So here it is, the first of the final three shows in Athens and the ones to be filmed!
Kami and I picked our tickets up at the box office (it was a small temporary cabin!) as did James who was with us and we headed into the venue. Phil bought a couple of tickets outside as he had tickets for the 2nd and 3rd show but not tonight. The venue was at one of the many arenas in the Olympic village in Athens that were built for the Olympic games in 2004. Its like most Olympic villages, its on the outskirts of the city, easily accessible by the metro but there’s no bars, restaurants or anything else out where it is.
It was a typical venue but not quite as deep as a lot of the venues that have been played at, we entered the venue on the lower tier but decided we’d all prefer standing on the floor so made our way down to meet up with Matt, Phil and Laila who were right at the front to the left of the stage. The first thing I noticed was how much space there was on the floor, it wasn’t packed at all, it was only 8:00 and the show didn’t start till 9:30 tonight but even so there was so much room to move about on the floor.
The second thing that was evident were the cameras throughout the venue, I counted 8 in total spread around the venue:
- Boom mounted at the sound desk
- Stage left rolling on rails elevated off the floor, rolling from half way back to level with the front of the stage
- Stage right, again elevated off the floor rolling on rails from half way back to level with the front of the stage
- Stage right, a fixed camera about half way back front row of the lower level
- Front of stage in front of the crowd spanning the full length of the stage on rails
- Stage left, camera on a boom going behind and in front of the stage over the top of the wall
- Static camera on a vertical riser just up and down behind Graham’s drum kit
- Roaming camera on the arena floor.
What was also evident was the lighting that was up on the front of the second tier, about 25 single small spots either side of the venue, plus a group of 6 each side of the venue pointed down towards the front section of the floor. There was also a lack of surround speakers, there was no surround at all for tonight (and the next two nights) shows. I remember in 2000 and the Portland show that they filmed and how the arena had to be lit most of the time due to filming, this looked like it was going to be the same too.
Everyone on the floor was holding a paper face mask similar to the ones given out at the Berlin show, these had been handed out to everyone who came in through the floor entrance, as James, Kami and I had come in through the lower level one we didn’t have any, well until I went back to the entrance and snagged us a few:) There were no instructions on the back like I’ve seen before, how would the crowd know when to wear them I wondered? As I was walking back from the rear of the venue I could tell there were no cameras at all in the venue either, there was no one taking pictures, no small LCD screens anywhere, no little red lights blinking, nothing at all! As we all stepped off the train there were people with megaphones telling everyone that cameras and mobiles would not be allowed in the venue and as we all walked closer to the arena there were people handing out leaflets to everyone just to make doubly sure everyone was getting the message. James, Phil, Kami and I hadn’t brought ours at all, we had left our phones and cameras at the hotel but even if we hadn’t there were small booths where people could leave them and get a ticket in return to pick them up after the show.
The wall itself was just the same, as was the stage setup, I had heard rumours that the venue would be decked out with banners hanging from the ceiling like at the original show in 1980/81 these were obviously just rumours or they had decided against this for some reason. We all took our places right on the front rail right in front of Dave and Snowy.
After the track “People Get Ready” the normal routine of the two guards bringing Pink out on stage didn’t happen, what we saw was the lights going down and a video of Roger appeared on the big round screen and on each side of the wall. He proceeded to talk (or try to talk) in Greek, failing at first and saying “Oh fucking hell” and “Ahh it doesn’t matter they will cut all this crap out anyway won’t they?”. They obviously didn’t and the crowd laughed as Roger messed up a few times. He looked real happy and was having fun saying whatever he was saying, we asked the people next to us what he was saying and they were telling how he was explaining that the shows were to be filmed and that everyone was to put on their masks at the beginning of Empty Spaces (this was obviously why there were no instructions on the back of the masks!)
The whole crowd let out a huge cheer at the end of Roger’s talk and we then heard the Spartacus shouts and saw the guards bring Pink on the stage. It started off as any other show did however the lights that I spoke about earlier were very evident during the show and if you looked round behind you could see all the crowd were lit a lot more than normal and the place wasn’t dark at all. The lights changed colour during each track, blue, orange, white etc the cluster of 6 spotlights came on and lit the front section of the audience at the end of each track too, this wasn’t as off-putting as I expected and after 3 or 4 tracks you didn’t notice them at all, what you did notice though even though we were on the front row was there wasn’t a single flash of a camera in the building! Not a single red light shining towards the stage either. The crowd were loud from the very start, they started singing the words to Another Brick within seconds and I was very surprised that Roger stuck to playing the new ending that he’s been playing at the last dozen or so shows, I was sure he would want the original version on the DVD, obviously not!
Dave’s guitar wasn’t to be heard during the first 15 seconds of Goodbye Blue Sky, and there was a feedback tone that had the crew looking at each other in confusion! It was obviously sorted out quickly and things were back to normal audio wise but it took a good 30 seconds.
As the animation started for the Fucking Flowers on screen I looked behind and saw people starting to put their masks on, I put mine on as did Kami, James, Phil and Matt. I looked around 30 seconds later and the sight was incredible, EVERY single person on the floor was wearing their mask! I couldn’t see one person that didn’t have one on, it literally was a “sea of faces” and all the same ones! Even the crew were all smiles looking at everyone in the audience wearing the masks.
Thanks to Simon Wimpenny
This is not a review of the show. If that’s what you’re looking for, there are plenty out there. This is a re-telling of my experience watching the show.
