Roger Waters tears down The Wall at Madison Square Garden

By John Curley

SPOILER ALERT: Those readers that hold tickets to upcoming performances of Roger Waters’ The Wall Live might want to skip this review, as it details many points in the show.

The arena rock shows that I have witnessed in recent years have left me cold to a certain degree. So, it is a pleasant surprise to report that the most thrilling—and moving—rock show that I have witnessed in years took place the other night at the most famous of all arenas, New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Roger Waters’ staging of Pink Floyd’s 1979 album The Wall hit the Garden for the first of two shows on Tuesday night, October 5th. The show was just stunning—an audio-visual masterpiece—and it is, without question, the must-see tour of the year.

The Wall is one of my favorite albums, and has been since I first heard it as a teenager. Likewise, Alan Parker’s 1982 film of The Wall is a gripping piece of work. But seeing The Wall performed live in concert was just staggering. If this is Waters’ last tour, as he has hinted in numerous interviews, he is ending the touring part of his career on the highest possible note. This show is the one against which all future arena rock megaproductions will be judged. The music and images blend together perfectly.

The wall was partly constructed as the show began, and the stage crew continued to build it until it was completed at the end of the concert’s first act. The wall also served as the screen upon which many images were projected. During “The Thin Ice” and at several points later in the show, photos of soldiers killed in various wars were projected onto the wall. Waters, now 67 years old, was only five months old when his father, Eric, was killed in the Battle of Anzio. As a result of that loss, Waters has been an outspoken anti-war activist for years. He solicited the photographs from fans via a Facebook request prior to the start of the tour. The photos were a stark and poignant reminder of the loss of those brave souls, and served as a necessary comment on the terrible cost of war. Later in the show, video of children being reunited with their parents returning from overseas combat duty was shown. The clips were incredibly moving. I won’t soon forget the look on the face of the schoolgirl whose father surprised her by showing up in her classroom in uniform after returning home. When watching those clips play out on the wall, I couldn’t help but remember that Waters never got to experience that moment of glee as a child.

Other images shown on the wall were also quite powerful: the beautiful semi-nude groupie during “Young Lust”; bomber planes dropping images, like the Mercedes-Benz and Shell Oil logos, and not bombs; and hammers marching in lockstep. The animated Gerald Scarfe images shown in Alan Parker’s film were used in the show, and looked incredible when projected in huge form onto the wall. The sequence of the schoolteacher shoving faceless schoolchildren into a meat grinder still has the power to shock and outrage three decades after its creation.

Waters was joined by an excellent backing band, which featured Dave Kilminster on lead guitar, Snowy White on guitar, G.E. Smith on guitar and bass, and Harry Waters (Roger’s son) on keyboards. Harry Waters appeared on the original album of The Wall as a child, speaking the intro bit to the song “Goodbye Blue Sky.” Vocalist Robbie Wyckoff also deserves praise for his star turn on “Comfortably Numb.”

The show opened in spectacular fashion, with a replica German warplane swooping down from the Garden’s rafters and crashing into the stage during “In The Flesh?” Waters closed the show’s first act by singing “Goodbye Cruel World” through the only remaining opening in the wall. Following an intermission of about 30 minutes (during which images of soldiers and civilians killed in war were shown on the wall), Waters and the band performed “Hey You” completely behind the wall. The performance then moved in front of the wall, and Waters and the backing singers donned the black uniforms featured in the film version of The Wall. The uniforms included a red armband that contained crossed hammers, an image that was repeatedly projected onto the wall.

“Comfortably Numb” was a particular highlight of the second act, and it featured Kilminster and Wyckoff performing on top of the wall with Waters below them onstage.

The audience went into the show knowing that the wall was going to come down near the end of the performance. But it was still quite a shocking sight to see the wall crashing down at the conclusion of “The Trial.” Waters and the band then finished the show standing before the ruins of the wall by performing a spirited version of “Outside The Wall.”

The Wall covers many subjects—war, corporate greed, alienation, and the factory-like British education system, among others. It is a work of great emotional heft, and it is both thrilling and draining to witness. I’m writing this about 48 hours after seeing the show, and I remain in a state of shock. The performance was that good.

The Wall tour is one of the few tours that is making money this year, and is likely the only one that is actually adding, and not cancelling, performances due to the huge demand for tickets. The North American leg of the tour runs through December 14th. And it is one show that any lover of rock theater simply cannot miss.

