Roger Waters: “The Wall” at Yankee Stadium |

Roger Waters: “The Wall” at Yankee Stadium

July 18, 2012

Review by Mike Bafundo 

Roger Waters brought “The Wall” to the South Bronx for a stop at one of the most iconic stadiums in all of sports. The crowd had a very diverse makeup of music fans, with a mix of Dead/Phish shirts, to Slayer/Iron Maiden shirts, and older people with polo’s. Being a Yankee fan my whole life, and going to see games at the stadium, it was a strange feeling walking in the atrium, and seeing a totally different crowd.

The stage was set up in left-center field, with the over 70 foot high wall stretching across the outfield. The wall had an opening in the middle where the stage was. Many sections were unsold due to blocked view, or had speakers set up all around the stadium, surrounding the crowd.

When the lights dropped, two soldiers dressed in the marching hammers uniforms walked onstage carrying “Pink” (the rag doll, and main character of “The Wall”) while audio from the film “Spartacus” was playing. After the soldiers marched off, leaving “Pink” on the stage, a solo trumpet played the theme of “Outside the Wall,” when out of nowhere, the fireworks went off for “In the Flesh?” Crew members dressed in the fascist uniforms, carrying flags of the marching hammers emerged. After the pure evil melody line, Waters appeared for the opening verse, “So ya, thought ya, might like to go to the show.” The idea of “The Show” was a reoccurring theme throughout the night (with lyrics like “That’ll keep you going through the show…” and “The show must go on…”) “In the Flesh” ended with a model fighter plane crashing into the side of the wall with a burst of fire.

The band then continued with “The Thin Ice,” where we see a picture of Waters’ father, which then is shrunken down and became a brick in the wall. Images of fallen loved ones, because of war, were sent in from fans were then shown on the screen, and became bricks projected on the monstrous wall.

During “Another Brick in the Wall Pt.1,” scaffolding emerged as the crew started building up the wall, brick by brick. Leading up to “The Happiest Days of our Lives/Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2,” a search light on a crane reached out of the stage and shined down on the crowd. The speakers around the stadium blasted the sound of a helicopter propeller, along with the “You! Yes you! Stand sill laddy!” When the lights came up, the giant puppet of the school master was dangling in front of the wall, and local school children came out to dance during the guitar solo.

After the song, a projected train went by on the wall, where gunshots were lighting up one car. Waters then reprised “Another Brick in the Wall.” This part of the show was dedicated to Jean Charles de Menezes, a man mistaken for a terrorist, and murdered by the London police in the Tube System (their subway). Waters then greeted the audience, and announced that he would now perform “Mother” along with a live vocal track from the original Wall tour.

Symbolism then took place off of the stage, involving the security. During “Another Brick of the Wall Pt.2”, a couple next to us were ejected for being accused of smoking. In reality, the people in front of us were smoking, along with many others in the area but the security guard said she saw them. Everyone around us, including me protested, but the security guard said she saw the woman next to us blowing out smoke. By the time “Mother” started, a barrage of flashlights were scanning our section. It even got to the point where the security guard stood next to me shinning her light throughout the crowd, where I had to tell her to stop, as she was ruining the experience.

“Mother” took on a new meaning, where it is less about an over-protective mother, but rather Big Brother. It was only fitting that when a giant security camera was shown on the screen, a flashlight went off over my shoulder. They didn’t quite get that they were exhibiting the very thing that the show was protesting. “Mother also included a giant inflatable Mother, and after the lines, “Mother should I trust the Government?”, “No Fucking Way!” was projected on the wall.

“Goodbye Blue Sky” then followed, with planes being projected on the wall dropping corporate and religious symbols as if they were bombs. I couldn’t help but feel it was ironic that they very well could have dropped little Yankee symbols along with the Shell and McDonald’s logos. This piece does a great job of transitioning from major to minor, creating an eerie and uneasy feeling, and shows “Pink’s” fall into depression

“Empty Spaces/What Shall we do now?” contained animation from the original film, including the flowers sequence, and the screaming face of the wall. I must say that the technology was amazing. The sound quality and levels were perfect, and the projectors’ quality was crystal clear, even from the upper deck. A friend of mine worked in the stage crew for the Hartford show, and told me that there were no monitors on stage, but rather underneath, and the sound came through the grates.

