Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

A Wall like nothing you've seen before (+photos)

The Wall's producer describes the Pink Floyd-based show as 'theatre and performance art at the same time'. Photo / Steven McNicholl
The Wall's producer describes the Pink Floyd-based show as 'theatre and performance art at the same time'. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Its centrepiece is a stack of cardboard boxes - but fans heading to see Roger Waters perform in Auckland this week will see one of the most jaw-dropping shows in rock.

More than 30 years since the release of Pink Floyd's 1979 album, the band's singer, bass player and songwriter has brought his own The Wall tour to Vector Arena for four shows.

The Herald was given a backstage tour as the show's 180 or so crew readied the elaborate stage, props and pyrotechnics for last night's show.

Production manager Chris Kansy said the US$200,000 ($238,000)-a-day show was far from a band simply "plugging in their guitar and playing".

"It's a rock band doing theatre and performance art at the same time.

"We do an art installation. We create a piece of art."

The first song alone comes with more than 1000 shots of pyrotechnics. "We like to say that we start our show like most bands wish they could end their show".

"Teacher", "Wife" and "Mother" inflatable puppets 10m high mix with planes, flying pigs and other props.

But the centrepiece is the 70m Wall itself, "built" during the show using hydraulic scaffolding to place 242 cardboard bricks.

Halfway through, the bricks are stacked right across the arena - only to be smashed down during the finale.

Replacement bricks are shipped from the United States to tour stops across the globe.

"It's not just simply folded up into a brick shape," Mr Kansy says. "It is painted white for video, it has been flame retarded for pyrotechnics ... it's a very expensive venture that we have with the bricks."

And although the tour has become harder to handle, he says, its star, Waters, has gone the other way.

"He embraces the crowd ... He's not interested in putting a wall between himself and the audience.

"Years heal certain things and mellow people out and make them see things in a more positive light. You can only hope that happens to all of us."

Auckland is hosting four shows, and Ticketmaster has tickets for the concerts tomorrow and on Thursday.

- NZ Herald

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