The set list for Roger Waters’ performance of The Wall at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Tuesday, October 5th was as follows:

Act I:
In The Flesh?
The Thin Ice
Another Brick In The Wall (Part I)
The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)
Mother
Goodbye Blue Sky
Empty Spaces
What Shall We Do Now?
Young Lust
One Of My Turns
Don’t Leave Me Now
Another Brick In The Wall (Part III)
Goodbye Cruel World

Intermission

Act II:
Hey You
Is There Anybody Out There?
Nobody Home
Vera
Bring The Boys Back Home
Comfortably Numb
The Show Must Go On
In The Flesh
Run Like Hell
Waiting For The Worms
Stop
The Trial
Outside The Wall

Roger Waters performed a spectacular version of The Wall at New York City’s Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, October 5th.

REMAINING TOUR DATES
Oct 15, 2010
XL Center XL Center
Hartford, CT

Oct 17, 2010
Scotiabank Place Scotiabank Place
Ottawa, ON

Oct 19, 2010
Bell Centre Bell Centre
Montreal, PQ

Oct 20, 2010
Bell Centre Bell Centre
Montreal, PQ

Oct 22, 2010
Schottenstein Center Schottenstein Center
Columbus, OH

Oct 24, 2010
The Palace of Auburn Hills The Palace of Auburn Hills
Detroit, MI

Oct 26, 2010
Qwest Center Qwest Center
Omaha, NE

Oct 27, 2010
Xcel Energy Center Xcel Energy Center
St Paul, MN

Oct 29, 2010
Scottrade Center Scottrade Center
St Louis, MO

Oct 30, 2010
Sprint Center Sprint Center
Kansas City, MO

Nov 03, 2010
Izod Center Izod Center
East Rutherford, NJ

Nov 04, 2010
Izod Center Izod Center
East Rutherford, NJ

Nov 06, 2010
Madison Square Garden Madison Square Garden
New York CIty, NY

Nov 08, 2010
Wachovia Center Wachovia Center
Philadelphia, PA

Nov 09, 2010
Wachovia Center Wachovia Center
Philadelphia, PA

Nov 11, 2010
Wachovia Center Wachovia Center
Philadelphia, PA

Nov 13, 2010
Bank Atlantic Center Bank Atlantic Center
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Nov 14, 2010
Bank Atlantic Center Bank Atlantic Center
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Nov 16, 2010
St Pete Times Forum St Pete Times Forum
Tampa, FL

Nov 18, 2010
Philips Arena Philips Arena
Atlanta, GA

Nov 20, 2010
Toyota Center Toyota Center
Houston, TX

Nov 21, 2010
American Airlines Center American Airlines Center
Dallas, TX

Nov 23, 2010
Pepsi Center Pepsi Center
Denver, CO

Nov 26, 2010
MGM Grand Garden Arena MGM Grand Garden Arena
Las Vegas, NV

Nov 27, 2010
US Airways Center US Airways Center
Phoenix, AZ

Nov 29, 2010
Staples Center Staples Center
Los Angeles, CA

Nov 30, 2010
Staples Center Staples Center
Los Angeles, CA

Dec 03, 2010
Oracle Arena Oracle Arena
Oakland, CA

Dec 05, 2010
Staples Center Staples Center
Los Angeles, CA

Dec 07, 2010
HP Pavilion HP Pavilion
San Jose, CA

Dec 08, 2010
HP Pavilion HP Pavilion
San Jose, CA

Dec 10, 2010
Rogers Arena Rogers Arena
Vancouver, BC

Dec 11, 2010
Tacoma Dome Tacoma Dome
Tacoma, WA

Dec 13, 2010
Honda Center Honda Center
Anaheim, CA

Dec 14, 2010
Honda Center Honda Center
Anaheim, CA

Dec 18, 2010
Sports Palace Sports Palace
Mexico City, MX

Dec 19, 2010
Sports Palace Sports Palace
Mexico City, MX

Dec 21, 2010
Sports Palace Sports Palace
Mexico City, MX
May 10, 10 am EDT
Mar 21, 2011
Pavilhão Atlantico Pavilhão Atlantico
Lisbon, PT

