Roger Waters, Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO – 10/29
Photos by Ellis Jones
A homeless man pushes a shopping cart around the arena while John Lennon’s “Imagine” plays over the P.A. The Shakespearian theatrics had started before anyone set foot on the elaborate stage and let everybody know they were going to be challenged every bit as entertained. By the time Roger Waters had finished the opening number, “In the Flesh”, half of the stage had seemingly blown up and his updated masterpiece “The Wall” had the audience already enthralled. The band sounded immaculate, despite obvious talent missing from the original recording. Roger made up for this simply with the sheer number of professional musicians. It was evident early on with his passion and attention to detail that he was not just cashing in. He was compelled to deliver the epic tale of Pink to a whole new generation. The story being as poignant and relevant as the day it was released with his former band in 1979.
Roger Waters performing as the protagonist Pink acted and used his beautifully broken voice to great ends. The material played in its entirety unfolded like a Broadway Play on steroids. Even with undreamed activities flooding your senses the humanity always shined best. Roger dragged us through his pain growing up, even putting images of his own deceased father on the wall. During “Mother” he sung a duet with himself as a young man. This was achieved by an earlier version projected everywhere. It was captivating and one of endless highlights. In the next section of music we dove deeper into Pink’s isolation. As the metaphorical wall is being built, the pain that builds each brick is dripping from this performance. “Goodbye Blue Sky” was stunning as all the background effects of the original music danced perfectly in step with the band. The first set ended with the wall fully assembled with one brick removed. Poking his head out and singing “Goodbye Cruel World” Roger Waters left the room breathless.
The second act exploded with a compelling “Hey You.” The massive band was delivering an unblemished version of this classic. All the while they are completely behind the colossal wall. Being separated from the musicians forced us to feel the isolation with the irony being lost on few. The wall was used effectively in moving the story along while setting the climate. Paced well between the absurd were powerful images and intriguing truths. Tragedies of war, religious icons and a slew of other issues that divide mankind flashed. A makeshift cheap hotel room folded out of the wall to give us our first view of Waters in this chapter. He let out the painful number” Nobody Home” perched depressed in a chair frozen in character. The production was trenchant in conveying how the lead character lost his sanity and his will to live. “Comfortably Numb” really took off and electrified the crowd. With a team of endless engineers making the impossible a stark reality. The whole arena exploded, if only to remind everyone they were still at a concert.
The next number “The Show Must Go On” the band was back in full view to reveal the most important message of the story. No matter how bleak life gets we have to learn from our pain and carry on. The show must go on indeed. The last act of this brilliant performance was awe inspiring and solidified it as legendary. As we arrive at the end of Pink’s delusions with “The Trial” the whole song being an animated nightmare. The band and the audience collectively screamed to tear down the wall. With emotions on overdrive, it exploded to the astonishment of all in attendance. After the band sang “Outside The Wall” in front of the smashed bricks, the remarkable evening concluded. It was everything that’s special about music, what brings us together all the while reminding us what petty notions walls are built on….