In my last post here, I joked about the astronomical cost of seeing Roger Watersperform “The Wall” at the BankAtlantic Center this weekend. But after witnessing this once-in-a-lifetime event Saturday night, I can confirm that this is an unmissable concert spectacular, worth every penny regardless of how much you pay to get inside the building. I went to the show with only a casual appreciation for post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd, and I left a sycophantic fanboy crippled by praise, a bit like Wayne and Garth chanting “We’re not worthy” to Alice Cooper in “Wayne’s World.”
The tour is a celebration of the 30-year anniversary of the release of “The Wall” and an homage to the legendary live performances of the double album in the early part of the 1980s. I can’t possibly offer anything new about “The Wall,” the third-best-selling album in United States history, that hasn’t already been analyzed and over-analyzed to death: It’s a nightmarish anticapitalist rock opera about loneliness, abuse, alienation and conformity that has long transcended its musical origins to become a brand in and of itself.
Waters’ new tour, which began in September and continues through summer 2011, retains its basic concept from the
original “Wall” shows: a minimal number of bricks frame the stage on either side at the show’s beginning, with images projected onto them. The number of bricks increase throughout the first act (encompassing the first two sides of the album) until a brick wall/movie screen completely separates the dozen-piece band from the audience. Much of the post-intermission show, which includes the album’s third and fourth sides, is played against this imposing backdrop, with musicians including Waters emerging from specially designed platforms, cubbyholes and even atop the massive structure.
Also kept from the original shows are the infamous 50-foot-tall marionettes representing hideous visions of the teacher, mother and wife from the album’s despairing narrative. And of course, there’s the eternal Pink Floyd symbol of the capitalist pig, flying above the audience with crossed hammers emblazoned on its skin.
Additions to the spectacle affirm the album’s continued relevance and, indeed, timelessness. The Orwellian paranoia is amped up and the antiwar messages are stronger than ever. The most moving portion of the show is probably the images of soldiers who have died in wars, submitted by fans and encompassing the many bricks during “The Thin Ice.”
I could say more about the psychedelic animation, the lockstep-marching neo-Nazis, the references to Spartacus, Steve Jobs and George W. Bush and the fighter plane that bursts into flames when it crashes into the wall, but I would need the length of a book to get through everything. Just do yourself a favor: If there’s any way you can possibly make it to tonight’s encore performance at BankAtlantic, you won’t regret it. In fact, cancel all your plans and DVR your HBO shows tonight. Just go.