I saw Mr. Waters perform his conceptual piece this past Sunday in LA.
I must confess to being a bit of a skeptic going in.
The whole thing reeked of the worst excesses of 70s prog rock to me.
For one there was a “concept”. It clearly wasn’t enough to just get on stage and play for Roger anymore.
Secondly, I’d never really been a Pink Floyd fan.
Thirdly, I wasn’t on acid. The traditional Floyd cure-all remedy. Or so I hear.
I’m very happy to report that my skepticism was wholly unjustified.
The Wall is a very big and dramatic idea executed flawlessly.
I did a bit of digging before going to the gig. It turns out Roger was an architecture student before joining Pink Floyd and that this remains an abiding interest.
So, no prizes for guessing which member of Pink Floyd was most likely to suggest building a wall then!
But the real motivation for the idea came from the alienation Roger Waters felt upon touring North America after the insanely successful Dark Side of The Moon album.
It should have been sheer bliss, right? Eighty thousand plus fans screaming love at you every night.
Well, it wasn’t for Roger. He hated that dynamic with a vengeance. He didn’t feel it (stadium gigs) encouraged an engaged audience. Which of course it didn’t.
It encouraged a disconnected audience of intoxicated yahoos waiting for their favorite Floyd song to be played.
So Roger had the idea of literally creating a wall between the performers and the audience. To make them FEEL something. And to make them think about what was actually going on.
All of which sounds very grand and operatic. And it is. The Wall is, in essence, a musical drama. Performance art.
But it also sounds poncey and affected in the extreme. Which it very much isn’t.
Roger Waters really meant this. It was the Floyd album where his creative energy and drive really asserted itself. The whole thing was his idea!
It forces the viewer/audience member to really think about what’s going on in ways they (and I include myself in this) can only really appreciate later on.
The Wall is deep man!
See it for yourself and you’ll understand why. I won’t pretend to do it justice here.
There’s a great clip in a Pink Floyd documentary where an American journalist asks a young Roger Waters to explain his concept on TV. Roger says to him “You’re kidding me man. I can’t explain The Wall on TV!”
Well I can’t explain The Wall on a blog either.