November 21, 2010
American Airlines Center
Dallas, TX USA
Review by David Huff
Photos by Barry Bond
I've never been that big a fan of Pink Floyd's The Wall, because I've always considered Dark Side of the Moon a superior effort. Roger Waters' live performance of this iconic piece of work changed my mind.
I first suspected I was in for something special when an announcement was made from the stage before the show started. "Roger doesn't mind you taking pictures with your cell phones during the show. However, as to not to interfere with the special effects on stage, will you please change the settings on your phone so there is no flash." And from there, the audience was instructed on what to do in order to keep their cell phones from flashing when they took pictures. From where I was sitting in a suite in the back of the arena, not one cell phone flashed the entire evening. And believe me, from my vantage point, hundreds of cell phone screens were visible. That was the first remarkable development in what would be an extraordinary evening.
One of the most fascinating things of this brilliantly produced concert was the subtle way an actual wall was built, brick by brick, on stage during the show. The spectacular lighting and slide show had the audience so captivated, you never realized the barricade between the band and the audience was cleverly being erected. When the hole in the wall was finally plugged, most people in the crowd were amazed the feat had been accomplished right before their eyes. They had been so wrapped up in the slide show presentation, props and music they just didn't even notice.
There are all sorts of metaphors and analogy one can apply to The Wall if you're trying to figure out just exactly what Roger Waters tried to accomplish with this introspective look at his life. The legendary war that erupted between himself and David Gilmore during the record's creation would be a good place to start. In the show, their relationship was best symbolized moments into the concert when a model Spitfire plane was launched from the back of the American Airlines arena. To the delight of the crowd, it sailed through the air and crashed into the wall, exploding in flames behind the barrier.
Most people don't know that while The Wall was being created in the studio, the live stage production of the show was also being constructed. Obviously modern technology has updated this stage production to allow it to travel from city to city, freeing it from a limited multi-date run in a single city, like it originally was presented 30 years ago. Again, I can't say enough about the slide show presentation that was the true star of the show. The dazzling effects really brought the music to life during the entire evening's performance.
Another high point of the show, and this is a first for me after witnessing hundreds of shows over the years, was the intermission. As the lights came on, and the fully built wall sealed off the stage from the audience, a slide presentation was presented on the edifice commemorating members of the armed forces that had fallen in battle. It was incredibly moving and touching experience to see the names and faces of loved ones who gave their lives in the service of their country displayed for all to see.
With the first half of the concert built around the construction of the Wall, the second half was devoted to its destruction. At one point in the show, it seemed as though parts of the wall were falling away in spectacular 3-D fashion. It was only later did you realize it was just a projection. And when the wall actually did come down, let's just say people sitting on the first three rows were treated to quite a scene. Multiple layers of bricks earlier constructed in front of them, literally came tumbling down toward them in mere seconds. Call it shock and awe.
And perhaps that term was the best way to describe Roger Waters' presentation of this epic masterpiece. When the music ended, the tall, angular bass player stood in front of the crumbled wall, appreciative and humbled by the fact his musical career was no longer defined as "us and them". With the crowd cheering, both parties knew no encore was necessary. Yeah, I'm still 'comfortably numb' with Dark Side, but maybe the 'great gig in the sky' truly was The Wall. Wish you were here!