Roger Waters at US Airways Center Last Night

Roger Waters

November 27, 2010
US Airways Center

British rocker Roger Waters performed Pink Floyd's album The Wall with style at the US Airways Center last night.

It was, indeed, a "show," as much a theatrical exercise as a musical one.

Since it's safe to say that at least most of the audience was already familiar with the context of the lyrics and the material being performed, Waters was able to largely base the show on visual storytelling. From the (totally non-anti-Semitic) symbols of society being dropped by B-52 planes during "Goodbye Blue Sky" to the captivating models shown during "Young Lust," there was so much to see. At one point, the visuals were packed with symbols of society from materialism and brand names to symbols of culture, from sex and partying to news broadcasts and images of war.

The show started off with flags that had the iconic marching hammers, along with more pyrotechnics than I've seen since Paul McCartney's performance of "Live and Let Die" earlier this year.

Throughout the set, more and more of a giant white wall was assembled in coordination with the music and its story of self-inflicted isolation. By the end of "Goodbye Cruel World," the wall was completely built, and by the end of the night it had come down.

The imagery was intense throughout: A gigantic wide-eyed marionette monster showed itself during the performance of "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2." During the song, 12 kids wearing bold "Fear builds walls" shirts sang along with the chorus on stage and shouted, "Teacher, leave us kids alone!"

With the aid of time travel, as he said, Waters picked up an acoustic guitar and played along with a video of himself singing "Mother" at Earls Court in London in 1980.

Roger played "Don't Leave Me Now" as a spotlight solo and got everyone pumping their fists like they were at a rally. A creature that was part female, part praying mantis from the 1982 film Pink Floyd The Wall plagued the audience during the song as well.

Waters air drummed and air guitared his way through an awesome performance of "Comfortably Numb." The US Airways Center got into the spirit of an arena rock concert during "Run Like Hell."

Highlights of the show included Roger Waters pretending to fire a machine gun across the sea of people in the audience during "The Show Must Go On" and the entire arena chanting, "Tear down the wall!"

Overall, the show was a grand production of illustrating giving power to the people, and the music's underlying political theme was driven home hard accordingly. Even the intermission was a war memorial-like display of a wall covered in pictures of war heroes and fallen loved ones.

Young people came out to the show to get an experience they weren't around for in 1979, and older folks came out to relive one of their favorite albums that helped them escape their teenage angst. Regardless, everyone who came out certainly got one hell of a show.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Roger Waters at the US Airways Center.

Personal bias: Not much, other than lots of excitement before the show. Pink Floyd is a rock essential, so I was looking forward to the performance.

The crowd: Mostly white guys with long hair in their 40s and 50s wearing all black. It was also easy to spot people in leather jackets.

Overheard: "That was a concert on steroids!"

Random notebook dump: Roger and his band got a little hard to see when the wall was almost completely constructed which made it hard for some people to see part of the performance. Thankfully, that was pretty much the only low point of the show. Also, while I was thrilled that the parents sitting in front of me brought their three- or four-year-old son to the show, I felt bad for how many disturbing images that kid saw last night. Oh well.

Set list:

Set 1:
In the Flesh?
The Thin Ice
Another Brick in the Wall Part 1
The Happiest Days of Our Lives
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2
Goodbye Blue Sky
Empty Spaces
Young Lust
One of My Turns
Don't Leave Me Now
Another Brick in the Wall Part 3
Goodbye Cruel World

Set 2:
Hey You
Is There Anybody Out There?
Nobody Home
Bring the Boys Back Home
Comfortably Numb
The Show Must Go On
In the Flesh
Run Like Hell
Waiting For the Worms
The Trial
Outside the Wall

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Lenni Rosenblum