“The Wall” is surely something to behold.
It’s like the king of concert tours. Since it was performed by Pink Floyd only a handful of times in its original form (and because it was so over-the-top even then), it has attained legendary status.
But instead of rehashing the same old thing, Roger Waters took it to the next level on Tuesday at Qwest Center Omaha.
Dancing puppets. Flying planes. Pyro. Animations. A flying pig. Video.
Oh, and there was that giant white wall, built up between the audience and the band, brick by cardboard brick.
Aside from a few longer guitar solos, there was no deviation from the original album. And there were only a few pauses — one for an intermission and two or three for Waters to take a minute to speak to the gathered crowd.
“Good evening, Omaha. Welcome,” Waters said. “So, it seems hardly possible, but we first did this thing back in 1979, 1980 with Pink Floyd. And here we are again.”
I confess to being a huge Pink Floyd fan starting in high school (wasn’t everybody?). And seeing “The Wall” live in concert has always been one of those unattainable dreams.
Floyd only did it several times in a handful of cities in 1979 and 1980 and Waters did it once more when the Berlin Wall came down.
Though a rumored appearance by Waters’ former Pink Floyd bandmate, David Gilmour, didn’t happen, the show was still — quite literally — a smashing success.
More than 12,000 filled the arena to watch Waters & Co. build up “The Wall.” And then (spoiler alert!) smash it all to pieces for the show’s finale.
Clad in a black T-shirt, black pants and white shoes, Waters was backed by a band of hired guns, including two folks (a guitarist and a singer) to take the parts of singer/guitarist Gilmour.
One of the climactic moments of the show takes place in “Comfortably Numb.” With the wall completely constructed, Waters sang his parts in front of the wall while the Gilmour replacements sang the chorus and played the guitar solo from the top of the wall.
That song is one of my Floyd favorites and that performance of it gave me chills.
Another cool moment was when Waters dueted “Mother.” With himself. His singing partner was actually a video of a “The Wall” show from about 30 years back.
Waters showed he was much more comfortable with fans than when he conceived of “The Wall,” which happened after he spit on a fan at a Montreal concert and thought a wall between him and the annoying gits in the crowd wouldn’t be a bad idea.
In Omaha, he waved at fans, encouraged claps and swayed to the music.
The original album and tour was about isolation. This time around, it was more anti-war, anti-capitalism and anti-poverty than about any kind of psychological issue.
In addition to wild and slightly creepy animations from Gerald Scarfe, projections on the wall and video screens showed images of poverty, soldiers and others who died in conflicts as well as video of planes bombing areas with crosses, dollar signs, Shell Oil logos and others.
Waters’ version of “The Wall” was everything I hoped it would be, but bigger and better.
When the wall came crashing down, and Waters sang in the rubble, I got chills again.
“Thank you, Omaha!” Waters said. “You were a great audience.”
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