The first night had given a good overall big picture view of the Wall, but tonight we were much closer. The lights dim and the stage is bathed in red light. People are onstage holding flags with crossed hammers on them, and the hammers are projected onto a round screen in the middle of the stage. As the music of "In the Flesh?" builds to a crescendo, Rog takes the stage to great applause. We were close enough to the stage that we could actually see him as more than just a silhouette on stage. It always gives another level of depth to a performance when you can see the person's facial expressions and gestures. He strides over to a mannequin torso and removes a black leather trenchcoat. He puts it on and ties the belt around his waist. He puts on a pair of sunglasses as he says
If you'd like to find out what's behind these cold eyes.
You'll just have to claw your way through this disguise!
Roll the Sound Effects!
the Impresario orders. The flagbearers march offstage. We are seated on the side of the stage where the plane crashes during the climax of the song, and it does not disappoint. We could feel the heat of the fireball which erupted when the plane collided with the Wall. We were speechless.
"The Thin Ice" is told as a cautionary tale. Photographs of victims of war and terrorism are shown on the round screen and are then projected onto the Wall, looking like as many television sets as there are bricks in the Wall. It is a nice effect, as it focuses on individuals and then their larger part in the whole context of war. We were amazed by the sound quality in these seats. It had been good on previous nights, but tonight we could really get the effect of the surround-sound.
Searchlights scan the audience as "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" starts up, and suddenly the inflatable Teacher marionette is towering over the stage. We had a very good view of it, as it maniacally danced, looking like it was doing "the crane" move from The Karate Kid. The chords tumble into "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" and the troupe of dancing kids come onstage and help Rog to vanquish the teacher. The stage crew is starting to pile bricks onto the Wall.
Video: The Happiest Days of Our Lives / Another Brick in the Wall Part 2
Rog then comes out to the front of the stage with his acoustic guitar to greet the crowd..
Good evening Boston.
So happy to see you
Very good to be back
We had a great night here Thursday
A great night Friday
I know we're going to have a great night tonight!
This is a great music town
Always will be!
He hints that he is working on restoring the footage from the 1980 Wall concerts (they've already released the audio, but the video is currently only available as bootlegs) before settling down to duet with "that miserable young bugger from all those years ago". His acoustic guitar rings out as he accompanies his former self.
The inflatable Mother with her arms like mini Walls appears bathed in red light, glaring up over the Wall.
The black and white footage of Roger eventually gives way to the graphic of a surveillance camera. Text scrolls across the Wall: "Don't worry. Everything will be alright. Trust me. It's OK. Mother knows best." These slogans then become multilingual. One can't help thinking of the Berlin Wall as German text scrolls by, and of the U.S. - Mexican border fence as we read "Todo estara bien. La Madre sabe mejor." The music and the visuals are hypnotic.
During "Goodbye Blue Sky", symbols of divisive powers (religion, economy, etc.) are dropped by B52 bombers onto the countryside below. Blue sky gives way to red blood. It's a powerful piece of performance art.
Video: Goodbye Blue Sky
During "Empty Spaces", the Wall goes racing through the countryside in one of Craig's favorite animation sequences from the movie. Flowers turn to barbed wire. The end of "What Shall We Do Now?" is punctuated with a hammerstrike as we once again see the hammer images which will dominate the second act.
The Wall takes shape more and more during the grungy guitar riffs of "Young Lust". The very center is open and there are two other openings through which you can see the band members.
In the spotlight in front of the Wall Rog's haunting voice pleads during "Don't Leave Me Now."
A stark gothic image of a woman's face bleeds from its eyes and mouth. Echo is used to the same effect as on the album The large praying mantis-like inflatable marionette of the Wife with her large neon lips appears to the left of the stage.
The Wall is filled in more and more with bricks during "Another Brick in the Wall Part 3" and the aptly titled "Last Few Bricks". During "Goodbye Cruel World" we could actually see Roger's head through the single open brick which remained in the center of the stage. The stage goes dark as that last brick is placed and Rog's terse "Goodbye" hangs in the air.
After intermission, nobody is visible on the stage during "Hey You". The Wall looks particularly monolithic and imposing. The sense of isolation is palpable.