Mar 22, 2011
Pavilhão Atlantico Pavilhão Atlantico
Lisbon, PT

Mar 25, 2011
Palacio de Deportes Palacio de Deportes
Madrid, ES

Mar 29, 2011
Palau Sant Jordi Palau Sant Jordi
Barcelona, ES

Apr 01, 2011
Mediolanum Forum Mediolanum Forum
Milan, IT

Apr 02, 2011
Mediolanum Forum Mediolanum Forum
Milan, IT

Apr 04, 2011
Mediolanum Forum Mediolanum Forum
Milan, IT

Apr 05, 2011
Mediolanum Forum Mediolanum Forum
Milan, IT

Apr 08, 2011
Gelredome Gelredome
Arnhem, NL

Apr 09, 2011
Gelredome Gelredome
Arnhem, NL

Apr 11, 2011
Gelredome Gelredome
Arnhem, NL

Apr 13, 2011
Arena Zagreb Arena Zagreb
Zagreb, HR

Apr 15, 2011
O2 Arena O2 Arena
Prague, CZ

Apr 16, 2011
O2 Arena O2 Arena
Prague, CZ

Apr 18, 2011
Atlas Arena Atlas Arena
Lodz, PL

Apr 19, 2011
Atlas Arena Atlas Arena
Lodz, PL

Apr 23, 2011
Olympiski Olympiski
Moscow, RU

Apr 25, 2011
SKK Arena SKK Arena
St. Petersburg, RU

Apr 27, 2011
Hartwall Arena Hartwall Arena
Helsinki, FI

Apr 28, 2011
Hartwall Arena Hartwall Arena
Helsinki, FI

Apr 30, 2011
Telenor Telenor
Oslo, NO

May 01, 2011
Telenor Telenor
Oslo, NO

May 04, 2011
Ericsson Globe Ericsson Globe
Stockholm, SE

May 05, 2011
Ericsson Globe Ericsson Globe
Stockholm, SE

May 07, 2011
Parken Parken
Copenhagen, DK

May 11, 2011
O2 Arena O2 Arena
London, UK

May 12, 2011
O2 Arena O2 Arena
London, UK

May 14, 2011
O2 Arena O2 Arena
London, UK

May 15, 2011
O2 Arena O2 Arena
London, UK

May 17, 2011
O2 Arena O2 Arena
London, UK

May 18, 2011
O2 Arena O2 Arena
London, UK

May 20, 2011
Manchester Evening News Arena Manchester Evening News Arena
Manchester, UK

May 21, 2011
Manchester Evening News Arena Manchester Evening News Arena
Manchester, UK

May 23, 2011
O2 Arena O2 Arena
Dublin, IE

May 24, 2011
O2 Arena O2 Arena
Dublin, IE

May 27, 2011
Sportspaleis Sportspaleis
Antwerp, BE

May 28, 2011
Sportspaleis Sportspaleis
Antwerp, BE

May 30, 2011
Bercy Bercy
Paris, FR

May 31, 2011
Bercy Bercy
Paris, FR

Jun 03, 2011
SAP Arena SAP Arena
Mannheim, DE

Jun 04, 2011
SAP Arena SAP Arena
Mannheim, DE

Jun 06, 2011
Hallenstadion Hallenstadion
Zurich, CH

Jun 07, 2011
Hallenstadion Hallenstadion
Zurich, CH

Jun 10, 2011
O2 World O2 World
Hamburg, DE

Jun 11, 2011
O2 World O2 World
Hamburg, DE

Jun 13, 2011
MCH Multiarena MCH Multiarena
Herning, DK

Jun 15, 2011
O2 World O2 World
Berlin, DE

Jun 16, 2011
O2 World O2 World
Berlin, DE

Jun 18, 2011
Esprit Arena Esprit Arena
Dusseldorf, DE

Jun 22, 2011
Papp László Budapest Sportaréna Papp László Budapest Sportaréna
Budapest, HU

Jun 24, 2011
Hallenstadion Hallenstadion
Zurich, CH

Jun 25, 2011
Hallenstadion Hallenstadion
Zurich, CH

Jun 28, 2011
Manchester Evening News Arena Manchester Evening News Arena
Manchester, UK

Jun 29, 2011
Manchester Evening News Arena Manchester Evening News Arena
Manchester, UK


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One thought on “Roger Waters tears down The Wall at Madison Square Garden

  1. Spoilers? Pretty much the same show as was done in 1980 at the Nassau Coliseum. The technology may have changed, but virtually every set piece in the show, from what I can tell, is the same. That’s not a bad thing. The original production was great. It probably took 5 or 6 years before I saw anything that came close to, matching the production.

    The downside? Like the original, it’s going to be a fairly short show. As I recall, it was under 2 hours (unless you count the intermission).

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