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October 10, 2010

Review: Roger Waters' The Wall Live at Verizon Center in Washington DC

roger watersI've never seen a show before that I knew would give me nightmares.

But after Roger Waters' The Wall Live tour at Washington's Verizon Center, with its fears and insecurities, claustrophobia and twisted animation ... I'm supposed to go to sleep on this?

The show was everything I'd expected: A two-and-a-half hour spectacle (intermission included) with gripping special effects and sturdy musicianship. Waters put together a crack band of players -- including former "Saturday Night Live" band leader G.E. Smith -- for this tour.

The show had to follow the album's narrative: A rock star builds a metaphorical wall to protect himself from the world but winds up in close quarters with his worst demons. Live, Waters erected a real wall brick by brick (the wall doubled as the projection screen), and tore it down at the end. The animation, which had clips from the movie as well as pieces by graffiti artist Banksy, was chilling. 

Unlike other classic rock icons such as the Eagles, Waters didn't reproduce the album note for note. He let the tracks breathe, gave Smith some extra solos and stretched out a few songs here and there. 

It's hard to believe Waters is pushing 70. He still hits all the high, maniacal notes like he's half his age. See more Roger Waters photos from the show.

While "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" bordered on plodding and overburdened, "Mother" was as poignant as ever. "Comfortably Numb" lulled the crowd into a haze until the pair of searing guitar solos jarred everyone awake again. And "Bring the Boys Back Home" set my spine tingling. The songs on "The Wall" make great use of silence and space, and the music was crystal clear in the Verizon Center last night. It was the best sound rig I've experienced yet at that venue. 

roger watersThe sight of a giant, inflatable, twisted grade school teacher dancing on stage is going to be burned in my brain for a while. Ditto for the huge wife/praying mantis and the villainous mother figure which rose at stage right for (you guessed it) "Mother." 

"The Wall" is against more than it's for; it's anti-war and anti-religion. At one point, there was video of a plane dropping crosses and Stars of David on a town. Waters, who is famous for his sermonizing, kept tight-lipped, letting the show convey its message. Though heavy-handed at times, "The Wall" felt just as relevant today as it was when Waters first penned it some 30 years ago. 

-- Sam Sessa 

(Photos by Josh Sisk/Special to The Sun)


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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:51 PM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Concert reviews
        

Comments

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I was at that show and it was so incredible. By far the best show I've been too. I really hope they release a blu-ray at some point from this tour. Thank you Roger.

The Wall 2010 was a wonderful use of video,surround sound,and props. The music was reproduced faithfully. Unfortunately the show was weighed down with political messages that seemed completely lost at times. I would have loved to have seen this show stripped down to it's bare musical essentials.

@David -- Stripped down to its bare musical essentials, "The Wall" is a political album. Heck, one of the songs (as noted in the review) is called "Bring the Boys Back Home." Like I said, it comes across as heavy-handed from time to time, but the album's message is just as biting now as it was when Waters made it -- which shows you how little things change.

I was so amazed and fully entertained. The sound system was impressive for such a huge stadium....the whole show was full of surprises. The political message was moving. (The people who drank way too much probably missed a few things.) I will never forget it!

Another Brick in the wall pt 2 plodding? not sure what you meant by that? the quintessential cornerpiece of the album, with kids shaking their fists at the overbearing teacher, true highlight of the show. Plus the pyrotechnics and plane flying through fire, one show I'll not soon forget. Great review though, take it easy!

It's one hell of a production. A faithful adaptation of the original 1980 show (which, frankly, still would blow the lid off this tour).

It's not quite the same without Gilmour or the rest of the Floyd, but you've got to hand it to Roger for putting such energy into this show well into his late 60s.

The Wall 2010 was a wonderful use of video,surround sound,and props. The music was reproduced faithfull . the whole show was full of surprises and i was able to get cheap Roger Waters Tickets through Ticketsinventory.com . Yeah I was at that show and it was so incredible. By far the best show I've been too.

I was at the show, and my FAVORITE moment was during the preformance of "MOTHER" : ...Mother should I trust the Government...? A resounding NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO filled the stadium. Sent chills down my spine.

I know this album by heart and it was well done last night. I LOVED it!
(even tho I am not anti-everything) I am ANTI GOVERNMENT and ANTI TYRANNY. Well Done Roger!

