joi, 14 octombrie 2010

Roger Waters Lays First Brick of 'The Wall Live' Tour in Toronto

Getty Images

It's unlikely that any rock 'n' roll roadie works as hard as Roger Waters' roadies. Last night in Toronto -- on the first of three dates kicking off the former Pink Floyd singer's globe-spanning, 30th anniversary 'The Wall Live' tour -- they slowly and steadily constructed a massive, non-metaphorical wall across the Air Canada Centre stadium stage until, by intermission, the band was now completely hidden behind it. And after repleting up the rafters with crashing fighter planes, flying pigs and grotesque three-story tall animatronic puppets, they eventually send that wall a-tumblin' down at the climax of Waters' triumphant return performance.

Several generations have now grown up with Pink Floyd's 1979 magnum opus, chanting that they don't need no education, attending laser light shows, crowding Midnight Madness screenings of the Alan Parker film and listening to the prog-rock double-album epic in their bedrooms with the lights off. Needless to say, for all the many acts who have taken to playing full album concerts in recent years, few have boasted full albums quite as impactful as 'The Wall.' Waters may not be Pink Floyd, but given the '70s legends ongoing irreconcilable differences, there's somewhat more enjoyment in watching a black hoodie-clad Waters front an anonymous Floyd cover band than, say, seeing
David Gilmour play Pink Floyd karaoke. Though to be fair, it did take a full four players to replace Gilmour's contributions onstage, including uneven vocalist Robbie Wyckoff who often faltered on Gilmour's lines, though the crowd often helpfully out-sang him.

What made Waters' state-of-the-art 'The Wall Live' resurrection work so well was that it was ultimately about the album, not the man who wrote it or the men who performed it. But the big question that surrounded the tour lead-up was, Does 'The Wall' still matter? Its core story of youthful alienation -- sparked by the band's dissociation from its fanbase once it reached stadium-size -- certainly continues to reach out to new and old listeners alike. As for the album's additional themes of nationalism, fascism, corporatism and war, they may not ring quite as powerfully as when Waters last performed it on the collapsed husk of the Berlin Wall itself. But the new images from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and other global hotspots that Waters added to the familiar ones from the album art and cult film make clear that wars certainly haven't stopped being fought, revolutions haven't stopped being quashed and soldiers and civilians haven't stopped dying. This was emphasized by the crowd's roar of support that accompanied the slogan "Bring the Boys Back Home" during 'Vera.'

Waters also made sure to mix old-school sloganeering (Big Brother is Watching You) with new ones (iProfit) and the animated planes dropped bombs made up of Shell Gas and Mercedes-Benz logos alongside the old communist, capitalist and Christian and Jewish symbols. The other question was, How well does Waters hold up? Almost creepily well, actually. At 67, his vocals are shockingly similar to those on the album as they mourn and marvel at the mysteries and inequities of life. 'The Wall' is really purpose-built for this kind of performance -- the double-album is perfect concert length and the songs are confident enough to take their time to set scenes and establish moods as with more traditional theatrical productions.

It was also conceived as a complete piece, so while the Toronto crowds certainly sang along loudest to the album's breakout hits -- 'Another Brick in the Wall (Part II),' which included a chorus of lip-syncing schoolchildren and giant professor puppet; 'Mother,' featuring a sky-high maternal puppet glowering down as Waters sang the acoustic number (marred by an early microphone flub); and 'Comfortably Numb,' performed high atop the now-constructed wall -- there was no feeling of impatience through the lower-key songs. That was equally due, of course, to the unceasing spectacle of the concert, which also involved mind-blowing digital animation projected upon the wall itself, beloved scenes from the movie (marching hammers, anal judge, fornicating flowers) and astounding use of surround sound.

By the end, the crowd, ecstatic that the performance had actually met their sky-high expectations, began chanting "Tear down the wall," until the wall did collapse upon the stage as if it, and the album itself, were alongside Waters taking their own well-deserved bows.

The Wall in Toronto

This would be considered a “SPOILER” if you plan on seeing the presentation of THE WALL featuring Roger Waters. This Tour will be remembered for sure. The few photos and videos I took from the 2nd row and what I am about to summarize will for sure remove the surprise element from the experience for anyone who hasn’t see Pink Floyd or any of previous Roger Waters’ Tours.

Pink Floyd The Wall ticket 2010

……I saw the Radio Kaos Tour when Roger Waters stopped into Hamilton, Ontario around 1987 and both Pink Floyd tours after around the same time Delicate Sound, Momentary Lapse, Division Bell era. Music aside the creativity that went into those tours set a new bar for me as a teenager early in my concert career. Now almost 23 years later the anticipation of seeing THE WALL in it’s original format was building by the minute.

When we first walked onto the floor and saw the Wall going up each side of the hockey rink the size of this show started to sink in…. heck if I hadn’t seen KISSjust 6 nights ago it might have seemed even Bigger!.. But this still had a stadium feel at first glance.

Roger Waters in Toronto

“In The Flesh” -- This was probably one of the best opening songs I have seen at a live concert. It was full steam ahead from the men on the bridge with flags, the fireworks, seeing Roger in his hoodie, lights swirling and that buzz under the hood of we’re seeing THE WALL !!!

… and of course the famous… “so ya thought ya might like to so to the show…” was truly electric and almost overwhelming. The lighting stretched back to the far end of the arena with additional speaker arrangements…above, not sure if it was quadraphonic or just for effects… as we were too close to the stage to hear….but as the helicopter sound kicked in this lighting unit above the main stage appeared to have a small speaker stack on it as well and it moved forward with the spot light shooting into the crowd as if to be the light on the front of the helicopter, the sound moved with it…really wicked…

Roger Waters - The Wall - Toronto 2010

Some 25 lucky kids from The Regent Park School of Music ended up on stage to help sing over the track for Another Brick plus got to point at thefloating 40 foot teacher. The overall sound was really good for a 1st show and most of the other musicians including Roger’s son on Keyboards were hard to see or get into with this large production unfolding…. except a little at the end of Run Like Hell as the band were in front of the wall closer to us.

I actually heard “Mother”start with Roger on acoustic and have the video it but I will spare you listening to the faint 1st verse that seemed to fall down with technical difficulties… the song never really got back on track for me. The Wall of course was being built brick by brick as Side 1 Played out and the barrier starts to fill in… to the point yes where you could barely see the band.

After the intermission HEY YOU starts and the entire song almost is play behind the Wall…it’s cool and as the light shines thru the cracks and you hear the band playing it really shows what Roger was thinking about years ago of feeling that distance from some of the audience…those who were not engaged with him as he performed . Speaking of di-engaged…The guy beside me after introducing himself 4 times and asking about doing ACID kept praying for David Gilmour to walk out and join in. I didn’t feel that was going to happen. I didn’t feel it needed too….The Gilmour stand in did fine at most points and this was not Pink Floyd we were seeing… it is and was billed as “The Wall Live…featuring Roger Waters”

The imagery on the circle screen in the back dipped into parts from the Wall movie and the overall scenes on the 200+ foot WALL itself were quite thought provoking weaving in some of todays political issues and visuals from past Tours I had scene…all very cool to watch in a synchronized kinda way

“One Of My Turns” turned out beautiful as you can see below in the video and “Run Like Hell” with the flying pig got the crowd up, dancing and celebrating it seemed… security told the front row to move back… and we all started to chant along with “THE TRIAL”... “bring down the wall, bring down the wall..” the WALL did come down..crashing faux bricks.

No encore, just The Wall and alot of entertainment to go along with an amazing album… I will leave the comments open here for others who visit the shows as the tour unfolds. (Sursa)

Roger Waters - Live At The Air Canada Center on Sept. 15, 2010.

