end where it would collapse in full on stage and into the audience. Back then audiences were graced with massive puppets of the iconic characters that appear in the album art and accompanying film as well as projections of post World War II and Cold War struggle around the globe.
For Waters, to celebrate the album’s 30th anniversary and iconic status, he has taken it on the road and revamped the show with modern technology and has transformed the arena concert-going experience into a massive Broadway-like theater.
This was less a concert of seeing a legendary artist but rather seeing a legendary creation updated to modern times. Waters, who has always been known for over-the-top productions and performances, has outdone himself this time around. Waters takes the stage as if he is a thespian actor rather than a rock God, yet he is not center stage, what is in focus is what is around him. Opening with “In the Flesh,” the audience was taken to a new world right away with half the wall assembled on stage and a pyrotechnic flaunt that would have the people behind Macy’s fourth of July firework display envious. With live model planes crashing into the wall and erupting in flames, the audience knew this was something they could not predict. Waters, whose father died during World War II, honors soldiers from that war and other right up to present day. Displaying images from the past and present, from vintage news reel clips to today’s political pundits would flash simultaneously on screen as the music, which was spot on, played beautifully in synch with what was happening across the wall.
The show, which like the album is broken up into two parts. Part one was disc one of the vinyl version and incorporated the wall being built, the images across the wall, seeing the band and the gigantic puppets from that first Wall tour were even revamped. After a twenty minute intermission, Waters would return to the stage, but instead of being behind the wall, he was performing in front of it and using the wall as a massive screen to project the animated images that Floyd fan’s witnessed in the film version of the record. With his backing band making cameo’s through part two, it would come full circle at the end which had Waters dressed in militant dictator garb and the infamous Pink Floyd pig flying around the audience, would bring the wall crashing down.
With heightened emotions and theatrics, nothing could take from what The Wall is about. At its core, The Wall is a story of loneliness, society, fear of governments and isolation. The themes echo through even to this day and even if you had never heard the album before, being in attendance you watch a story unfold. The Wall may have been created and born in 1980 but it was brought to life 30 years later.

Images courtesy Columbia Records / Sony Music / Roger Waters