Roger Water’s current production of The Wall is so much more than a classic rock opera. According to Water’s it is intended to be theatre and is about “walls” that exist between human beings on both an individual level and an international level.
Part autobiography, part parody, and containing a whole lot of social commentary; The Wall connects on both an emotional and intellectual level. The performance starts with an ingenious opening that entices the audience to proclaim, “I am Sparticus!” After an explosion of red fireworks a cinematic display pays homage to real life casualties of humanities socio-political problems. (The 68 year old Water’s lost both his father and grandfather in wars.)
Four story tall puppets ominously make a threatening entrance to the classic lyrics.
We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all your just another brick in the wall
The current production has been updated but stays true to the original mixing in 21st century social commentary. A new song “The Ballad of Jean Charles de Menezes” is based on the “Another Brick in the Wall” melody. Menezes was a Brazilian man shot in the head seven times by the London Metropolitan police. The man was misidentified as a fugitive from the failed 2005 London bombing attempt and his family has never received any reparations. Water’s dedicated the show to “all the victims of State terror around the world.” He cautioned that when government is given too much power we are one step away from the slippery slope of tyranny.
I can only begin to describe the barrage of helicopters, black flags, storm troopers, floodlights, bombs and even a World War II British Spitfire fighter plane bursting into flames that made the visual production so stunning.
“Mother” was a big hit when the artist sang a duet with “a poor, miserable, xxxxxx-up, Roger from all those years ago” using a black and white movie clip of Waters during a rare Pink Floyd performance of “The Wall” from 1980.
“Goodbye Blue Sky” featured World War II bombers dropping Catholic crosses, dollar signs, Russian's hammer and sickles, Jewish stars and various corporate logos (Shell Oil, Mercedes-Benz, and McDonald's) as bombs. Two flowers copulated and waged war with each other during “Empty Spaces.” Animation was used to build the wall out of stereo components, luxury cars, guitars and expensive gadgets. “Goodbye Cruel World,” ended the first set. The Wall is now complete and all the sad faces are floating away.
After an intermission, the performance continued with “Hey You.” I did not expect the show to be so politically heavy handed. Together we stand, divided we fall. Is there anybody out there? Is there anybody in there? Are we all just “Comfortably Numb?” I will be thinking about the many messages for a long time.
The anti-war theme continues with “Vera” and “Bring the Boys Back Home.” The visuals feature the emotional reunion of children with military parents as well as images of war atrocities and innocent victims. Waters and the whole cast in full Nazi like costumes reappear. Waters then strafes the crowd with machine-gun fire. “The Trial” utilizes Gerald Scarfe’s animation from the 1982 film version of “The Wall.” The evil visuals are also reminiscent of Monty Python. As you would expect, in the end the wall is torn down.
The show was absolutely fabulous combining intense music with elements of theatre and cinema. Prior to the start, I was amazed at how much sound and production equipment was at the back of the stadium. It turns out that the world class visual production requires 42 high-definition projectors that beam thousands of animated images onto various sections of the wall. I have often been disappointed, but for this show, the sound quality at the arena was excellent. The entire band's performance was virtually flawless and at no time did one feel that it was an imitation of something lost in our past.
The following two interviews are very informative and will provide you with many video clips of the production.
The rest of this article is from Water’s website. www.roger-waters.com/
I recently came across this quote of mine from 22 years ago: ” What it comes down to for me is this: Will the technologies of communication in our culture, serve to enlighten us and help us to understand one another better, or will they deceive us and keep us apart?”
I believe this is still a supremely relevant question and the jury is out. There is a lot of commercial clutter on the net, and a lot of propaganda, but I have a sense that just beneath the surface understanding is gaining ground. We just have to keep blogging, keep twittering, keep communicating, and keep sharing ideas.
30 Years ago when I wrote The Wall I was a frightened young man. Well not that young, I was 36 years old.
It took me a long time to get over my fears. Anyway, in the intervening years it has occurred to me that maybe the story of my fear and loss with it’s concomitant inevitable residue of ridicule, shame and punishment, provides an allegory for broader concerns.: Nationalism, racism, sexism, religion, Whatever! All these issues and ‘isms are driven by the same fears that drove my young life.
This new production of The Wall is an attempt to draw some comparisons, to illuminate our current predicament, and is dedicated to all the innocent lost in the intervening years.
In some quarters, among the chattering classes, there exists a cynical view that human beings as a collective are incapable of developing more ‘humane’ ie, kinder, more generous, more cooperative, more empathetic relationships with one another.
In my view it is too early in our story to leap to such a conclusion, we are after all a very young species. I believe we have at least a chance to aspire to something better than the dog eat dog ritual slaughter that is our current response to our institutionalized fear of each other. I feel it is my responsibility as an artist to express my, albeit guarded, optimism, and encourage others to do the same. To quote the great man,” You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
Fallen Loved Ones’ is a request, from me, reaching out to ask you to provide a photograph and personal details of a ‘Loved One’ lost in war. Your ‘Loved One’s’ pictures and details would be included, along with those of my father Eric, in my up coming show THE WALL, as an act of remembrance. The ‘Fallen Loved One’ does not have to have been a soldier. Civilian deaths are equally, if not more, harrowing.
I make this request to you in light of my belief that many of these tragic losses of life are avoidable. I feel empathy with the families of all the victims and anger at ‘THE POWERS THAT BE’, who are responsible, in equal measure. Please join me in honoring our dead and protesting their loss.