Roger Waters performs "The Wall" Live At The Air Canada Center on Sept. 15, 2010.

Roger Waters performs "The Wall" Live At The Air Canada Center on Sept. 15, 2010.

Credit to Roger Waters where credit is due: this 30th anniversary tour in honour of the epochal Pink Floyd opus The Wall is about The Wall, not about Roger Waters.

Waters’s previous resurrections of the paranoid double-album song cycle from 1979 that marked the classic, stadium-era Floyd lineup’s last moment of real greatness and that had effectively blown the group apart by the time The Final Cut rolled around felt a bit like gratuitous, compensatory grandstanding in the wake of some iffy solo efforts – The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, anyone? – and his old bandmates’ slide into the comfortable sterility that would yield A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell. “You might have the name Pink Floyd,” they seemed to say, “but I’m still the man in charge of the music that made the people care.”

These days, catching Waters alone doing Pink Floyd songs is only one-quarter more “authentic” the experience than one would get if fellow surviving members David Gilmour and Nick Mason bothered to go out on tour again under the Floyd banner. And yet the notoriously self-important Waters himself seems ready to concede that the music he made with Pink Floyd is bigger than him, bigger than petty matters of ego and ownership and worthy of celebration in its own right.

Sure, it’s a cash-in. Watching the expensive, state-of-the-art 2010 production of The Wall that Waters brought to the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night – the first of three hot-ticket gigs at the 20,000-capacity venue – it was hard not to smirk whenever the word “capitalism” or animated dollar signs raining from the sky made au courant appearances amidst the war-scarred fascist iconography of the original work. Capitalism and capitalism alone is the only reason that a rock ‘n’ roll stage show ambitious enough to completely wall itself off, faux-brick by faux-brick, by the intermission can even exist during one of the shakiest years for the live-music industry in recent memory.

That’s the enduring power of The Wall, though, and The Wall was what the doting ACC throng was there to see on Wednesday night. I say “see” rather than “hear” because it was a high-end presentation built on arresting digital animation, ceiling-high marionettes and a requisite, giant, inflatable wild boar emblazoned with the phrase “EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY” unleashed to cheers over the arena bowl after “The Show Must Go On” that made this a memorable night out. The music, professionally recreated by Waters and something like a dozen anonymous side players, was actually kind of drab and heartless, not much different from what you’d hear at one of those Classic Albums Live nights at the Phoenix were it not for the production values that permitted, say, a British fighter jet to crash into the titular wall at stage left at the end of “In the Flesh?” or an enormous, grotesque caricature of Waters’s smothering mother to glower at the crowd during “Mother.”

“Mother” was a little wobbly, actually, marred by a mix that left Waters’s vocals completely inaudible for the first verse. Likewise, the band’s attempts to spread out and jam on “Empty Spaces” and “Run Like Hell” sounded more like something you’d hear Paul Schaffer walking the Late Show band through after a commercial break than Pink Floyd at the top of its powers. And the dude Waters has brought in to do Gilmour’s parts on “Hey You,” “Comfortably Numb” and the like is simply not up to snuff and was audibly flat for at least half of his vocal turns on Wednesday.

Again, however, credit to Waters. The night’s most rapturous audience moment – aside from the genuine cheers of anti-war sentiment that erupted during “Vera” when the phrase “BRING THE BOYS BACK HOME” flared up across the backdrop – might have been when the star of the show simply stood alone on a bare stage in front of the aforementioned wall and graciously raised his arms while the audience took Gilmour’s verses to “Comfortably Numb.” The Gilmour stand-in and another Gilmour stand-in on guitar got spotlights at the top of the all, but the song and the love everybody in attendance obviously felt for it were in charge. Good on Roger Waters for recognizing that, and good on Roger Waters for recognizing – and humbly deferring to – what a massive contribution to the rock canon he made in The Wall. (Sursa)

By Ben RaynerPop Music Critic