Roger Waters and The Wall Live Tour finally found their way to San Diego for a sold out show at The Valley View Casino Center Sunday night. The mammoth tour that Waters took around the world in 2011 made its triumphant return to North America for a string of shows that Waters claims will be the last for The Wall tour.
The opening cannon shot of “In The Flesh” kicked off the concert. But calling it a concert would definitely be doing it a disservice. A round of pyrotechnics, a dive bomber plane crashing and exploding into the side of the Wall, followed by Waters’ appearance in full trench coat Wall regalia was a full blown production. Upon entering the arena, a glimpse of the elaborate stage show was openly prevalent, as a quarter of the Wall was already constructed. And with each song, followed in exact order as the historic 1979 concept album, another piece of it was added by the numerous roadies. Waters, using the half-built Wall to project images in-line with the album’s themes of mother dependency, isolation, industrialization, media, and abandonment, created a giant backdrop for his visual arrangements.
Tweaking the show ever so slightly to modernize the message from the original Wall Tour, Waters used the imagery to enhance his universal themes and broaden its scope. On each stop of The Wall tour, Waters has asked people to send in pictures of their own fallen heroes, which he projects on the Wall to personalize the message of loss. Even though I was unaware of the people chosen for the visual, it added another layer to the powerful statements being conveyed.
Also employed were 3 massive fan favorite puppets, the first one appearing during “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2).” The scolding teacher puppet, dropping from the ceiling, was besieged by the “We don’t need no education” refrain from local students of San Diego’s School of Rock, exemplifying another theme that Waters has been incorporating on the tour. Each show features local school children playing the part during the staging of one of the biggest hits from the album. The puppets’ life-like movements were yet another example of the amazing technical quality that the show offered.
As the first act came to a close, the entire Wall had been built, cutting off the audience from the band. Waters’ last few whispered words of “Goodbye Cruel World” brought the lights up for a short intermission.
From behind the Wall, Waters opened the second half with the classic “Hey You,” and soon after, the giant pig was unleashed, floating above the audience for a few songs. Once again, Waters chose to expand on the theme, this time using an angry, black horned pig with graffiti written on it instead of the iconic Floyd pink pig.
The band, which played a good percentage of the night behind the Wall, was in perfect sound. Guitarist Dave Kilminster, who covered the majority of the David Gilmour solo, definitely held his own, especially on the iconic “Comfortably Numb,” where Kilminster was placed on top of The Wall for one of Gilmour’s, and even rock ‘n’ roll’s, greatest guitar solos.
After the show reached it’s climax with “Comfortably Numb,” the animation of Gerald Scarf used in the movie version of The Wall, was used to display the marching hammers for “Waiting for the Worms” and his bizarre drawings for “The Trial.” With chants of “tear down the Wall,” echoing throughout the arena, the Wall finally came tumbling to the ground.
The Wall Live Tour is not only an incredible stage show and musical triumph, but it serves as a touchstone for the universal themes presented. Waters’ raw, wide open confession of feelings provides a depth in the material that still resonates profoundly with his audience 33 years later. With the scope and pageantry in the way The Wall Live Tour was presented, put together by 50+ musicians and roadies, not to mention the technical crew (and largest sound board I’ve ever seen at a concert), Waters’ stunning visual and auditory presentation of his musical masterpiece was equally as meaningful and spectacular as it was in its inception.