Waters builds a relevant, satisfying 'Wall'

  • Article by: JON BREAM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 4, 2012 - 9:18 AM

MUSIC REVIEW: The reconstructed rock opera was better than in 2010, its updated references meshing well with its basic themes.

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If he rebuilds it, they will come.

Roger Waters reassembled all 424 bricks that become "The Wall" Sunday night at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul for the return of the theatrical presentation of Pink Floyd's beloved landmark 1979 album. Since 2010 when he first brought the show to the St. Paul arena, Pink Floyd mastermind Waters has done nearly 200 performances of "The Wall."

More than 13,000 locals witnessed "The Wall" this time, down about 2,000 from two years ago. Seeing the show a second time was surprisingly more satisfying. Here are several thoughts about Waters and "The Wall."

• "The Wall" is a rock show that is as much about the show as the rock. It cost $60 million to build the set, which will have a supersized version for stadium shows this year. For those outdoor extravaganzas, the Wall will be twice the size of the one at the Xcel.

• The minute the lights went down at the X, the pot came out. Don't Floyd fans realize this isn't "Dark Side of the Moon"? This is not a feel-good experience. "The Wall" is a dark, depressing, thought-provoking exploration of alienation, isolation and rebellion.

• In this rock opera, Waters extols 1960s values writ large -- anti-war, anti-authority, anti-greed. With updated references to 9/11, the war in Iraq and the notion of iKill in the show, his message still resonates with overwhelming relevance 33 years later.

• Waters, 68, seemed more relaxed, more comfortable and more dramatic this time. Does marrying Wife No. 4 in January have anything to do with it?

• Even though this was a theatrical presentation, not a concert, Waters stepped out of character in the middle of the first of two acts. After performing "Mother," he thanked the crowd and then introduced singer Robbie Wyckoff.

• As any Floyd fan knows, Waters left the band in 1985 and has had a strained relationship with Floyd guitarist/singer David Gilmour ever since. It took four people to handle Gilmour's part: Wyckoff to do the vocals and three men -- Snowy White, Dave Kilminster and G.E. Smith -- to tackle the guitar work. Has Waters thought of a Gilmour hologram?

• At one point Sunday, I thought maybe Gilmour had snuck into a seat behind me, but it was just some drunken yahoo bellowing the lyrics at the top of his lungs.

• Last year, Waters released a seven-disc boxed set of "The Wall" -- including demos, live versions and a making-of DVD. The original 1979 version is two discs; it ranks as the third best-selling album of all time, with 23 million sold in the United States alone.

• The only addition to the show is a brief acoustic coda to "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)," during which Waters reflects on a Brazilian man who was brutally killed by police in a London subway station in 2005 because he was mistaken for a terrorist. And the singer explained that the man's parents still want accountability.

• For the record, Waters used a giant, inflated black boar to float over the crowd, whereas Pink Floyd famously used a giant, inflated pink pig. Neither will be appearing at this year's Minnesota State Fair.

• The highlights were "Comfortably Numb" with Kilminster's majestic guitar solo while perched atop the wall, and, of course, when the wall comes crumbling down, a feat of engineering as intricate as Floyd's music.

• In more than 40 years of concertgoing, that was the best sound I can remember hearing in an arena. Clean, crisp, rich, resonant and rocking.

• My wonder "Wall" question: How many plain black T's has Waters gone through while performing this show 200 times?

Follow Bream on twitter: @jonbream

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