Visually stunning, sonically overpowering and emotionally thrilling, former Pink Floyd leader Roger Waters unleashed his latest multimedia project into theaters across the country last night, bringing back the exhilarating experience of his 2010-2013 live performances in a beautiful new big screen format.
Full disclosure #1: While I love Pink Floyd and The Wall album in particular, I find Roger Waters personally offensive due to his venomous anti-Israel campaign of recent years, specifically his strong-arm tactics to prevent other musicians from playing to Israeli fans. I did my best to ignore those feelings while watching the film to provide an objective opinion.
Full disclosure #2: I ate a California medically prescribed gummy bear about 10 minutes before the film started. It nicely counterbalanced any negative feelings I had and it kicked in right around Empty Spaces.
Review: Anyone who had the fortune to catch one or two or seven of Waters’ The Wall concerts a few years back already knows how awe-inspiring the performance was at the time (Read my reviews from various New York City venues here). Combining extremely high definition projection technology with the haunting music of The Wall and Roger’s seething rage against state violence and oppression, fans in arenas and stadiums across the planet rocked out to tracks like Another Brick In The Wall (part 2), Hey You, Comfortably Numb, and the rest of that landmark double album while Roger built a wall between him and the stadium, told an amazing visual story across it like a canvas, and eventually tore it down in spectacular fashion. There was never a doubt that a DVD was going to be recorded and released; the unexpected part was that Roger added in additional narrative and footage of himself traveling to the site of his father’s World War II death and (mostly) seamlessly integrated it into part of the concert and story.
The film starts slowly, as we see Roger start on his journey across the European continent to Italy, but once the concert footage kicks in with In The Flesh, you’re instantly transported to the sold out stadiums which hosted his performances. The film weaves in and out of both story and concert, but whether Roger’s personal footage moves you or not (it didn’t particularly resonate with me), the concert scenes are incredible.
Waters brought many innovations on tour with him, such as singing along with a recording of himself singing Mother from the 1981 tour, and bringing out local schoolchildren to sing chorus on Another Brick In The Wall (part 2), and the film presented those unique moments in all their glory. The new animations and video created for The Wall tour were also as stunning in the theater as they were in person, especially the 3D brick effects and heartbreaking montage of children reunited with their soldier fathers during Vera. Comfortably Numb was an exhilarating thrill all its own, especially seeing the shots of fans in the crowd singing along religiously to the chorus and in states of transfixtion during the guitar solo, and the satisfaction of the Wall coming down at the end felt as amazing in the theater as it did at the actual concerts.
There was also a bonus feature after the film, featuring Waters and drummer Nick Mason answering a couple of dozen questions from fans about Pink Floyd over glasses of wine. The opportunity to hear Waters frankly and humorously divulge new facts and unknown stories along with the ball-busting repertoire between the former bandmates is worthy of any Floyd fan’s attention in and of itself. Not only will even the most die-hard fans learn something new, but the duo’s dry wit and frank honesty about the group’s fractious history was extremely refreshing as well.
This morning, Waters announced a number of encore dates for the film over the next few weeks. Check out your local listing here to find the next showings and locations.