The Wall was first pressed to vinyl in 1979. It was realized as the most incredible rock concert ever a year later. The film by Alan Parker followed in 1982. 25 million copies of the album have been sold worldwide since. Roger Waters played this show in front of over 300,000 fans in 1990 when the Berlin Wall came down. Ronnie Reagan probably rocked out. Your granny knows the Wall. The menacing bass of “Another Brick in the Wall” is ubiquitous. We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control.
The stated purpose of the Backstage Beat is to promote the arts in the cities it speaks to. Let’s get this commercial message out of the way before we try to understand the show that landed in Atlanta Wednesday night: There are only a few shows left. Call Delta. Tell your boss you’re taking off. Get to this show. See it. Live it. Raise your arms in triumph along with Roger when the first notes of “In the Flesh?” power through the stadium. Clap in unison to its anti-fascist anthems as the Berliners did 22 years ago. Make it happen – at all costs. You need to see this show.
The Wall is about isolation, alienation, war, recidivism, the manipulation of power through fear, the hopelessness of the powerless, and the apparent futility of the masses to make change. It’s about paranoia, the suffocating love of a desperate mother, narcissism, drug use and the failure of a marriage. It’s about honor-less death on a battlefield in Italy, Nazis, evil school masters, a rock star’s nervous breakdown and his ultimate redemption. It’s about us. It’s about you.
The Wall is the autobiography of Roger Waters, personified here as the hero Pink. The Wall is a cautionary tale. The Wall is a plea to the humanity in all of us to rise above the tyranny of governments and police states. The Wall is totally bad ass and quite simply the greatest rock and roll show ever devised.
Producing the Live 2012 version took a painstaking 8 months of preparation to meld modern technology, a host of non-Pink Floyd artists, and current events into a cohesive show that has become the most seamless re-imagining of the ground breaking album that has ever been attempted. At 68, Roger Waters delivers a 33 year old product that is more relevant today than when it first came through the Hi-Fi in ’79. He states that The Wall is a metaphor for the barriers that exist between human beings. Sadly, in the three decades since its release, more political and personal walls have been erected than razed. The actual Wall is a miracle of technical production, spanning over 140 yards in large stadia and bearing the images of over 40 high-definition projectors. The faces and bios of soldiers and civilians alike that have died in countless and pointless* wars are projected on Waters’ ever evolving, ever constructed and deconstructed wall. The original story of personal isolation is much broader now. This Wall searches for hope amidst global death and destruction.
“Hey you, don’t tell me there’s no hope at all. Together we stand. Divided we fall.”
The spectacle of the Wall culminates with “The Trial,” where Pink internally examines how he’s put himself behind the barrier that protects him. His judge and jury conclude that he must “Tear down the Wall. Tear down the Wall. Tear down the Wall.”
Perhaps there will come a time when all of us learn to tear down our walls and live in love and harmony. Perhaps the amazing journey that Roger/Pink has taken us on will resonate. Perhaps we can be better.
“Is there anybody listening? Does anybody care?”
*A few American conflicts since 1979 – the Cold War, Nicaragua, Panama, the Balkans, Operation Desert Storm, the attacks of September 11, 2001, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Afghanistan, the War on Terrorism and Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Yemen
All photos © 2012 Emily Kelsey