Concert Review: The Wall Live, Vector Arena

By Scott Kara

Roger Waters is still in top form as he performs at Vector Arena. Photo / Chris Loufte
Roger Waters is still in top form as he performs at Vector Arena. Photo / Chris Loufte

Along with 12,000-or-so other people, I spent last night watching a 10m high brick wall being built - and it was quite a spectacle. No, this was no Grand Designs live on stage type show. This was the building of The Wall. Pink Floyd's Wall. Or more correctly The Wall built by the British prog' rock band's singer, bass player and songwriter, Roger Waters.

It's funny how the most popular show at Vector Arena this year - though Gaga might come close and Coldplay could possibly take the honours later in the year - was originally inspired by a bunch of repellant Pink Floyd fans.

Not that there were any of those types at the first of four Auckland performances of Waters' The Wall Live, with the three remaining concerts this week also sold out.

However, the story goes, that Waters came up with the idea for the double-album and rock opera out of frustration at some loathsome fans he came across at a concert in 1977.

Not only did he start writing songs about alienation and disillusionment, both key themes of the resulting 1979 album, but he envisaged a stage show where a wall was built between the audience and the band.

Not that the fans minded being shunned in the name of Waters' art. Because The Wall became a landmark album in Pink Floyd's vast canon of releases - and now, more than 30 years on, this stage show is one of the world's highest grossing concert tours.
And you can see why. Though key Pink Floyd members David Gilmour and Nick Mason are missing, 68-year-old Waters and his band, conjure up a sonic pallet of tension, drama and over-the-top pomp during the two hour performance.

Some of the music sounds vey much of it's time, with the prog'-disco clap-a-long of Run Like Hell showing its age, but you can hear the impact these songs have had on future generations. For example, the raunchy glam rock of Young Lust, with its catch cry "I need a dirty woman", reveals the influence bands such as Guns N' Roses and Motley Crue took from Pink Floyd.

The majestic beauty of Comfortably Numb still gets your heart pumping and got the crowd off their feet and singing, and the staunch anthemic groove and chant of Another Brick In the Wall Pt 2, with a troupe of local kids taking centre stage to emulate the school children of the album and The Wall film, was a highlight.

The second half of the show takes an even darker and more twisted turn, with Waters becoming more unhinged, gunning areas of the crowd down with a machine gun during In the Flesh, and it went all bombastic and Broadway during The Trial with its chant of "tear down the wall".

The real spectacle though was the building of the wall - with 242 bricks put in place during the first half of the show making a total of 424. Then there were the array of visuals (from those ever-menacing marching hammers to faces of people killed during war), the 10m tall string puppets dangling from the ceiling (including the cranky "Teacher" with his cane at the ready), and the opening pyrotechnics set the arena on fire (not literally).

The 2012 version of The Wall focusses more on anti-war messages and confronting poverty than self-loathing and alienation, because as Waters himself said, back then he was "poor miserable little f***** up Roger".

Times have changed. These days the world is different and so is "young and grumpy" Roger. Back in the day he despised playing large scale venues like this - but now he's loving it, and in top form too.

- NZ Herald

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