Roger Waters, The Wall, Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL – 6/8
Photo by Norman Sands
Before delving into this account of Roger Water’s The Wall Live tour, I’d like to warn the reader that there will be detailed accounts of the extravagant production in this article. You may wish to go to the show before reading this review.
From left to right field corners, the signature ivy covered brick wall of Wrigley Field was transformed into a white-washed cinder block division between the field and the bleachers. The ballpark was made into the most fantastic music venue in the city for one evening early in June as Roger Waters brought his production of The Wall to Chicago.
With the first strike of the guitar, fireworks launched from the stage to reach the height of a home-run ball and vanish without a trace, leaving a sea of sulfurous smoke upon the field. A series of red flags cut through the mist, handled by black-clad men on a bridge spanning the wall. Massive projectors bring the wall to life in animation as a plane descends from the roof of the stadium to crash against the wall and disappear with flame. With that the show had begun.
As Waters joined the band to play “The Thin Ice,” the performer’s anti-war message started to weave its way into the show. The faces of souls whose lives were lost in war were displayed on the round screen hovering over the band. As a new face would appear, the previous would make a leap forward and occupy a brick in the wall. With the opening of “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 1),” the visage of the projections upon the wall became a sea red as blood below the urban skyline.
A helicopter extended out from the stage to play the visual part of the well-known sound scape, its spotlight cut a path through the crowd. The sound of its blades whirring was audible in complete surround sound as the Wrigley Field P.A. system came to life. When the speakers filled the stadium with the eagle’s cry that opens “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2),” a grotesque puppet reminiscent of a mutant Harry Potter unfurled, and a troupe of children traded blows with the beastly Teacher as Waters sang “Leave those kids alone.” The massive rampart that is The Wall began to receive new bricks to the sound of a dial tone; the building process would continue throughout the first half of the show.
The image of an underground rail speeding along the base of the wall came to a halt, and Roger and his band performed a tune that is not on the album. The image of Jean Charles de Menezes was displayed above the band as they played the song, following which Waters told the crowd of Menezes’ tragic death, killed by police in a case of mistaken identity. He clearly warns the captivated audience in the President’s city of the dangers of state violence and the slippery slope to tyranny.
Waters then introduced the next song, which he performed as a duet with his younger self. As the modern day Waters equipped himself with an acoustic guitar, a video of Roger Waters performing “Mother” in 1980 filled the wall behind him on the stage. As a new brick would take its place in the wall, the matrix of the image the projectors cast upon the bricks would instantly adjust to include the new piece of the puzzle. With the line “should I trust the government” bloody red letters exclaiming the words “no fucking way” emblazoned freshly placed bricks. Appearing behind the left side of the wall, the puppet representing mother was cloaked in a veil of authoritative aristocracy, her arms made of bricks.
The themes of tyranny that run through the wall took on a new light in “Goodbye Blue Skies.” The falling bombs from the lyrics fell from the weapons bays airplanes projected on the wall. The bombs were symbols of tyranny, first religious symbols from the seven corners of the earth. The religious powers were soon joined by corporate logos and the all-mighty dollar sign in reigning destruction down upon the promise of a brave new world.