Roger Waters' The Wall @ Rod Laver Arena
So many of rock’s great records are times capsule of a sort – while they remain great records, the world has moved on, and divorced from their social and political context, they seem a bit silly. Now a god-fearing Republican, Alice Cooper was a charlatan. The righteous anger of the Sex Pistols burnt out like a jiffy firelighter. Lennon et al and their entreaty that All You Need Is Love seems hopelessly naive now. Not so the sulky paranoia of Roger Waters’ The Wall, which is perfectly updated for our age.
From the second the wizened Waters strides out on stage amidst opening pyrotechnics that make a Kanye West show look like Bon Iver, the tone takes you right back to the dark delusion of Thatcherist England. The grand but impersonal nature of Rod Laver, normally a detriment to touring bands proved a perfect background for this tale of isolation. Waters’ incredible vision and incomparable weirdness in writing this rock-opera seems to make as much – if not more – sense today, using both modern technology and the global mood of fear and paranoia.
For over two hours the audience is bombarded with unrelenting special effects – crashing airplanes, quadraphonic sounds, explosions, fascist soldiers, gigantic inflatable puppets based on the classic Gerald Scarfe imagery, the latest in projection technology, video mapping and a 100 by 10 metre brick wall built across the stage brick by brick during the show.
It would be a lie to say that Waters had aged as well as his creation. He can’t hit the high notes that he used to, and at times he stops singing altogether to let his 12-piece band prop him up while he strides across the stage, holding poses and gesticulating in a pantomime, not dissimilar to the giant marionettes that drop from the ceiling periodically.
That doesn’t really take away from the show. You go to see The Wall to see a gigantic, bloated, grotesque, amazing, spectacle – a once in a lifetime celebration of excess and introversion. It is all these things and all, and worth every penny.
BY LIAM PIEPER
LOVED: The grandeur.
HATED: The gentleman in the next seat who yelled out and outraged "No!" every time Waters asked if Mother thinks they’ll drop the bomb.
DRANK: One 15-minute-lineup $10 beer.
Photo credit: Charles Newbury