What separates an amazing concert experience from an ordinary concert? Is it the fact that your favorite artist is playing one of the most popular albums in the history of rock in its entirety? Or maybe over-the-top visuals such as crashing stuka planes, fireworks, and political images projected onto a wall that stretched across the entire outfield?
Well if they are, then it’s safe to say Roger Waters’ show is truly an amazing concert experience because it had all that, and more.
After mesmerizing audiences worldwide with his “The Wall” tour for nearly two years, Roger Waters, founding member of legendary band Pink Floyd, brought his tour to Yankee Stadium on July 6th to play the first of two nights on his second US leg of the tour. Performing the 1979 multi-platinum concept album “The Wall” in its entirety, plus a few songs that were left off from the album, Roger Waters brought a show that left the crowd dazed during the whole night.
A “show of shows” is the most-fitting expression for Roger Waters’ performance, as the theatrics and visuals were as emphasized as the music itself throughout the night. With a white wall that stretched the entire outfield and nearly 40 feet high, Waters used it as a canvas to project stunning images and videos while it also served as symbol of the wall that the character “Pink” in the album builds to separate him from society.
The show was powerful, and the music and theatrics imbued a wide range of emotions onto the crowd as the night progressed. The opening number “In the Flesh?” saw fans turn awestruck as fireworks, flames, and a crashing plane lit up the darkening sky. As the opening words to “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” began, the crowd went wild and sang along to every word. The song also brought the appearance of the schoolmaster puppet and a group of kids onto the stage to do some lip syncing and dancing on the second verse.
Waters’ political views were projected many times throughout the show during songs such as a reprise of “Another Brick” which served as a tribute to Jean Charles de Menezes who was mistakenly killed by the London Metropolitan Police. Also, “Mother” and “Goodbye Blue Sky” had images criticizing major industries, religions and governments throughout the world.
As the first set commenced, the wall was slowly being built up one brick at a time, and when Waters himself put in the last brick to finish the wall during “Goodbye Cruel World,” one could not have helped but feel a little bit of loneliness and despair.
When the intermission came, the obituaries of those who passed away during previous conflicts such as World War II and the Vietnam War were shown on the wall; however a truly emotional moment was in the second set during “Vera” when the videos of young children reuniting with their parents returning from service stretched the entire wall. “Comfortably Numb” was another very powerful performance, especially when Waters pounded the wall and an explosion of color began to spread across that wall.
Towards the end of the show, a feeling of unity came over the audience as the whole stadium echoed with the chant “Tear down the wall” during “The Trial” in order to free the fictitious character “Pink” from his isolation. When the wall finally came crashing down, the cheering was at its height, and the standing ovation persisted through “Outside the Wall” right up until Waters finished introducing his band at the end of the show.
Throughout the performance, Waters built a wall around the audience that served as an escapist. But when the wall came crashing down and the show came to an end, and just like “Pink”, the audience had to go back into their lives and continue living in the world of their own walls.