Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Roger Waters live!

| June 11, 2012

Epic: it’s a word that gets bandied about so often that it’s lost a great deal of its impact. But back in 1979, when Pink Floyd released the The Wall, the word was the most concise and accurate way of describing the work. The opus was a sprawling four-sided behemoth that addressed a multitude of issues as complex as social tyranny, overprotective parenting, the devastation of war, the trappings of fame, false hero worship, and the dissolution of marriage. Light stuff, right?

Seated at the center of the storm was bassist and frontman Roger Waters, whose foresight was brilliant enough that his metaphoric use of “a wall” has remained current and versatile enough that it can still be applied today.

So that is precisely what Water’s has done. Treating this as a sort of victory lap, the prog-rock showman has taken the two-year-old road show into ballparks for the summer. His floating pig, massive wall, and multi-media extravaganza landed at Wrigley Field on a picturesque summer evening that seemed to be the polar opposite of the nightmarish visions that unveiled themselves in the tranquil, ivy-covered outfield.

As the first set progressed, a wall was slowly built, brick by brick, so that by intermission, the band were no longer visible. (A tough sell at $250 bucks a seat.) But the structure also doubles as a massive theater screen that plays host to no shortage of horrifying images including, but not limited to, corporate-icon dropping bombers, fallen soldiers (actually submitted by concertgoers), the Wizard Of Oz‘s Dorothy having her picnic basket being checked for IEDs, as well as footage from the motion picture that accompanied the release of the album.

It would all be an empty gesture, however, without the music. The Wall has spawned no shortage of rock-radio staples and all were in full effect over the course of more than two hours. Lingering acrimony has kept Floyd’s original players from touring as a cohesive unit, but his hired gaggle of musicians seemed more than up to the task. During “Mother,” one of the evening’s most stirring moments, Waters performed with a videotaped version of himself from Earl’s Court, circa 1980. The notoriously cantankerous band leader even dressed down his reputation before starting the song, berating his own narcissism. A sterling solo from former “Saturday Night Live” band leader G. E. Smith then sent the moment sailing over Wrigley’s retrofitted lighting.

A steady stream of hits followed: “Young Lust” was muscular and aggressive; “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)” received an assist from a jubilant, dancing children’s choir (who playfully taunted a giant marionette Schoolmaster); “Hey You” was unadulterated, performed with the musicians out of sight from the audience, buried behind an ominous, vacant obstacle that engulfed the entirety of the Cub outfield.

Although the show was nearly identical to the performance at United Center back in 2010, it still manages to resonate. The original vision of the work was that of looking inward, a glimpse into Water’s neurosis and frustration. The Wall 2.0 sets its crosshairs on more universal themes, specifically the barriers between people, governments, and religion that conspire to keep all concerned parties at arm’s length of each other. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it also features a spectacle like a floating pig the size of a CTA bus.

— Curt Baran

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Category: Live Reviews, Weekly

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