Tag Archives: Amway Center

Roger Waters Dazzles Orlando with The Wall

“Rock concert” isn’t the right description.  Rock show? Rock extravaganza? Rock experience? Rock spectacle? Rock theater? They’re are all more accurate descriptions of what we were able to witness from Roger Waters’ The Wall Live, Saturday night at The Amway Center.

Waters brought his show to Orlando with a two hour production that actually brought The Wall extravaganza to an even greater level.  1979’s masterpiece, The Wall was Water’s seminal moment, and he’s taken the thirty years of technology and politics that have unfolded since to ratchet up the experience for fans everywhere.

It’s hard to imagine, but the spectacle that Orlando witnesses was actually toned down from the one he performs at outdoor venues! Still, what we saw on display was a near perfect rock ‘n roll experience. The show takes one of the greatest albums ever, updates the vision and ties in three years of animation effort to deliver a fantastic sensory experience.

roger waters the wall live
Roger Waters The Wall Live in Orlando (B. Hoenig)

The show started with a wall partially built about half way around the stage.  As the band kicked into “In The Flesh?,” Waters performed from in front of the wall structure with the remainder of the band visible through the openings in the wall.  The 68 year-old Waters sounded fantastic from the start. We also witnessed the only significant pyrotechnics of the show. They were impressive and perfectly timed, culminating with a model plane screaming across the crowd and exploding into the wall.

From there, Waters and the band went through the first two sides of the album.  There was minimal straying from the script, but in those brief moments, Waters seemed to be more affable than his former prickly self, and truly appeared to be basking in the warmth of the appreciative crowd.

During “Another Brick in the Wall,” we had a few nice treats.  A local group of singers took the stage to sing the children’s chorus and theatrically battled a huge inflatable demented teacher.  We also had our first real taste for David Gilmour’s replacement, as  Dave Kilminster nailed the guitar solo. Over the course of the night, we saw three different guitarists filling Gilmour’s void and Robbie Wyckoff ably taking his vocal leads.  Not the exact same perfection we could have expected from Gilmour, but truthfully, they were pretty damn good.

Throughout the show, the wall was just as much a focal point as the performers.  It was a technological masterpiece, where each block became interactive the moment it was installed. We saw some wild effects: a surging red sea, a battalion of WWII aircraft, freakish animated characters, worms, various effects to the wall itself and so much more. Some mind-blowing stuff, and every bit of it perfectly choreographed. The Amway Center really shined, as well. The surround sound effects and sound in general were excellent, and the ability to handle all of the effects so smoothly was impressive.

Two of the earlier highlights were a stark version of “Mother” where Waters sang a duet with a video of himself from the 1980 version of the song recorded live in London, and “Goodbye Cruel World” which he sang through the only remaining hole in the wall.  After closing the song, the final block was placed, completing the wall, which then stretched three stories high and the entire width of the arena.

The political messages and imagery throughout the show were prevalent and most centered on Water’s anti-war sentiment, driven by the deaths of his father and grandfather in World Wars II and I, and mistrust of government in general.

After intermission, “Hey You” was played entirely with the band hidden behind the wall.  It sounded great, but was admittedly odd never seeing the performers.  Shortly afterwards, a large segment of the wall folded forward revealing Waters in a living room setting staring at the TV. It was a wonderful theatrical touch to “Nobody Home,” and again Waters’ voice was perfect.

The remainder of the band basically played the entire side 3 of the album behind the wall, until the crowd favorite “Comfortably Numb,” which began with Waters alone in front of the wall.  At the beginning of the “David Gilmour” vocals, a spotlight found Wyckoff atop the wall. The vocals were perfect, and just as Gilmour’s signature guitar solo started, we spotted Kilminster high atop the opposite side of the wall and he absolutely nailed it, receiving the largest ovation of the night.

