It happens every 30 years. The Wall comes to Southern California. I was lucky enough to go see the original Pink Floyd production back in 1980 ( a picture from that tour above) during the 7 night stand at the L.A. Sports Arena when I was just 16. Because of the complexity of the stage show, that tour only stopped in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Germany for a total of 31 performances. To this day, I can remember it vividly. I still say that was the most powerful show I’ve ever seen.
So here it is 2010, and Roger Waters brings his new version of The Wall to So Cal for 5 nights. When they announced the shows months ago, I called my sister (who went to the original one with me) and said, “Well, I guess we have to go, don’t we?”. So Monday night in Anaheim at the Honda Center, we did:
Now, the hard part. How to compare the two? Different, but both incredible in their own way. I think that is how I have to say it. I will start by saying that I almost immediately felt the absence of the rest of Pink Floyd musically. The touring band that Waters has put together is great, but there was something tangibly different hearing somebody else besides David Gilmour playing guitar. Second, the production values of the stage and the video and lighting effects of this show were absolutely stunning. Far and away a contrast to the last one. Where the 1980 version used the wall as a literal cutting off of the band from the audience, the new one looks at the every inch of the wall as a canvas for painting the story that Waters wants to express. Video clips play, animated effects have the wall exploding and reforming, signs and graffiti in all sorts of languages appears throughout the show complementing the story the songs weave.
Another big difference, where the first one was telling the story of feeling cut off from the world in a very raw emotional first person narrative, this one expands that to include a more worldly view. From riffing on Ipods, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there was a feeling of bigger picture to this show.
A great exception (in the picture above) was when Waters came out in front of the stage by himself with an acoustic guitar in hand, and talked about the original version of the show for a minute. He then introduced and played along with and sang a duet with a clip of himself singing the song “Mother” at one of the London shows in 1980 that was being projected up across the entire stage. Absolutely genuine and mesmerizing, and a great way to connect the two productions.
Different, but both incredible in their own way. Like the first one did, I get the feeling this concert will stay with me for a long time. I can’t wait to take my sister to the show in 2040…
UPDATE 12-16: Roger Waters showed up on Conan O’brien the other night to talk about the current tour. Here’s the clip: