Last Night: Roger Waters' The Wall at the Toyota Center

Note: A review of Waters' May 2012 show at Toyota Center is here.

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Photos by Jim Bricker
Roger Waters performed The Wall in its entirety Saturday night at Toyota Center. See our slideshow for more photos.
Roger Waters
Toyota Center
November 20, 2010

Ed. note: The sold-out Roger Waters show was so highly anticipated, we sent two reviewers. Tune in Monday morning to read our second write-up and to see even more photos.

When Roger Waters parted ways with Pink Floyd in 1985, it seemed unlikely he would ever reconcile with his former bandmates. After all, other groups like the Eagles and Sex Pistols had split up, and we all knew there was no way they'd ever get back together.

And aside from a one-off at Live 8 two years ago, Floyd hasn't. Waters' solo career enjoyed sporadic success (did we really hear singles from The Pros and Cons of Hitch-Hiking on the radio in '87?), and he did present an all-star version of his and Floyd's magnum opus The Wall at the fall of that other edifice in Berlin in 1990, but it wasn't until his "In the Flesh" and Dark Side of the Moon tours (in 1999 and 2006, respectively) that the idea of his revisiting the 1979 classic again became a real possibility.

That prospect came true for a sold-out crowd at the Toyota Center last night, as Waters and a talented cadre of musicians brought his tale of alienation and isolation to life for what one has to imagine is the final go-round for a boy named "Pink."

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What do you say about a show that opens with a WWII era German divebomber strafing the stage ("In the Flesh?"), then exploding in the upper reaches of the arena? Yeah, we don't know either, except maybe "holy shit." With very few exceptions, the crowd was hooked from the get-go, singing along to every anti-war/anti-prejudice anthem that marked the show's 2 ½ hour running time.

"The Thin Ice" came next, featuring pics and bios of war dead from World War II on up to both sides of the Iraqi conflict, while "Goodbye Blue Sky" sobered us with its depiction of bombers saturating the countryside with the traditional symbols of oppression - the cross, the dollar sign, the Shell Oil logo, the hammer-and-sickle, the Muslim crescent (which drew cheers from our section of the audience...way to be unclear on the concept, fellas).

For an older dude, Waters only seemed stronger as the show went along. "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" found him playing bass alongside a dancing group of children, while his rendition of "Empty Spaces," complete with scenes (from the movie) of the wall laying waste to civilization, gave us chills.

There was a brief intermission between "Goodbye Cruel World" and "Hey You" (or sides 2 and 3), during which we saw a Tweet deriding the concept of such a thing at a rock show. Point taken, except The Wall isn't that. It's performance art, as the visuals certainly proved. The projections worked seamlessly with the concert, and were as elaborate as anything we've seen at a live show, incorporating elements from Animals ("Run Like Hell") and playing alongside giant puppet versions of the School Master, Mother, and the Wife (the inflatable pig even made an appearance, though he'd been appropriately butched up - black and with tusks - for these modern times).

Waters himself is certainly in a better place emotionally (especially considering the circumstances that prompted him to come up with the concept back in the day), but the message of The Wall is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago -- maybe more so -- and Waters is as anti-war and anti-corporate as ever. Even though we found ourselves remarking, after hearing of the $70 hoodies at the merch table, that there must are apparently some aspects of capitalism he's comfortable with.



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