Roger Waters plays The Wall: Live review

Roger Waters plays The Wall
Manchester Arena
June 2011

Where do we stand on Pink Floyd?

For some they were mortal enemy of punk but for others they were one of the so called prog bands that had something extra. Of course the Syd Barrett Floyd was always holy. Syd’s genius and his bizarre post Floyd hibernation saw to that.

But there was something quietly good about the post Syd Floyd as well, something quite eloquent and touching about their introspection and also an originality in their experimentation.
By the time they got to The Wall though, it was all getting a bit trickier there was a new wave touch to the sound, even a Joy Division gloominess but it was a difficult record to love but that didn’t stop it from being a landmark album for millions.

In the post Floyd break up The Wall creator Roger Waters has been touring the album. Of course we know what the over fifties think of the record, those battle lines were drawn years ago but what does the 21st century teenager think of it all? We sent Josh Nichol to the recent Manchester Arena show to tell us…

Without a doubt it is clear to me that the punk movement needed to happen. 20 minute guitar solos, ridiculous over-elaborate stage shows and the ever growing ridiculous egos of millionaire rock stars with their model wives and mansions in the countryside. There needed to be some sort of repercussion, a revolution. A hatred swarmed across British music culture for experimental or progressive rock bands such as Genesis and Pink Floyd. The latter most notably drawn attention to by Johnny Rotten himself with his makeshift “I hate Pink Floyd” t-shirt, but as time goes on I have a sneaky suspicion that the legacy of Pink Floyd has slipped through the net and become a lot more important than those young punks of that era would have dared to mention at the time.
”‹Later on in their lengthy journey as a band, chief songwriter and bassist Roger Waters grew conscious of their fame and disassociation from society. As Pink Floyd became more and more of a victim of their own success the man had a brainwave. He wrote an album which would build a wall, quite literally, between him and his audience, in order to ultimately tear it down to refresh what was once his band’s connection with their fans. “The Wall” was Waters’ baby. The band grew tired of what they saw as Roger’s old gimmicks, and he broke free from the weight on his shoulders a few years later.

”‹On the last of over 100 days on his UK tour, Roger Waters brought his baby to Manchester. Admittedly, The Wall isn’t my favourite album by Pink Floyd, I don’t believe it gives the band justice for the experimental and truly moving masterpieces they produced in the early 70’s such as Meddle, Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here. I decided it was extremely important to see the man play. Roger Waters is a hero of mine and if I didn’t attend, I knew I would regret it.
”‹Arriving at the MEN in Manchester, I again noticed I was one of the youngest in the building, which is becoming more of a frequent occurrence recently, so I’m getting used to it. The man himself walked out early, with no supports. Fireworks marked his entrance and the sound of helicopters overhead highlighted the war themes of the album, relating to his father’s presumed death after being lost at war.

As the wall built slowly throughout the first half of the album, images of his father and various other lives that have been lost appeared projected on the bricks. One significant and powerful projection was that of Jean Charles De Menezes, the Brazilian immigrant shot 7 times in the head by the Metropolitan Police, after he was misidentified as a terrorist involved in the second London bombing failure. The aged Waters seemed to still have his very left-wing political views and made that apparent with the latest version of his performance. The images accompanied screams and claps making it clear that the slowly eroding faith in politicians and the establishment is as evident today as it was during Pink Floyd’s peak.

As always, Waters was never known for his outstanding vocals, but they worked well, seemingly a lot better than he’s given credit for. He seemed to be comfortably out of tune, which adds to the fact that he never really was a great vocalist. Some notes he pushed for sounded way out of his capability. That fitted with the album perfectly as it matched the painful and harrowing subject matter of the album. Waters always had the ideas, the obsessions. He accompanies his rather outstanding pop album with beautiful and powerful visuals.

Accompanying the track “Goodbye Blue Sky” to the lyrics of ”˜Did, did you see the falling bombs?’, the images of planes dropping bombs in the shape of religious symbols and marching hammers are enough to mess with the head of the audience. I watched in awe, but at the same time I couldn’t work it out. There’s a very fine line between being pretentious and pulling off a sound and visual spectacular like he did on this night. If it was Bono up there, I think this review would be an extremely different story. The visuals and theatricals were phenomenal, quite frankly, if you hate that side of live shows, then you would have despised the night.

The Wall may not be seen as the greatest Pink Floyd project, but I think the album still stands as an incredibly interesting concept. It’s Roger Waters laying down his life, letting us into his head. Due to his upbringing, he grew up to be a very bitter man and managed to drive a lot of people close to him away with his personality and demeanour. For Waters to openly admit this and to this day work on giving this concept new and modern twists via the constant progression of technology is something admirable, especially for musicians in the latter half of their life. Walking away, I left completely satisfied. Not only had I seen one of my heroes onstage, I’d seen a performance that made me look at an album from a totally different perspective. It was a truly spectacular stage show from a man with a legacy that surpasses all progressive and experimental rock artists before him.


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8 comments on “Roger Waters plays The Wall: Live review”

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  1. Very strong read, loved it

  2. Good. Honest review…like it. I often wonder if, when I watch an artist I like being a bit of a tit, whether I would tolerate it from someone else (Bono a good example), but that is why you like them. Interesting to see the Wall updated to give new or stronger meaning…wish I’d gone now!!

  3. I saw one of the May Manchester shows and I loved it.
    Ironically in 1977 Roger Waters spat at fans at gigs while punks were doing the same to punk musicians.
    The 1977 Animals album has more anti-establishment lyrics than most punk bands. It’s really a shame that Floyd is seen as THE dinosaur band when there was much much worse music around in the 70s – Yes for example are a million times more offensive than Pink Floyd.
    Obviously the sight of a multi-millionaire rock star bemoaning his lot is slightly comic but they could get away with it then, and that’s the artist’s temperament I guess.

  4. Bollocks. No revisionist history here! Pink Floyd are indulgent shite.

    Punks hated them.

    Well I did. No grudging respect at my end.

    I prefer Roy Ayres

    Poo poo la la

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