Roger Waters breathes new life into 33 year old Wall

I’ve been a Pink Floyd fan since I was 16. At one point in my teens, I owned 17 albums and probably listened to Floyd more than any other band for a few years. It might have had something to do with my hobbies at the time, through the late ’70s and early ’80s. I never saw the band live with both David Gilmour and Roger Waters together. In fact, the first time I saw them at all was the ’94 Pulse tour at BC Place. It was a wonderful show, but was still in the days when Roger Waters and the rest of the band were mortal enemies.

Seeing Floyd without Waters just wasn’t right for the same reason that a Beatles show without Lennon or McCartney would have been wrong. At the time, Waters had grown into a larger-than-life, narcissistic recluse (at least according to most reports) and, as such, I’d become a much bigger fan of David Gilmour and Nick Mason. If you’re Floyd fan, though, there’s no denying that Waters’ tortured soul, unresolved issues about a smothering mother and father killed in the war, in no small part, contributed to some great song writing. The massive, arena spectacles that Floyd shows have always been, may or may not be your cup of tea, but I feel it’s still always been about the art.

Waters has mellowed over the years and has worked and re-worked The Wall for a variety of different purposes, audiences and venues. Gone is some of the self-absorption (though it’s still Waters’ baby), with its tale of isolation, disdain for government authority and strong anti-war message tweaked to speak to a broader audience. He did a stadium tour in 2010, which came to Vancouver and which I missed due to its sellout in mere moments. It was reviewed at the time as one of the best shows to ever have hit Vancouver. I vowed that if it ever came back, I would not make the same mistake again. I purchased tickets within ten minutes of their going on sale in November of 2011 and have been waiting seven months. I was almost vibrating with anticipation all day yesterday.

Not a review

Since I can’t possibly give the show a proper review (and others have), I’ll just say that this show was nothing short of sublime. The surround sound was spectacular and I’ve never seen a rock-theatrical concept pulled off the way this was. A three-storey high wall (built to completion by the stage crew through the first half of the show, then blown apart at the end) the entire width of BC Place acted as a projection screen for something in the neighbourhood of 40 high definition projectors. The imagery, often violent and grim, paid homage to some of the Gerald Scarfe animation from the original album and motion picture (and his signature font styles are still all over The Wall), while adding a strong focus to more recent victims of war.

A few more pics from the concert: