April , 1980
By Will James
A Voyage through the Mind with Pink Floyd
"The Wall" Tour
With the sound of a high flying jet. I am taken back to the night before, when I stared mindlessly at a full parking lot and round coliseum from my window seat advantage point on final approach into La Guardia Airport. Perhaps there is someone flying over right now, coming in for tomorrow night's Pink Floyd show who will get this same sense of deja vu. And the little girl says. "Look mummy. There's an airplane up in the sky.”
Good-bye blue sky.
This is the last time we shall see an acoustic guitar until the end of the show. The electric sounds invade our ears like society taking over the mind of our main character. Good-bye youthful innocence, hello wall.
The screen up above the drummer's heads slowly reveals flowery images that emerge snakelike out of the distance. The earthy, chilling tones of something sinister accompany the flower's every transgression, going from flower to dragon to woman to praying mantis in three short movements There are so many startling images put back to back, I forget to listen to the music. At a show such as this, you must vary your concert priorities as the concert progresses. You can watch the band, or the visuals, or the crowd, or the balloons, or listen to the music, or pull your smoke, or drink your drink. It makes no difference in what order or in what quantity that is part of the Pink Floyd experience. You'll never get bored. There is no lime to think about what you’re doing, or seeing or hearing.
Large gaps in the well are all that is left to give us a view of the band. While an extra song (the words are on the album insert, but not the music) is sung: I take one last long look at what I can see through binoculars: Gilmour, Waters, and Wright appear to be mannequins or stuffed animals hidden behind war torn display windows.
“Another Brick in the Wall (Part 3)” hurtles us toward the completion of the wall. Waters sings sorrowfully from behind the last space, and then he is mortared from our sight.
The house lights are turned on for intermission, and I have slumped back down into my chair. Steve has already gone for cokes. Having seen this show once in L.A. and once here in New York before tonight, he knows when to hit the concession stands before the hungry masses converge.
While I wait for my parched throat, my eyes scan the multitudes of people roaming about the hall. I wonder how far have these people had to travel to get here? Am I the only one here from Oklahoma? Surely not, but then, who knows? Maybe by some karmic chance, equal numbers of people from each state are present tonight.
By limiting themselves to two venues. Pink Floyd has managed to assemble a mini-United State: each show. Each person is a representative of his/her friends and neighbors at the concert. We are a rock and roll Congress, but we were never elected. Our term of office is extremely short, we will all return home to our respective states and inform some percentage of the population as to our feedback on the concert.
I sip coke and chew on ice while house lights go cold. The person 60 rows in front of me has a great view of the wall, all three stories of it There is nothing else but a voice pleading, "Hey, you. Can you help me?" It is too late, we can do nothing but observe.
The film works are now projected directly onto the wall. To the left, a small section opens to reveal a room in the Tropicana Motel. From his easy chair, Roger Waters sings us a song about life on the road. Now we are privy to a star's glamorous lifestyle. The flashing neon vacancy signs, the cars whizzing past, and a New York TV station on the telie. This is the point where we go inside—inside the wall, under the skin of our character—inside his head.
Now Waters leads us through memories of bygone ideals, Vera Lynn, that lovely voice that was heard over the BBC during World War II, has a vision of her projected on the wall. Her life marches past like an old movie dissolving into marching soldiers. The boys will never come home, I'm afraid. They've been washed away in someone's yellowed-out photograph album.
Waters disappears to the left side to change characters.
A doctor returns in white coat Precision.
"Just the basic facts," he says. "Can you show me where it hurts?" The whole irony is the doctor speaks to one brick, while it is the whole wall that shudders in agony. The spotlight hits David Gilmour, high atop the wall. Our main character has now removed himself from all pain.
Through the re-introduction of the surrogate band through the hammering images of society, we run like hell, waiting for the worms to stop our never ending struggle to escape this wall. The trial, where Waters sings all the characters lines, builds both visually and musically, until the hall resounds with the wall's destruction. The band returns outside the wall, acoustic instruments in hand for the last songs and bow.
I listen to the dull roar in my head as we drive back to New York City. Three weeks later, when the roar turns to depression, t will realize how realistic the concept of the wall is, and how much one concert can do to throw off one's psyche....