The Wall - Wembley Stadium
added: 15 Sep 2013
// gig date: 14 Sep 2013
reviewer: David Spencer
The concept for Pink Floyd's The Wall originally came from Roger Waters' infamous incident in the late 1970s when he spat at a fan during a show. The moment so disgusted Waters, that he developed the idea of creating a barrier between himself and the audience. But it is a little ironic that a concert and album inspired in part by just how big the band had become, and how fans were not respecting his live show, has led in 2013 to a mammoth outdoor arena tour, playing to 60 odd thousand in London.
Wembley Stadium is full of the type of people that the younger and angrier Waters might have despised. They are here with mobile phones filming (why spend all night looking through a small screen?), chatting to friends, sharing on Facebook their location and wandering off during key moments to spend 10 pounds on soggy chips and watered down beer. But thankfully these people are lost in the sheer scale of Wembley - and there are many more fans here to respect what is an extraordinary record and a breathtaking show.
In 1979 the technical limitations that Floyd must have had to overcome to stage the original Wall shows is remarkable - when computers that would have filled rooms back then, now fit in a wrist watch. Therefore what Waters can do with modern day technology is incredible. But you still have to get it right. The Wall's structure begins partly built, acting as a giant screen, with the trademark Floyd circular screen above the band as the centerpiece of the projection. During the first half, brick by brick the Wall is completed - as the animations become ever more impressive, particularly during Empty Spaces, where two flowers entwine into love-making bodies. These Gerald Scarfe animations, that featured in the original film, add a sensory level to the show, and combine superbly with the anthemic tone of the music.
The first half sees the album's protagonist (rock star Pink) slowly fall apart mentally, off the back of his father's death in the war, his mother's over-protection and his wife's desertion. No time is wasted with the pyrotechnics kicking in during the opening in The Flesh, as fireworks go off, a plane crashes and flames leap from the stage. And this is just three minutes in. There is an added tribute to Jean Charles de Menezes, shot dead by police after the London 7-7 attacks, where Waters suddenly goes all Bono. His political views also seep through in some of the animations, with obvious disdain for Israel.
During the terrific Mother, the line 'should I trust the government' is greeted with yells of no and then cheers as 'no fucking way' is scrawled across The Wall. All very Ben Elton circa 1985. Those fans still chewing on their chips - or slowly returning from lengthy toilet queues, miss the delicate opening to the second half, with one of the album's most under-rated songs, Hey You, being performed from behind The Wall. Slowly the momentum builds to Comfortably Numb, quite possibly Pink Floyd's most beautiful and dramatic song. A key change in the guitar solo sees the Wall's projection used to full effect as colours bleed across the screen.
The sequence of the 'surrogate' band also packs a punch, with Run Like Hell's funky rhythm reverberating around the stadium. It all eventually leads to the finale, where the Wall is brought down. A strange ending to a show of course - but then everyone here knows what to expect. The giant inflatable pig that has been hovering over the crowd lands mid stadium in hopefully an intended move (you half expect a stadium announcement to follow - asking for the 'inflatable pig to be returned to lost property'). The thought makes you smile, until you remember that Waters vowed that these are the last shows of his three year Wall tour. Then you realise that the show that set the bar for stadium gigs of the future, three decades ago - might now never be seen again.
(thank you to Keri-Jayne McKie for the photograph).
Have Your Say
Stay updated with your free Music News daily newsletter. Subscribe here now!
> For more Music-News live reviews click here