This show was originally scheduled for The Forum but was moved to the Staples Center
All images thanks to Simon Wimpenny
Last night was absolutely wonderful, even beyond the performance itself. This tour is bringing people together whose deep social connections are predicated upon being Floydians and it’s so fascinating to me how music does that, like when we’re young and we find each other based on mutual interest; and it continues into our adult years but in a more focused way, I think. And of course now it’s much easier for people of like minds to find each other. It was nice to be among those who love to discuss some of the same things I do. And so I had an absolutely lovely time with everyone at the meetup and after the show, and thanks to Matt (bluenosem) for giving me oodles of confetti!
Before the show I had the opportunity (thanks to our dear Si) to indulge my inner audio geek by perusing the mixing area for myself and marveling at all of that top-of-the-line gear, which actually takes up less space than the original did but given how powerful the newer smart consoles and outboard gear are in the 21st Century, less is definitely more. I also had the opportunity to chat with Dave Kilminster and Robbie Wyckoff, who are two of the nicest guys you could ever happen to meet. I had an amusing conversation with Dave K, I remarked to him that he must feel “something between terror and elation” when he plays the solos during “Comfortably Numb” and he laughingly agreed. He made a joke to Robbie that at the last show they’ll do their parts up on the wall in the nude. I said they should wear armbands and he said, “But where?” I replied, “Wherever you want to put them!” Because he said it’s a bit dodgy up there on the platform I mentioned David telling Phil that he had to get up on the lift with him during the original tour and Dave K said Phil was holding onto David’s feet! But I know he’s been trying to ignore the conflicted emotions of fans who really want to see the other David and so I told him that he’s doing a great job while also remaining true to his own musical identity and that’s the very best thing to be; I hope it made him feel a bit better. Robbie was very kind and down to earth (and photos don’t really do justice to how incredibly attractive he is, he has beautiful blue eyes) and I was his cheerleader as I’ve been all along, which he seemed to appreciate. We talked about his mentor Jon Joyce (who we agree is a legend) and also the circumstances of his selection. As I was going up to my seat I encountered Brent the Homeless Guy and told him I couldn’t give him any money but I could give him a hug, and so I did.
Now onto The Show…
From a narrative perspective I would say the tale deals more with the persona of Roger Waters than of the character Pink. If anything this version has a greater emphasis on autobiography with Roger’s acknowledgment of the work’s history in relation to his own life. And there are moments of over-the-top theatrics in regards to the “fascist” portion of the program, but the drama of that section is ironically underscored by the visuals which reveal the price of complicity and reflexive idolatry. But there is truly nothing more thrilling than the iconic moment as the band thunders through “Waiting For The Worms” and the hammers are marching across the wall and the crowd is deliriously overwhelmed by the spectacle.
I will say that as much as the visuals were amazingly created and presented (with all praise most deservedly going to Breathe for the projections and Stufish for the staging), the largest part of the impact for me, both emotionally and intellectually, was the music. Even in consideration of the fact that Roger created this work concurrently to be a musical and visual experience, for me the music is its own world which I step into whenever I listen (from the entire album to just one song on the radio) and so I appreciate the care taken in the arrangements, to retain the emotional impact and narrative focus. And yet there is nothing in the presentation which really points to mere nostalgia to my reckoning, although I noticed that the audience was very appreciative when Gerald’s original animations were shown, which verifies to me it also has such a timeless and iconic quality. It is wonderful how much intelligence and creativity Sean and Andy and their team put into the presentation both in terms of the selection/creation of images and the editing, and the 3D aspect of this cannot be understated, even from the very back left corner of the arena (where I was) I could experience the “Wow!” effect for certain. It put me in mind of Harvey Goldsmith’s comment in The Lost Documentary about the type of staging which PF were always known to employ in regards to audience impact.
I found the culture jamming sequence especially to be subversive and funny (I laughed out loud at the “iPaint” one in particular) but also thought-provoking, in addition to all of the elements which underscored the systematic effects of consumerism upon society. The focus upon children overall in the imagery was heart-wrenching and I’ve had several people remark to me that they cried during “Vera/Bring The Boys Back Home” and I found myself tearing up as well. It’s a delicate balance to bring forth the gamut of emotional response in performance but it’s all there and not too obvious or heavy-handed at all. I think because we see kids in a more upbeat context beforehand (in “Brick Pt II”) that it becomes all the more poignant in the second half, and the whimsical images projected after the wall has fallen symbolize the hope which Roger hopes we’ll take home with us and share with others.
More importantly…the band is just fantastic that is really what I think(!) It was very obvious to me, the chemistry among everyone, that everyone has a distinct voice and yet melds so well together. Some fans have complained about Graham playing so many fills during “In The Flesh,” for example, or G.E.’s little solo in “Mother,” but I feel it’s important to not only honor the original intent but to make it your own, and I appreciate Roger giving everyone a chance to shine. The three solos in “Brick Pt II” for example, fit in the framework of the song and yet there are three distinct voices, I like that everyone has their turn, but especially Snowy because I’ve been a fan of his since the Lizzy days (not really getting a chance to appreciate his role as a Floydian associate until later) and he plays with all the emotive power of his original colleague (as does Dave K.) but his distinctive wonderful voice is also evident. And it never really struck me until now, I suppose, how well Jon C. and Harry mesh in regards to their playing. They don’t get in the way of each other, it’s almost a dialogue in certain spots, the way they layer their sounds together.
I think the best element among everyone is their inherent versatility, they all can play according to the demands of the work but also bring in additional elements if necessary; they all have a wide stylistic vocabulary. And of course they are professionals, every one.
Robbie was amazing, he’s got such a great range – I love how he effortlessly moved from the high harmonies to the lower register in “Waiting For The Worms” – and his phrasing and intonation in certain spots was just bang on, it gave me chills (especially during “Mother'”). But he also displayed his own mastery in technique, he had remarked in an interview conducted at the start of the tour he appreciated he didn’t have to slavishly reproduce the original. I really enjoyed what I had heard of his singing when it was announced he’d got the job and I knew from the very beginning he would be great. It’s nice to be able to say to the doubters “I told you so!” It was also great to learn that he is a Floydian too, it means this music is so important to him he wouldn’t do anything less than his very best.
Robbie and Kipp’s harmonies on “Comfortably Numb,” that’s what made me cry. But that song has always been able to emotionally affect me in such a way, though I think perhaps the combination of the song itself plus the occasion made it a little overwhelming, but I didn’t regret my tears in the least.
The chorus was also wonderful, I cheered for them at every opportunity. And Dave K received a standing ovation for “Comfortably Numb” which I thought was a great gesture even as people wish they could see the other David at the top of the wall. And I did the same, gladly. Sometimes L.A. is a tough crowd, but in this case the packed arena was entirely adoring, I think.
Perhaps most of all it was very moving for me to witness Roger in a celebratory mood, commenting on the history of the work and his own emotional orientation to it but also to proclaim he has moved beyond it. His emotional honesty is just as important to me in regards to his artistry as any other aspect of his talent and abilities because I realize how brave one has to be to do so. He was a dynamic and charismatic presence as always but this was magnified by the way in which he engaged the audience. Those of us who have been fans for decades now are glad to discard our previous notions of his personality and feel happy that his journey out of the dark time which produced The Wall has granted him peace of mind. And I also admire his continuous work in refining the presentation, always seeking to make it better in that people are cataloguing the changes he’s made along the way and they’re all meant to create greater impact and audience enjoyment.
Another element which has drawn much praise is the audio, and Roger is known for using the best in the business to ensure his live performances possess studio-quality live sound which might seem like an oxymoron, but once you’ve experienced it then you appreciate it’s anything but. The quad elements were astounding (especially memorable was the “pinprick,” it’s like that little sound was floating right in front of me) and the overall mix was so incredibly clear and dynamic with little-to-none appreciable distortion – even in the bottom end – and as the techs are dealing with a situation which can be affected by so many variables, to achieve such consistency in sound over the course of such a long tour…I believe the fans are very appreciative of this consideration
To create wonder is one of the very best things which art can do, and in this Roger has succeeded, and to everyone who assisted him I would say thank you. And so I do: thank you to all of Roger’s artisans and technicians, for helping me revisit a part of my own history as well as experiencing a moving and exciting performance in the present day.
Review thanks to Julie Skaggs
Just pulled in from the show, One word……Wow.
That is, without doubt, the one word that sums up the show.
Words will not be able to even come close to describing The Wall live. It was every adjective you could think of… Just the best thing I have ever seen. There has never been a level of production that amazing before… I mean it’s so precise that when each individual piece of the wall is set in place the projection immediately picks up on that brick. The addition of photos of fallen soldiers and giving it a more political theme added an entire not so new element, but a refreshing element that gave the impression that the character Pink wansn’t only battling his own inner demons, but was also trying to take on the demons of the world.
Highlights of the night included Mother, What Shall We Do Now, Don’t Leave Me Now, Waiting for the Worms.
Including the footage of Roger during the 1980 Earl’s Court show performing along with current Roger during Mother was on of the most brilliant things I have ever seen. I love the way that they projected his body on the built parts of the wall and had his head on Mr. Screen. Just stunning.
This is a show where you could walk in with earplugs in and not hear a single note of music played and still walk out feeling that you didn’t waste a penny, or you could walk in with a blind fold and leave satisfied.
For me, sitting 7th row center was quite possibly the best seat in the house. It wasn’t so close that you couldn’t take in everything that was happening, and it wasn’t far enough that you feel a disconnect from the stage. There truely isn’t a bad seat, but in my opinion if you can get a seat about 5 rows or back you will have the time of your life.
Review thanks to darksideofkaos
We just returned from seeing our first show of this tour. We were at the last LA show in 1980 and the first LA show this time. When Roger got up and made the announcement that he had “done some research in the dressing room” and found out that it had been 30 years 9 months and however many days and that he had come full circle, that was EXACTLY how we were feeling! Then to have the 1980 Earl’s Court footage overlay for Mother was INCREDIBLE, as we were at four of those six shows as well! But none of that can come close to the awesome experience that we just went through. It was SO COMPLETELY AMAZING AND BEYOND MY EXPECTATIONS, can’t believe I get to see three more in the next week (Oakland and both San Jose). Thanks for everything Roger! love……..
Review thanks to terrapin
I also saw the ’80 Wall show..
I’m chirpin’ “Wow” about tonight….another Animal altogether from the ’80 show…but that 4th set was eerily similar!!!!!!!
This show is absolutely nuts in the 4th quarter.
…LA crowd seemed like we were sittin back with our jaws open…miss Gilmour on those leads, but man-oh-man…
Got tickets for Tuesday…I better get my ass there on Sunday.
Some random thoughts and impressions …
Great pre-show meetup at the Yardhouse, meeting Oldpink, luna and several others for the first time, as well as some familiar faces…Matt/bluenosem, Simon, Maria, and others. Glad I went there a little early to get us a table, because around 5:00 pm there was a line of people waiting to get in…and while that place is pretty big, it was packed. The only thing missing was all the friends I’ve met from all the past pre-show meetups, but you’re all always with me in spirit!
Coincidentally Oldpink and I had seats almost together in the same row, and were able to do a seat adjustment with those around us so we could sit/stand together (and share a joint). Dead Center, right in front of the soundboard, with our backs literally almost leaning on the soundboard itself. I have to say the sound from that location is the absolute best. I’ve seen the show from very close and very far, from one side to another…from very high up to very low down, but being right in the thick of it with the soundboard is beyond audio description. And the visual impact of seeing the Wall in it’s entirety, from one end to the other, makes for a totally complete experience. Had a similar seat for a couple of the Chicago shows, and realize that is definitely the sweet spot with a full view of the Wall, and the sonic overload of quadrophonic hallucinatory voices and sounds floating all around making for a most memorable experience. As far as concerts are concerned, I’d say it was as close to heaven as one could possibly get.
Had a couple of conversations with people comparing the original Wall shows to the new show, but as I’ve stated in the past it’s nearly impossible to compare aside from the obvious..one was a classic Pink Floyd version vs. a new Roger solo version. That’s where the differences mostly end for me, and although I still favor the original for sentimental reasons, I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re separate animals and each deserve their own space at the top of the heap in the history of rock and roll. Roger did mention the L.A. Sports arena shows from 1980, and I went into a time travel mode putting myself back there as an impressionable 17 year old. I snapped out of the time capsule and found myself 30 years later as a 47 year old, re-living the greatest shows I’d ever seen in my life…right here and right now in L.A.,…but with a new conceptually challenging take on it all, not to mention the onslaught state of the art visuals, sound, and production. I looked up to the ceiling of the arena at one point and said my thanks to my dear older brother Scott who took me to those shows all those years ago, and while I was a bit sad knowing I couldn’t return the favor by physically taking him to these shows, I took comfort in knowing that he was definitely there spiritually…enjoying the show from perhaps the greatest seats in the house in the heavens above….and probably smoking a joint also.
I’ll be attending several more shows all in a bundle out here on the west coast, and will more than likely have several more random thoughts and impressions to write about along the way. And when it’s over l’ll have time to finally let it all sink in…but there’s no doubt about it, The Wall tour of 2010 will live with me forever. Stay tuned…
With thanks to Eric “DiamondHead”