The wall building in the first half was hypnotic and subtle, enjoyed the whole thing thoroughly - except for the drunk guy next to us get yelling something about hating BARACK OBAMA

the part with the TV wall smashing and Roger's scream shooting at it from the rear of the stadium - frigging awesome.

Was that really Banksy art? I thought it was just Banksy-esque.

The Wall came out in my freshman year at college...it was one of those musical milestones (sort of like the Woodstock for the "ME" decade). After seeing the show at 19 in London at Earls Court...I have to say that this was more impressive than I thought possible 30 years later. Had only the technology that exists today been around in 1981...one can only imagine..Although the tickets are approximately 20 times what I paid in 1981 (10 quid versus 279 USD)....it was worth it (although now I have the 279 where as 10 quid in '81 was a fortune!).

The Wall is the worst Pink Floyd album. Dumb and obvious - unless you are 12 or stoned.

I love concerts for only one thing, a perfect 'LIVE' version of the songs I love to sing and hear. Truth is, I can do without the political (or anti-) agendas and messages. Sure, I share the views with the artist, I just don't want them plastered all over the walls in a less- than- subtle attempt to subliminally embed a view that not only do I already share...but that I'm trying to temporarily put behind me for a couple of hours.
In other words, a stage shouldn't be a podium and a podium shouldn't be a stage. But the concert was great, Waters was spot on even for seventy, and he didn't follow the exact recipes of his earlier menus. The apps and the entrees were still nothing shy of terrific! Thanks, Rodger and thanks Verizon Center. The venue was clean, easy to navigate, and fun.

It was the first time I've seen Pink Floyd, but hopefully not the last. Besides the fact that I adore Roger and all his work both political and musical, I must say that everyone seemed to hit their cues perfectly...The brick-by-brick process must've been taxing on the stagehands, yet their labor didn't distract at all from the powerful visuals or the unbelievable performance from Roger. Going into the show, I'd been hearing from reviews that Roger was losing his voice and I even saw him admit in an interview that he's no longer able to hit the high registers, but he nailed them all. Some may be deterred by the powerful messages, but I was elated that Roger didn't censor a thing. Mentioned earlier was the reaction to Mother's lyric, "...should I trust the government?" and yes the entire venue all shared in shouting, "No", but also written on the partial wall was, "No Fucking Way" ...Bravo, Roger. Along with the gripping images of father/soldiers returning home, the seemingly infinite list of fallen soldiers, the gorgeous woman baring all for Young Lust, and the creepy puppets(most namely the evil pig/boar) this show was exactly what a live performance of The Wall should be. In a word, Powerful.

I'm shocked at the folks to dismiss the "agendas" and "political messages" - if you're critical of the "message" you're missing the point. It doesn't matter what the "message" is - Waters and The Wall elegantly points out that regardless of the "agenda" or "message", question that. The media are powerful things - music, video, imagery, iconography - don't accept things simply as benign because they are slickly packaged like your iPod. Mao wearing iPod headphones and "iBelieve" in Apple-text, followed by iKill - c'mon that right there was worth the price of admission. Then you get the repeat iconography from the bombers in "Goodbye Blue Sky" dropped on your own goddam head while you ignorantly cheer and wave at the finale. This is the artist showing us the dark side and then flipping the mirror in our face. It was magnificient, current, topical, poignant, senstive and thought out through and through. Mr. Waters - Sante!

I'm shocked at the folks to dismiss the "agendas" and "political messages" - if you're critical of the "message" you're missing the point. It doesn't matter what the "message" is - Waters and The Wall elegantly points out that regardless of the "agenda" or "message", question that. The media are powerful things - music, video, imagery, iconography - don't accept things simply as benign because they are slickly packaged like your iPod. Mao wearing iPod headphones and "iBelieve" in Apple-text, followed by iKill - c'mon that right there was worth the price of admission. Then you get the repeat iconography from the bombers in "Goodbye Blue Sky" dropped on your own goddam head while you ignorantly cheer and wave at the finale. This is the artist showing us the dark side and then flipping the mirror in our face. It was magnificient, current, topical, poignant, senstive and thought out through and through. Mr. Waters - Sante!

The Jim that posted this comment - "The Wall is the worst Pink Floyd album. Dumb and obvious - unless you are 12 or stoned..." is an idiot!

F*ckin amazing things here. Im very satisfied to peer your article. Thanks so much and i'm taking a look forward to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?
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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
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