I got out of bed, at about 13:00. I went through my daily routine like nothing was happening. I put on a glass of ice tea and turned on my computer. My goal was to kill some time, before leaving. At about 15:00 I wake my sister up, and we start preparing. We left at about 16:30 and arrived at the stadium about 17:30. We had to go looking for the entrance in that massive complex they call OAKA, and wait there till 18:30 until the doors opened. The ticket said 18:00 but anyway. We were there early to get good seats, but we weren’t really in a rush.
To pass the time, we started talking to a group of friends that were waiting in line with us. They were mostly into metal, but didn’t want to miss “The Wall” and I can’t really blame them. After getting inside we took the best seats we could and waited. Not 2 minutes after sitting, a father with his son came and sat right next to us. He must have been around 35 and his son was 13 and a half(like he said). Turns out that he (the kid) was learning how to play the guitar and was a big fan of Slash. And apparently he knew Pink Floyd too. Not only that, but he had seen “The Wall the movie” as well. And this was to be his first concert ever. Lucky bastard! I would kill to be in his place.
When I was 15, “The Wall” and Pink Floyd in general were my Bible. They helped me get through tough times in my life, and identify with my emotions. To say that they had shaped me as a person would be an understatement. And there I was, waiting for what seemed to be a dream. Even the half built wall on the stage couldn’t convince me that I wasn’t in some dream, about to wake up.
And so to pass the time, we started examining the stadium. We saw a bombardier plane hanging from the ceiling and wondered at what point the plane was going to “take off”. The wall that was on the stage, and whether the bricks would fall on the fans heads when it would be torn down.
And as the time kept passing, the idea that we were there to see “The Wall” kept slipping away. Until about 10 minutes earlier than expected a video started playing on the wall. Roger sitting in a chair, reading out loud from a piece of paper. “Kalispera” (good evening) he said in Greek and in a pretty good accent, and the crowd went wild.
He talked about 2007 and the “Dark Side of the Moon” concert he gave, which apparently had blew his mind, more than it did ours, and the fact that he wanted to come back for another concert ever since. He asked to keep our phones in our pockets and not take pictures, and he asked the audience in the pitch to wear the masks they were given during “Empty Spaces” as part of the show.
And normally I wouldn’t even write about all that, but what I found great was that Roger had taken the time and effort to speak to his Greek fans in Greek!
I’m used to bands saying “Kalispera” or “Efharisto” but to see Roger trying to read from a piece of paper, what must have been a full page of text, in Greek, is something that shows how dedicated he is. So what if the video was heavily edited to cover the pauses? In the end, he was still talking Greek, and that is the biggest “Thank You” an audience can get!
And after the video was done, Pink’s doll was brought on stage and the show began. As the first notes of “In the Flesh?” echoed through the stadium, tears begun to roll from my eyes, and I found myself 15 again, sitting in my bed, listening to the album for the first time. I found myself 25 sitting in a stadium chair, enjoying the start of what was going to be the greatest show! And I found myself 40 years old, trying to convey that feeling to my unborn children when I tell them about the show. I found myself being everywhere and nowhere. Trying to hold on to this feeling, while digging back in my life to bring forth my 15 year old self, so that he could experience the show with all his naivity and adolescence. Trying to bring forth my 40 year old self, who could identify with the meanings but in a completely different way.
And I did. Because my 15 year old self, was in a way sitting right next to me, right next to my 40 year old self. And seeing the excitement, surprise, and terror in that kid’s eyes, I knew that that would be my reaction too. And having his father sitting next to him, I could relate with my 40 year old self, who would take his kid to concerts and raise him with Pink Floyd.
And in the time it took you to read this, the first part of the show was over. Or so it seemed to me anyway. Trying to take in the show, I was left with a big “Intermission” on the now complete wall. With nothing to do but discuss how awesome it was that during “Mother” the wall read “Fuck the Government” in Greek. Or how he got a kid chorus on stage to sing with him on Another Brick In the Wall(Part II) and boo the teacher off the stage. Or how that bombardier plane, crashed on the wall in the opening of the show. Or to tell the few people that didn’t know why they were there, that the show wasn’t really over.
“Please take your seats,the show will continue in 5 minutes” a voice said, and we braced ourselves for what we knew was coming.
The first few notes of “Hey You” can be heard, but no one can be seen. The Wall that was built on stage, had fulfilled its goal, of separating us from Pink, while he screamed, “hey you out there beyond the wall”.
And before you know it, “The Trial” is taking place, and Pink is sentenced to live outside the wall. The wall comes crumbling down, and I wish I could take a piece home with me.
But I had already taken something else with me. I had been “part of a spectacular event” as the poster said. And I know that as long as I live, I will look back on July 8th 2011 as the best day in my life. I had taken a trip back in time, remembered what it was that made me like “The Wall” in the first place, and what it is that I will always like about it. I had seen kids as young as 8 years coming in the stadium, and feel better knowing that they are leaving with their minds forever changed, like mine was more than 10 years ago. But most importantly I left the show, knowing that “The Wall” is, was and will always be a masterpiece.
P.S. One thing I left the show without is contact information from those we met there. If you happen to read this, get in touch.
Above with thanks to Theo Seretis
This show was filmed and recorded. As a result, ALL CAMERAS AND ALL MOBILE PHONES WERE STRICTLY FORBIDDEN and WERE NOT ADMITTED to the venue.