When the little trapdoor in the Wall opens and Rog is sitting in the hotel room vignette, we have a good view of him (although we can't see the neon Tropicana Motel sign from the angle we are at). Somehow this stage set-up makes the arena feel intimate. "I got elastic bands keeping my shoes on, got those swollen hand blues, I got 13 channels of "... Rog takes the mic away from his lips and points it at the audience. "Sh!t on the TV to choose from!!" they respond in unison.
"Vera" and "Bring the Boys Back Home" are every bit as emotional as they had been on the past two nights. Very powerful, very political. Every bit as applicable to today's wars as it is to World War II, in which Rog's father was killed.
"Comfortably Numb" is intoxicating. Rog engages the audience and urges them to wave their arms and sing along during the chorus. The guitar solos soar. We see Rog as he inspects the Wall for cracks as it towers over him. He knocks on a single spot wihand then the Wall erupts into color at his command.
The inflatable pig is back in top form as it floats out over the audience during "In the Flesh Part 2." Rog is once again wearing his leather trenchcoat, and is wearing an arm band emblazoned with the crossed hammers motifs which dominate the stage. "Run Like Hell" has some of the best computer animation in the show, as bricks appear to fly out at the audience. Rog crosses his forearms into a crossed hammer symbol.
Jenn's picture from "Waiting for the Worms"
Gerald Scarfe's animation takes center stage for the "The Trial". Rog stands to the side and plays the voices of the various characters, starting with the Teacher. The Wall appears to spin and there is a creature sitting in a fetal position in front of graffiti which says "iHate". The creature gives the audience the finger in very impressive 3D as Rog shrieks "They must have taken my marbles away!"
Rog then plays the role of the Wife, for which he uses a French accent and puts his hand coquettishly on his hip. Next he is the Mother. Rog paces in front of the Wall while the judge comes to his decision and sentences him to be exposed before his peers: "Tear down the F%$#ing Wall!!"
Chants of "Tear Down the Wall!" fill the arena. The excitement is reaching a fever pitch as various visuals from the show are projected on the Wall at dizzying speed. Some of it seems subliminal. The Wall sways and then collapses, tumbling onto the stage. The audience goes nuts
Roger and the band walk onstage and play an acoustic "Outside the Wall" as their curtain call. It
seems particularly quiet after the noise of the Wall falling. The music starts and red confetti flutters to the floor over the fans in a dreamy way. Since this is the last night and we are closer to the stage for this quiet part, it seems a particularly poignant way of ending not only tonight's show, but his stay in Boston.
All alone, or in twos,
The ones who really love you
Walk up and down outside the Wall.
Some hand in hand.
Some gathering together together in bands.
The bleeding hearts and the artists
Make their stand.
And when they've given you their all,
Some stagger and fall, after all it's not easy
Banging your heart against some mad bugger's
Jenn's picture of "Outside the Wall"
After much applause, the band starts up again and the members file offstage, leaving only Roger, who thanks the audience profusely. Roger has come a long way in the past 30 years. He had originally written "The Wall" as a young man unhappy with the trappings of fame and blameful of those around him for the things which he could not control. He felt contempt for fans and built an emotional wall around himself to try to protect himself from his fears. It is a very autobiographical piece. The Wall was built between the audience and the stage, and much of the second act back then took place with all of the musicians hidden behind the Wall.
But now, in 2010, Rog admits that he is a lot happier. He's not the same man he was back then. He's on the same side of the Wall as the audience now. He says on his web site that he thinks that "The Wall" can stand as an allegory as to how we as humans can use technology to help us to communicate and understand one another. "I believe we have at least a chance to aspire to something better than the dog eat dog ritual slaughter that is our current response to our institutionalized fear of each other."
When Pink Floyd first performed the work in 1980, it was only done in a handful of cities in the U.S. and Europe. It was such a huge production, that they were losing money on it. Kudos to Rog for putting this new production together and performing it in so many cities. Thirty years of intervening technology have made it possible for him to put together a spectacular event. It's more than a concert. Ticket prices are high, but worth every penny. Don't miss it!
Further reviews of the Boston shows:
Boston Globe Review
Boston Herald Review
Billboard Magazine Review
Worcester Telegram Review