Roger Waters performing The Wall Live
Roger Waters performing The Wall Live in Orlando

For the last segment of the show, a drum kit rose from beneath the stage and the band performed from in front of the wall.  “In the Flesh” was another theatrical highlight, and Waters dedicated a brilliant version of “Run Like Hell” to all of the paranoids in the crowd.  The latter cut was the highlight of the show for me with absolutely stellar vocals from Waters.

Ten minutes later, the wall was a pile of rubble as the full band came out for a whimsical close with a nice unplugged version of “Outside the Wall.”  They soaked in the two minute standing ovation from the crowd before Waters introduced the fantastic players in the band, thanked the crowd and exited stage left.

A wonderful close to rock theater perfection.

Rock On! Cretin

If you were at The Wall Live, let us know what you thought of the show below.

TSO – Wizards of Winter

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The Wizards of Winter are back on the road this winter bringing their unique show to cities across the country.  I wondered if a review of their show belonged on a website dedicated to Rock and Roll Animals.

So, let’s do multiple choice; What exactly is a Trans-Siberian Orchestra show? A.  Rock Concert; B.  Broadway Show; C.  Opera; D.  Christmas Pageant?

The answer: “E” – All of the Above.  These guys rock, but it’s so much more than your standard rock concert. The best description, with all due respect to BNL has to be a Rock Spectacle.

I’ve heard folks knock them for being overly commercialized. They might be, but they clearly care about their fans. They stick around and sign autographs after the show, they give away programs and concert T-Shirts to lucky fans in the arena, and they donate serious cash to local charities.

Then there’s the refrain “they’re not a real rock band, their members change all the time.” They do, and truth be told, they have two touring bands during their hectic Christmas season. But, the core members have been together since they formed in 1993 as a band called Savatage. The same core group writes the music, designs the shows and then divides and conquers on the stages.

“OK, fine, they’re still just a big Broadway show, with nice actors, right?” Uh, no. These guys (and gals) can rock. Sure, they all have hair the Jennifer Aniston would kill for and look like Glamour models, but they are pure musicians, too. They play with an orchestra, feature an assortment of rotating vocalists, but make no mistake, their sound is powered by the seven primary band members – and they absolutely rock.

The first half of the concert primarily revolves around the band’s trilogy of Christmas albums.  A storyteller weaves the thread tying all of the songs together, and features some of their bigger hits. The vocals are spectacular, the eight piece string section spot on, the keys magnificent, the drums and bass powerful, and the lead guitars excellent.  It’s sort of Meatloaf meets Emerson Lake and Palmer, only in the 21st Century and with an amazing stage show. “First Snow,” “An Angel Returned” and “Christmas Eve Sarajevo” were the highlights.

This was my first full blown rock show in the new Amway Center, and the sound was great.  We sat opposite the stage in the second level – a perfect spot to enjoy the full breadth of the show.  The light show is the best I’ve ever seen, the lasers are fantastic, the pyrotechnics dynamic, and the sound was perfect.  Add in a flying catwalk that raises up 40 feet over the crowd and spans the entire floor, and a telescoping 2nd stage on the floor, and you see some cutting edge stuff.

The second half of the show offered a bit more diversity from the band including a few strong songs from their Night Castles double album. This portion is a bit darker, with the selections punctuated by a heightened pyrotechnic and fireworks show.  It was quite easy to forget we were inside.  Throughout it all, the music was pristine and the band thoroughly entertaining. The best song of the night was their classic “Wizards in Winter.”

For “Queen of the Winter Night,” the female vocalist climbed onto the secondary stage at the back of the arena and blew the crowd away with her amazing vocals. The band then threw in a nice drum solo on the most tricked up drum kit I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a bunch…

As the night wound down, they kicked into a spirited dueling keyboards segment that included a cool Charlie Brown symphony, and then slid directly into one of their own classic Christmas tunes “Wish Liszt.” From there, 2 1/2 hours after we started our journey, they brought the house down with their finale, the reprise of “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo.”

All told, a family friendly rock and roll spectacle, well worth checking out.

Rock On – Cretin