Roger Waters

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author AP date 11/08/13 venue Parken, Copenhagen, DEN

In order to analyse the show that is "The Wall" as a critic, one must forget all ordinary notions of what constitutes a rock concert. Quite simply, "The Wall" is an experience; a show of extraordinary proportions brought to life and curated by the charismatic, yet perpetually troubled former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters. The production dwarfs everything I've borne witness to in my five years of reviewing, with a monolithic 148-metre wide, 10-metre tall wall dividing the stage in two down the middle, and stretching across the full width of Parken Stadium. It consists of hundreds of cardboard bricks affixed with a white canvas, and thus functions as a 148m x 10m projection surface for a rig of dozens of FullHD projectors lined up at the back of the pitch. At the centre of the wall is a V-shaped, though curiously not symmetrical opening exposing the setup for Waters' ensemble of prodigal session musicians, including of course the legendary Dave Kilminster.

Once the actual performance begins with "In the Flesh?", one cannot but be struck with awe at the red and white fireworks and sparks dancing across, behind and above the stage as Waters enters clad in a black leather trenchcoat and sunglasses, a red band with a black-and-white hammer logo strewn across his left shoulder. His appearance is of course in keeping with the thematic content of "The Wall", which for all intents and purposes is the ultimate protest album by virtue of focusing on the pitfalls of capitalism, the Big Brother society and the shadow side of glamour. All throughout the near 3-hour set, projections both abstract and concrete related to the subject matter of "The Wall" transform the wall flanking Waters and his band to either side into a stunning, yet intensely dark visual story to accompany the songs - which are delivered through a state-of-the-art surround sound system which, contrary to most concerts that take place at the Parken stadium, provides a sound mix nigh on perfect: clear as crystal, and loud as rock music should be.

Subconsciously my thoughts are sent scurrying toward the production that KISS brought to Copenhagen earlier this summer, and at once I realise just how tacky and pompous its threatrics now seem, looking at how elaborate and elegant "The Wall" is in concert. Whether it's the sizable remote-controlled airplane circling above the audience during the first song, and then subsequently crashing through the wall in a ball of fire, smoke and flying bricks; or the monstrous puppet portraying a teacher, hovering over a dozen children brought in to deliver the choir parts of "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)"; Waters doing a scintillating duetto with himself by means of footage recorded at a Pink Floyd performance at Earl's Court in London in the 1980's; the subtlety with which the wall is gradually built up to fully obscure Waters and his band throughout the first half of the concert; or the hundreds of photos and stories of fallen heroes and icons, (including such historic figures as Gandhi and Sophie Scholl) as well as loved ones died in wars, acts of violence, or in fighting for justice; sent in by fans from across the world that cover the wall during the intermission after "Goodbye Cruel World" - the only useful word for describing this rock opera is spectacular.

But it is also thought-provoking. Looking at the projections during the intermission, one begins to comprehend the artistic shoulder which Waters offers his legions of fans, and in stark contrast with the sing-songs and drunken banter that would manifest itself at any other stadium concert during an intermission, here a reflective silence reigns over the venue for its entire duration. It is an appropriate pause for thought, and in terms of the shows dynamics, the perfect calm before the storm before the second half of the concert. "Nobody Home", "Vera" and "Bring the Boys Back Home" are delivered by Waters with his band fully obscured by the wall with beautiful and intense intimacy before "Comfortably Numb" woos every man, woman and child at Parken this evening; and is then swiftly followed by 'pointing out' homosexuals, hippies and other social deviants and Water introducing a machine gun and 'gunning' the audience down. It sounds silly, but in the context of the sombre atmosphere Waters has effected at this point, the feat comes across as positively bleak and gruesome, forcing the audience to face the profuse atrocities and injustice to which millions of people across the world are still subjected to this day.

The show culminates with "The Trial", at the end of which the colossal wall literally explodes, 'bricks' flying in every direction whilst the crowd screams in euphoria; with the mellower "Outside the Wall" concluding the proceedings on a strangely uplifting note. Leaving Parken, I find myself flabbergastered at having just witnessed... well, it would be gross injustice to call it a rock concert, so let's go with a rock show of absolutely monumental proportions.


All photos by Marika Hyldmar

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