With a critical eye on venue access and performance Gini reviews Roger Waters 'The Wall' live at the O2 arena on Wednesday 18th May 2011.
The first time I went to a concert at the O2 I was somewhat anxious. I don’t like crowds and the O2 is a big venue, what would I find? We prebooked parking, the space was close to the venue and the system worked very well. The venue was as accessible as it claimed and the plentiful staff consistently helpful and polite. Our seats were easy to find and the areas designated for wheelchair users had good views of the performance.
I felt very safe in spite of the crowds and the atmosphere was fantastic. The security was, on the whole, very good although it did seem just a little over zealous at times. It was not intrusive enough to put me off.
Last time we stopped at a service station on the way and were asked about where we were going by a couple of young ladies promoting cosmetics: “Peter Gabriel” we replied and were rewarded by two very blank faces.
This time we are due to see Roger Waters and the media attention given to the amazing concert last week when the surviving members of Pink Floyd made a one-off emotional appearance together on stage, means that some of the young things I mention this concert to do have some idea of who I am talking about.
Surprising to me, the attention given to “middle-aged men in the audience weeping” seems to have resulted in the conclusion that Pink Floyd is a “man thing.” The girls would rather go shopping.
Sensuous and sexual
significant and sad
images are haunting me
as graphics build the Wall.
From pyrotechnic shock
via puppets and pig
I sit, suspended in
the music as a fleet
of logo-laden aircraft
drop their cargo as bombs.
Crafted as emblems of
value and trust, they fall
blood red, their half-life
splattered with dollar fall-out:
Shell, McDonalds, Mercedes Benz;
the Cross, Crescent and Star
condemned in their proximity
to the images of dead
and lost people, up there
on the Wall.
And is that Degas’ Dancer
So soon; too soon.
Drink Kalashnikov vodka
big Mother threatens
things will only get better;
we don’t need no education.
We do not know if we
are walled-in or walled-out,
but while we are demanding,
tumbling bricks herald
our new nuclear dawn.
For a visual artist and wordsmith like me The Wall offers something special. On the technical side I was slightly disappointed by the occasionally muffled sound; a longing for clarity echoed the longing for something better awakened in me by this haunting portrayal of humanity’s failure to be Human Kind.
This lack of precision with the sound was a minor detail that never threatened Roger Waters and his team’s ability to hold me spell-bound for an evening that was over too soon. The music and the excellent musicians did not disappoint.
Visually stunning, every sequence in the building of the Wall was a multi-layer feast leaving me hungry for more. Nothing felt contrived or over-clever and there were frequent moments of stunning simplicity reflecting the familiarity of the words and music surrounding my senses.
For me this was more than entertainment and while the message was polished it was never overworked. It was raw enough to hurt, but detached enough to amaze. Waters matched this with a performance that drew me through the almost strutting parody of a rock star to his personal declaration of well being tentatively delivered almost as a one-to one with each person in the packed venue.
I’m happy with myself now, and happy to be here: “Thank You” he said.
And: “Thank You” we hollered back.
The Wall Live is currently touring the world http://tour.rogerwaters.com/