“Young Lust” featured something that we hadn’t seen much of throughout the show, which was improvisation. The piece featured great solos from guitarist Dave Kilminster, as well as organist Harry Waters, who also happens to be Roger’s son. “One of my Turns/Don’t Leave me now” featured some of Waters’ (Roger) most strenuous vocal work, which he pulled off without a hitch, and had another giant inflatable puppet of the cheating wife character.

Throughout the show, the stage crew was building up the wall, brick by brick, and by the time they got to “Another Brick in the Wall Pt.3” and “The Last Few Bricks”, which served as a medley of pieces in the first set, the wall was almost fully built.  The set ended with “Goodbye Cruel World,” with Waters being seen through the last hole in the wall, and finally sealed up with the final brick.

When the lights went down following intermission, the opening riffs of “Hey You” were heard, but nobody was on stage. All that was seen was the fully built wall, while the band hid behind playing the piece. Then for “Is There Anybody Out There?”, a piece of wall was removed, revealing Kilminster and G.E. Smith (SNL Band) on acoustic guitars for the instrumental piece. A section of the wall was also removed for “Nobody Home,” showing Waters singing alone in a hotel room.

“Vera/Bring the Boys Back Home” was the most emotional moment of the night. Waters stood alone in front of the wall, with video of children being surprised by their parents returning from active duty. The close-ups of their faces got to just about everyone in the stadium, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the building. The fanfare of “Bring the Boys Back Home” then energized the crowd, and a Dwight Eisenhower quote was projected on the wall.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.”

Then came the show stopper. “Comfortably Numb” was amazing. Vocalist Robbie Wyckoff sang Gilmour’s part, standing above the wall on a cherry picker along with guitarist Dave Kilminster, who played a scorching solo. Meanwhile, the wall exploded (projection) with the stones of the wall being blasted away, and a psychedelic burst of colors covering the wall.

“The Show Must go on” then brought in the next element of the spectacle with a doo-wop vocal group leading in the pseudo-fascist segment. Pillars with the marching hammers emblem appeared, and “In the Flesh” returned. This time with Waters in full uniform, a stage full of soldiers, and of course, the inflatable remote-controlled pig. (The song personally contained more off the stage irony with the lyrics “There’s one smoking a joint!” from earlier security experiences)

“Run Like Hell” started off with Waters asking, “Are there any paranoids in the audience?” Then “shooting” off blanks from a prop gun, as the crowd clapped along to the beat. Throughout the piece, images of world leaders, dictators, and poverty-stricken children with headphones, and phrases like “iTeach” and “iFollow” The piece ended with footage of fighter pilots in Baghdad killing camera men, mistaking their cameras for guns.

“Pink’s” imaginary fascism segment of the story continues with “Waiting for theWorms”, in which Waters is yelling in-audibly through a megaphone. We also see more of the original cinematic animation proceeds, along with an updated animation of the marching hammers. “Waiting” spins more and more out of control, until “Stop” comes. “Stop” temporarily calms down the chaos, as “Pink’s” narrative explains that he wants out of the situation that he is in. This leads to “The Trial.”

“The Trial” features the original animated sequence, with some minor nuances, like a revolving wall, and a creature wearing a mask that’s flipping off the outside world. Waters did the voices for each character that reappeared for the trial of “Pink’s” sanity. Nobody made a sound, until Waters screamed those five beautiful words, “Tear Down the Fucking Wall!!!” The crowd then joined in the chant of, “Tear Down the Wall!” as the cardboard monstrosity came crumbling down.

In front of the rubble, Waters came out playing the trumpet for “Outside the Wall” along with the rest on accordion, mandolin, and other acoustic instruments. The final piece ended on an uplifting note with lyrics like, “The ones who really love you walk up and down outside the wall.” This finale contained elements that are reminiscent of “The Band” who helped out Waters in the Berlin version. (On a side note, why is it that so many bass players play trumpet? Phil Lesh, Flea, Entwistle, Paul McCartney, and many jazz bassists play trumpet, and I’ve always been curious what the correlation was). Waters then introduced the band to the audience, thanked the crowd, and walked off the stage as the crowd gave a standing ovation.

Waters’ live adaptation of “The Wall” was possibly the most amazing thing that I have witnessed. The stage, the technology, and most importantly, the music were all done to perfection. This was more of a theatrical production, than it was your typical rock show. “The Wall” has certainly taken on new meanings since its conception. It has become not as much about sanity, but more about the atrocities of war, and corporations like the media feeding us information that we are told to believe and fear. What Waters is saying, is that “The Wall” is what we have to break through in order to live together as human beings.

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