by Elsa Stoff
It’s 1979. Rock is considered dead to all but a few disco resistors, yet in the midst of this, a masterpiece known as The Wall is released by Pink Floyd. They go on a small tour of the “art rock” album. Now, thirty years later, the lead singer and main force behind the band, Roger Waters, is touring the The Wall again.
Once again, rock looks like it’s on the verge of dying. The now considered “classic rock” album is performing to sold out arenas to people holding on to their roots or resisting the mainstream pop that’s taking over the music industry. In both instances, New York is down to two rock stations, yet there is still a following of devoted music listeners who are unwilling to trade in quality for popular or danceable music. Here, on this 2010 tour, two generations join under the cause of amazing music.
Roger Waters, now sixty-seven years old, returned to his classic masterpiece The Wall at the Izod Center November 3rd and 4th. I attended the second of the two shows with my dad. Waters performed the album in its entirety in front of a sold out arena for the first time since 1990. People were not disappointed. To say the show was amazing is an understatement. Ranging from the experience to the music itself: the music and effects were spot on.
Waters was the force behind the legendary rock band Pink Floyd, and he managed to hit every note that he did when he was forty. In “Mother,” he sang along with a video of him performing its original 1980 Wall tour. The two performances were perfectly in sync.
To figure out why the album was so successful, we have to ask why it held up for 30 years. The album says something about society and makes a political statement while being extremely good music. Each song in the album is a masterpiece, every note was thought out, and the arrangements were performed and written by talented people. Also, Waters is a good singer. Often, recent popular music overlooks these aspects in favor of a catchy tune or good dance beat. The Wall is not a dance album. It oversteps those bounds, and says something about each of us by creating the wall as a metaphor for isolating ourselves from other people.
The concert was so successful because it integrated the old message that is exploited in the 1982 movie with more modern themes, including an antiwar message. The concert’s effects mixed the war era of the album’s time and my generation’s time. Waters asked people to send in pictures of loved ones who died fighting for the nation in the Middle East. Their faces were projected onto the 36-foot wall during intermission, and footage of children recently being reunited with their war veteran fathers is shown during “Vera.” IPods are parodied during “In the Flesh,” and Bush shows up right before Hitler. The fascist dictatorship portrayed by the hammers reflected Nazi Germany, and there was a communist hammer and sickle on the antiwar pig which floated above the crowd during “In the Flesh.” World War two was more prevalent in society in 1980. The messages sent by the album were proven to be relevant today, and Waters demonstrate that they still affect my generation.
The analytical part of the concert was not the only way Roger Waters connected The Wall to present day. The special effects were amazing. The show featured pyrotechnics, a thirty six foot wall, technologically complicated projections, and giant puppets. It created a dark and menacing feel that replicates the repressing shadow government places over our lives. The show amounted to a bone rattling chant to “tear down the wall.” The wall crashes down at the end and lets in the rest of the world. The effects create this feel perfectly, and the puppets were a true work of art. “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” features a teacher puppet that looms over local school children dancing to the song.
I am amazed that I was able to experience this merging of generations in the form of the classic album The Wall. I was given a chance to experience a concert like my dad did as a teenager, and my dad got a chance to re-experience his youth and reconnect with the people of his generation who formed a community through these concerts. He never talked to any of them, but being there and feeling the same things because of the music, gave them a level to connect on. I was able to be a part of that, despite my age. That night, all of us were able to break down our own walls separating us from the rest of the world. That is what qualifies music as “good:” to have staying power that can converge generations.