My history with Pink Floyd’s epic album The Wall goes way back. When I was young, my older brother had a huge classic movie poster hung on the one wall of his bedroom that was brown shag carpet. That picture freaked me out and intrigued me at the same time. I had never heard the music, but the poster conveyed the central battiness of it.
A few years later, while in junior high, I got grounded for a month for a particularly bumbling transgression. However, like any good teenager, I chose to turn inward during that time and concentrate on my sullen state. The Wall was the perfect soundtrack and Friday night probationary trips to the movie rental place yielded four back-to-back weekends of rentals of the VHS.
So, to say I know and am a fan of this album is to put it lightly.
Thankfully, Saturday night’s production of this seminal work lived up to my high standards of all things Wall. Waters’ double themed night of a march to madness and the current onslaught of corporate and ideological dystopia meshed seamlessly as the stage prop wall was constructed across the width of O2 Arena. The production itself was crisp and gaudy all at the same time. High-definition digital projections on the bricks of the wall were further emphasized by huge marionettes of the various antagonists of the story. In the midst, Roger Waters stood dwarfed in the middle of the stage by the wall and the story he dreamed up some 30 years ago. That said, his voice still managed to carry the tunes.
Waters chose to leave the music true to the original. In fact, even sound effects that appear on the album and movie were interspersed in the production. (The ambient, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” during “Nobody Home” gave this Floyd nerd goosebumps.) And, to his credit, the singer hired to take Gilmour’s parts sounded very much like David Gilmour himself. So there was no distraction other than the huge production going on right in front of the viewer.
The show was big, heavy-handed, preachy, twisted, ridiculous and an absolute feast for the eyes. It was perfect. The technology that Waters has employed in this production is enough to make even the most hardened cynic take notice.
So, while the $100 ticket price and tuneless drunken Russians behind me in Act 1 made me question my reasons for being there, “Run Like Hell” and the whole of Act 2 confirmed that The Wall continues to be unmatched on record and on stage.