Roger Waters – The Wall – Value City Arena, Columbus, OH – 10/22/10 Roger Waters wrote The Wall while a member of Pink Floyd back in 1979. But, due to technical and financial limitations, the group only performed the entire album a handful of times. Now, 30 years later, Waters is finally doing the record again; and what a spectacle it is.
Even before the show began, you noticed a circular screen suspended in the middle of the stage. This was flanked by bricks on either side; allowing for three areas where videos could be projected. As the show went on, more bricks were added, creating a barrier between the band and the audience, and thus providing a larger area for images. Several bricks were strategically left out, allowing at least partial view of the musicians. But, by the end of the first act (the end of Record One of the original LP), the last brick was placed and the band was completely shielded by this enormous wall, 35 feet high, 250 feet wide. Of the videos, there was a healthy dose of animation from the original Pink Floyd’s the Wall movie. But, Waters also asked for fans to send in photos of loved ones lost in any war; this added a very real element to an otherwise fictitious story.
Waters, never a strong vocalist, actually was in great form (rumor had it that he’d been working with a vocal coach). Since this was a Roger Waters’ solo tour, that meant no David Gilmour, who sang on much of the original album. His presence was filled by two people: Robbie Wyckoff did a fine job on Gilmour’s vocals, while Dave Kilminster handled the guitar parts. It’s Kilminster that should really be commended: Gilmour’s original solos were extremely melodic and Kilminster played them, note for note – incredibly faithful to the originals. G.E. Smith (from the Saturday Night Live band) also helped on guitar. The sound system was stunning, with speakers placed throughout the arena. So, when the helicopter landed in “Happiest Days of Our Lives,” it sounded like it was right on top of you. A choir of children were brought out, all chanting “We Don’t Need No Education” on “Another Brick in the Wall part two.” The highlight of the first act featured Waters playing along with a video of himself from a 1980 Floyd performance doing “Mother.” The video was purposely grainy, looking very much like a ghost, with Waters’ head in the circle screen, while the neck of his guitar was projected on the large wall.
Act two began with the band playing “Hey You” completely unseen behind the wall, a very unnerving experience. Eventually, Waters emerged, with the rest of the band still obscured. During the epic “Comfortably Numb,” Waters stood in front of the enormous wall, while Kilminster played lead guitar at the very top, towering over him. During “Nobody Home,” a flap opened, revealing Waters sitting in a cheap hotel room, complete with TV and neon sign. Eventually, the entire band joined Waters in front of the wall. There was a rather ironic glitch in the show: at the beginning of “The Show Must Go On,” a keyboard died, and it took several minutes to wheel in a replacement. As the story goes, towards the end of the show during “The Trial,” the wall is torn down in an explosion of smoke and dust. The real surprising thing was how incredibly true to the original album the show was. Only “Empty Spaces,” which was cut short on the original album due to time constraints, contained extra verses. And, there were no encores with other hits played. After performing the final song, “Outside the Wall,” Waters walked to each side of the stage, thanking everyone several times.
While there have been many attempts at concept albums, rock operas and narratives, The Wall stands as the greatest of this genre. See it now, while you have the chance. –Tony Peters