Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Roger Waters live!

| September 21, 2010

United Center, Chicago
Monday, September 20, 2010

When The Wall was first staged by Pink Floyd in 1980, it may have been the biggest show on the road, but it was still stacked up against the production limitations of the time period. Primitive by today’s standards but no less ambitious, the initial outing played a mere 31 times to mixed reviews and some fans scratching their heads. But with the blockbuster movie in 1982 and the band’s breakup shortly thereafter, its legend only grew, convincing Roger Waters to celebrate its 30th anniversary with four sold-out shows in Chicago.

Even if the outing isn’t ideal since without guitarist David Gilmour (he and Waters are on speaking terms these days), at least the experience benefited from state-of-the-art sights and sounds. The barrage of images and explosions often managed to upstage the music, translating the double album into the epic rock opera it was originally intended to be.

More so than Waters’ 1990 one-off performance, this gigantic staging came across like a Broadway smash on steroids, complete with projections, pyrotechnics, crumbling bricks, and, of course, a flying pig. All the while, they helped progress the tale of lead character Pink, who grapples with the death of his father, a controlling mother, mounting frustration in school, and, later in life, rock-star status, followed by a failed marriage and hallucinations.

Waters’ current take on the tale of seclusion was sewn together tightly, thanks in part to an enviable 11-piece band (obstructed figuratively and literally behind the brick props), who greeted fans with the menacing cries of “In The Flesh?,” the contemplative ballad “The Thin Ice,” and the first installment of “Another Brick In The Wall.” From there, the mood and tension gradually escalated, from the hit version of “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)” to the psychedelic acoustics of “Mother” and the coming-of-age axe slinger “Young Lust.”

Yet the midpoint of the performance was particularly paramount thanks to “Hey You,” a pleading ballad that exploded with such raw emotion it rivaled the project’s classic “Comfortably Numb” (iconic guitar solo and all) in terms of riveting execution. The drama continued come “The Show Must Go On,” which found the previously invisible band stepping in front of the obstacle, draped in dark costumes and expressionless faces to fuel the interrogation anthem “In The Flesh.” “Run Like Hell” served as the true showstopper thanks to its militant hypnotism and a blackened pig flying high above the rafters, serving as a fitting symbol for the protagonist’s peaking paranoia.

Although essential to the storyline, “The Trial” and “Outside The Wall” were anticlimactic in comparison, closing out the night with a vulnerable view of the lead characters’ full circle quest through somber imagery and subdued songcraft. Nonetheless, those come down tracks and the two previous hours of brooding spectacle confirmed Waters’ unwavering ability to captivate with his concepts, which have only grown in grandeur and legend since their original presentation three decades ago.

— Andy Argyrakis

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Category: Featured, Live Reviews, Weekly

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