Reviewed by Luke Winkie, Fri., May 11, 2012
Roger WatersFrank Erwin Center, May 3
Virtual bombers dropping payloads of crucifixes, Stars of David, and McDonald's logos on impoverished landscapes; biographies from across the last century of dead soldiers superimposed on the same massive, white brick wall; an enormous, inflatable praying mantis vixen suspended from the rafters, flames for hair and saw blades for arms, both impressive and slightly misogynistic: These are just a handful of the relentless onslaught of words, images, sounds, deco, conflict, resolve, and money Roger Waters' disciples were assaulted with last Thursday night when the bassist, singer, and composer erected Pink Floyd's celebrated and contentious 1979 double album The Wall at the Frank Erwin Center. You certainly couldn't accuse the 68-year-old prog pioneer of phoning it in. This was a budgeteering feat, and no stop went unpulled. A local children's choir, the costumes, flying pigs, and, of course, the anime hammers all got their requisite show time. There was no organic wiggle room, the theatrics were scripted down to the bows. When Waters introduced "Run Like Hell," his script was literally projected on the wall behind him. An idealist would say Waters is doing his best tribute to Floyd's notoriously huge tours and its nutty mythology, but it's easy to be cynical when a diminutive, gray-haired Englishman is taking the stage to fireworks and hawking band shirts for $45. Maybe that's too harsh, especially in the face of Waters, solo on an acoustic guitar, harmonizing with vintage video of himself on "Mother." And how about the absurdly disturbing inflatable teacher lording over the crowd throughout "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)" or the sensory beatdown of "The Trial"? Man, that's the best bombast money can buy. The Wall is a paranoid, seasick album, and its live incarnation is about as physically demanding as an invasion, even if the "iProtest" puns felt a little easy. For Watersians, the performance was the closest anyone will ever get to the authorized Pink Floyd experience. If the music got left by the wayside, so be it.