joi, 14 octombrie 2010
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. http://www.spinner.com/2010/09/16/rogers-waters-the-wall-live-tour-toront/
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)