What to Do Tonight: Roger Waters — The Wall Live

“Is there anybody out there?”
  • “Is there anybody out there?”

More than 30 years ago, Pink Floyd’s main songwriter Roger Waters endured a legendarily difficult creative birthing process in order to unleash The Wall, a complex, highly theatrical rock opera based on some of the most painful experiences of his life.

The double album reached No. 1 and became one of the best-selling records of all time. Songs like “Comfortably Numb” and “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” have turned into classic-rock staples. The album spawned a 1982 movie and inspired the most elaborate concert spectacle ever attempted by a rock band. Pink Floyd literally built a wall onstage each night, performing behind it, on it, and above it as animated films and giant inflatable characters bustled around them.

It was a technical marvel that perhaps pushed too far. The band was never really pleased with the visual presentation of the show, to the point where plans for a concert movie were eventually scrapped. The shows were so physically complex and emotionally draining that only a couple dozen performances were ever attempted, which, combined with high production costs to run such a behemoth, ended up losing the band a lot of money.

The Wall also pretty much killed Pink Floyd creatively, fracturing the relationship among the band’s members and ending a decade-long collaborative roll between Waters and guitarist David Gilmour. Plus, the album is often cited as the point where Pink Floyd’s prog-rock crossed the line into bloat, with Broadway-ready string sections and onstage trial scenes replacing the sonic guitar explorations of the past.

So why is Waters digging all this up again, with nearly 100 concerts in a brand-new worldwide tour called The Wall Live? Considering the story is based on his father’s death in World War II and how the loss turned his mom into an overprotective mess and Waters himself into an isolated jerk, you’d think he’d want to keep this material and these memories buried.

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