Let’s start out with a disclaimer: Roger Waters' latest tour, The Wall Live, is not a concert. It’s a musical production of theatrical proportions that will appeal to both old and new fans of the seminal, but sadly now-defunct group, Pink Floyd.
It's with this consideration in mind that the production from Waters - who has received heavy legal action from his former band-mates due to the direction he’s taken their legacy - can be judged as a thoroughly entertaining show.
I was personally quick to label the dramatics "Broadway for Bogans" while looking around the crowd at Allphones Arena (who were largely ageing and clutching packets of chips and four buck Cornettos) during one of the opening songs, 'The Thin Ice'. But while the show indeed involved many cheap shots, the following 90 minutes thankfully proved me totally wrong.
There were many cringe-worthy moments, no doubt, but the musical finesse of Waters and his crew was undeniable from the first few songs. "Holy shit, can he play," was one statement heard nearby to us in the crowd, and this was a sentiment that essentially sums up the performance.
But back to those cheap shots...yes, a giant pig was involved, truckloads of pyrotechnics and a giant wall of metaphoric proportions. Plus, enough strange, weird giant puppet things to give a 60-year-old rocker acid flashbacks. All emblazoned in enough Banksy-style
graffiti to provoke another lawsuit.
Of course, those are the things that draw many to Waters' productions (and have them paying up to $400 a ticket). This considered, it was delightful to see that they were executed with stellar smoothness, audio precision and enough smoke and mirrors to really make the punter feel like they were in the midst of something spectacular.
For the purists, there were times when that same high level of production could be seen as distracting from Pink Floyd's music, if not disrespectful of the album's legacy. The colourful light display during the guitar solo of 'Comfortably Numb' was one example of this. It begs to be asked: why not just let the crowd appreciate mind-blowing solos in their solicitous wonder?
Thankfully, for every question like that there were more that made the crowd contemplate something else: the provoking message behind the concept album, The Wall
. Mixed media depicting acts of violence and war were pivotal to that contemplation - it was especially pivotal that many extracts were not drawn from the era in which the album was written, but rather today’s arguably more oppressive culture. In fact, the infamous Wikileaks
'Iraq War Logs' video used in the show made the production's older digs at fascism, such as Nazi-style graphics, seem almost outdated.
It was these focal moments showing Waters' anti-consumerism/capitalist voice that will hopefully give Pink Floyd’s album relevance for another generation to come (although, judging by the hoards of merchandise sold following the show, it’s safe to say the message was ironically lost on some).
Theatrical? Yes. Hysterical, even. But that’s what you go to Roger Waters for, after all. And when that’s what you expect, it's something else to get it sounding and looking just that good. If that's The Wall
we’ve been allocated in 2012, we shouldn’t really mind it staying up for another few decades or so.