A live review for The Vine. Excerpt below.
Roger Waters – ‘The Wall’ Live
Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Wednesday 1 February 2012
If rock music is, at its heart, a mad combination of theatre, escapism and expression, then The Wall Live must be the warped apex of what rock music was designed for. It has to be said that this is an absurd concept: a band playing the entirety of an album released 32 years ago, while a 12-metre-high white wall is constructed between musicians and audience. It is the product of a brilliant imagination and a breathtaking commitment to realising an absurd concept, night after night, in a series of far-flung countries over the last 18 months. To think that one man envisioned all of this, notebook in hand, is incredible. The logistics of this tour and stage coordination alone is enough to make my head spin.
Tonight marks the 125th time that this show has been performed since its debut in September 2010. It is a spectacle; an event. Something to get dressed up for; in your best Pink Floyd t-shirt, if the majority of the crowd can be used as a measure. Shortly before the show starts, when everyone’s settled in their seats, a disembodied voice instructs us to turn off the flash on our cameras, as “all you’ll see is white bricks” in the captured image. And that it’ll mess with their projections. A lonely horn plays over the PA in a darkened room. It feels like misdirection. We’re looking around, into the abyss, wondering what’s going to happen.
Then: the band hit the first chord of ‘In The Flesh?’, pink fireworks launch from the stage into the ceiling, and Roger Waters emerges with his arms held aloft like a prize fighter, soaking in the applause while his band casually work through the track. A stagehand places a thick black trenchcoat upon his shoulders, he dons black sunglasses, and says into the microphone: “So you thought you might like to go to the show? / To feel the warm thrill of confusion, that space cadet glow?” By the end of the song, rows of sparks are cutting across the top and bottom sections of the stage, seemingly showering the band in a hail of white-hot fury; flag-hoisting Nazi look-alikes are being hoisted skywards on a mechanical lift; and a fucking airplane descends from the ceiling, somewhere above the sound desk, and knocks over part of the wall while flames lick its exterior. It is the most jaw-droppingly elaborate concert introduction I’ve seen – and I saw Kanye West last week. Someone behind me jokes, “We might as well go home now.”
Waters cuts a distinctive figure on stage. Clad in all-black, wearing white sneakers and luminiscent silver hair; but for the bass regularly held in his hands, he’s pure cat burglar. He is the archetypal bassist/frontman combo, perhaps the best we’ll ever see [Waters vs McCartney? – Ed]. And all of this belongs to him. It’s difficult to avoid discussing economics when it comes to this show. We’ve all paid stupid amounts of money to be here — albeit happily. Though he’s doing three shows at this particular venue, The Wall Live is a once-off proposition.