Seeing ‘The Wall’ is believing in its frightful awesomeness

Still visible: Waters (right) and his band, not yet overtaken by The Wall.
Photo: Sam Morris

Visually, Roger Waters’ live Wall ranks with Daft Punk’s pyramid and Nine Inch Nails’ LED light show among the most breathtaking concert productions ever to come through town. Musically? The onetime Pink Floyd leader’s performance was such a spectacle for the eyes, it was easy to forget our ears were being treated to one of rock’s best-known albums Friday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Roger Waters: The Wall Live at MGM Grand

The Details

Roger Waters
four stars
MGM Grand, November 26

Not that anyone in the near-sellout crowd—apart, maybe, from those too close to the Wall for a decent angle—could really complain. Throughout two sets strictly comprising The Wall (2007’s Dark Side of the Moon stop also included a retrospective set), Waters took full advantage of technological advances made over the three decades since last he trotted out The Wall. This time, he used its surface as a backdrop for dazzling projections, delivering his dark and discomforting story in a way songs alone could not have. For those unfamiliar with the particulars, we’re talking giant worms, marching hammers and hideous cartoon renditions of the lead character’s domineering wife and mother. Other props popped in—large-scale marionettes, a plane that buzzed the crowd, Waters’ trademark floating pig—but the stage crew’s simple act of filling in the 35-foot-high Wall, brick by uniform brick, until the band was completely hidden for Set 2 opener “Hey You,” proved most mesmerizing of all.

Okay, so there were songs as well, typically staying true to their recorded form. Two “new” pieces—“What Shall We Do Now?” (from the 1982 film version) and “The Last Few Bricks” (a live bit from the original tour)—were tacked on, but the most jarring change, unsurprisingly, came when touring musicians were called on to handle David Gilmour’s famous vocals and guitar licks on “Comfortably Numb.” Still, The Wall is overwhelmingly Waters’ project, and at age 67, his sinister voice remains strong enough to keep longtime fans enrapt.

Although correlating World War II imagery (his pilot father’s death, the rise of fascism) carried much of the plot, Waters also updated significantly, interspersing chilling photographs and footage of soldiers and civilians killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, the World Trade Center, the London Underground and other modern-day battlegrounds—a Wall-sized reminder that lyrics focused on the tragedies of terror always feel sadly current.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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