Roger Waters returns to Vancouver and makes The Wall his biggest ever

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At B.C. Place on Saturday, May 26

When Roger Waters brought Pink Floyd's The Wall to Rogers Arena in December 2010, he delivered nothing short of a prog-rock spectacle for the ages. His mastery of live sound, lighting technique, state-of-the-art video, and immense staging combined to bring that monumental 1979 concept album's themes of isolation and oppression to life in a show that was truly unforgettable.

It didn't seem like there was any way in hell that Waters could have made his performance of The Wall any better than it already was, so when he came back to town last night he just made it bigger instead.

A lot bigger.

For the large stadiums, like B.C. Place, that are part of Waters's latest North American tour, the centrepiece of the show—an enormous wall of white "bricks" that is built up during the performance and then torn down at the end—was drastically enlarged. Up to 500 feet wide, the wall constructed for the big stadium shows is double the width of that used for arena gigs, and—according to the bumf provided by promoter Live Nation—is "the largest projection surface ever toured in live entertainment".

Size does matter. Especially when it comes to the music of Pink Floyd.

Apart from the much bigger wall—and the additional 22 video projectors required to fill it with the biting sociopolitical imagery Waters is known for—not much else seemed different from the 2010 show. The highlights were the same, including the part during "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" when a group of kids wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the message "FEAR BUILDS WALLS" railed against a giant puppet teacher wielding a pointer. And the video shown during "Bring the Boys Back Home" of children breaking down when their returning soldier dads surprise them in their classrooms is still as heart-wrenching as ever.

Then there was the plane that soared over the heads of the floor crowd, crashed into some bricks at stage left, and "exploded" during the opening song, "In the Flesh?". That little spectacle never fails to get your attention.

But with all the emphasis on effects and staging, one thing that can get overlooked when Waters builds The Wall is the stellar band that helps him do it. And it doesn't help that the musicians spend so much time hidden behind the wall itself, of course. But Waters would be the first to acknowledge the contributions of the 12 singers and instrumentalists who accompany him. For the record, they include backup vocalists Jon Joyce and Mark, Michael, and Kipp Lennon (all cousins); second lead singer Robbie Wyckoff (who handles all the parts David Gilmour used to sing); keyboardists Jon Carin and Waters's son Harry Waters; drummer Graham Broad; and guitarists Dave Kilminster, G.E. Smith, and Snowy White (he was in Thin Lizzy! Yeah!).

Actually, even though he'd be the first to acknowledge their contributions, Waters wound up doing it last, when the tuckered-looking players were brought out in casual duds to perform the closing number, "Outside the Wall". Then they all just stood there, soaking up the wild cheers of the crowd, until Waters decided the adulation was sufficient. It seemed like a long time, but hey—they'd earned it.

You can follow Steve Newton on Twitter at twitter.com/earofnewt.

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28 Comments

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steve james

May 27, 2012 at 7:48am

Know the facts. That "folksy" song is in fact the last song on the album. Music journalist? You should be ashamed

Steve Newton

May 27, 2012 at 10:36am

steve james: you're right, and I am ashamed. My only excuse is it was five in the morning when I finished writing the review and my brain was barely functioning. Not that it has to be five in the morning for my brain to barely function. anyway, the offending error has now been repaired

Cockrock Ricky

May 27, 2012 at 11:01am

Awesome, awesome show. Rogers voice and stage presence is amazing. The visuals are mind boggling. Not much I can say bad about this show accept.....BC place stadium itself. The show was billed as an "outdoor"experience yet the 500 million plus dollar roof remained closed on one of the nicest days of the
year. The roof looks hoaky and full of potential problems and I'm no engineer. Also, bought floor tickets, (DON'T buy floor tickets to this show) and
fans stood the whole time. Had they all sat down we would have got our $250 bucks worth. Hot spots: Mother, Goodbye Blue Sky, Don"t Leave Me Now, Nobody Home, In the Flesh.

Rob Watters

May 27, 2012 at 11:41am

I think you've got to be standing during Another Brick Part II and Run Like Hell. Most of the people around me sat the whole time. This was not on television, this was an event actually happening before our eyes.

Duncan

May 27, 2012 at 12:14pm

The Wall is not my favourite Floyd. Kind of over rated. Roger should have been at the Spiritualized show taking notes. Now that was a great psychedelic show!

Pat Crowe

May 27, 2012 at 7:17pm

Steve...plane crashed stage left. Damn good show. Top notch. A beautiful day too!
Got floor seats from the box office for a hun each at 5:30 pm, the day of the show. Scalpers tried to sell me the same seats in the same row for seventy bucks more just a minute before. So on the floor in the back for a hundred bucks. The sound was very, very good at the back of the floor but when we wandered up front and center just in front of the mixer for Mother the sound was exactly the same. Only slightly louder. I was very impressed as well with the massive top center cluster facing straight down. All of that as well as the stadiums JBL system tied into it as further reinforcement. That was a crazee sound system!! The sound effects were outstanding.
For the second part of the show we moved to the rear of the floor to take in the full aspect of the walls video and avoid the crunch. You really had a better seat the further back you were.
Not bad for a hundred bucks. Stayed reasonably sober. Fought off drunk chicks. Went home respectable.
Fucking Van Halen anyways fuck off Van Halen.

Steve Newton

May 27, 2012 at 8:29pm

you're right, Crowedaddy, it was stage left. I've repaired that as well. Not my shining moment as a rock cricket. oh well, there's always the next Van Halen show!

Pat Crowe

May 27, 2012 at 9:41pm

Van Halen concert drunk chicks are nasty.

Martin Dunphy

May 27, 2012 at 10:07pm

From where I was, it was stage right-centre. Stage left only if you are speaking from the performers' perspective.
Unless someone dropped something in my $50 lemonade.

Martin Dunphy

May 27, 2012 at 10:10pm

Newt:

Chirrup, chirrup. Chirrup, chirrup.
In my book, you are a great rock cricket.

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