“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.
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.
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.