|Roger Waters Toronto Review – Roger Waters The Wall Live June 23 2012|
“Pink isn’t well he stayed back at the hotel” – but Roger showed up with his surrogate band.
June 23 2012 – Note: Most of the text on this review is reproduced from our Roger Waters concert review from Austin, TX on May 8 2012 and from our Roger Waters concert review from Buffalo, NY on June 21 2012 since nothing in the actual concert has changed. Have a look at those articles for different pictures and video from those nights.
|The Wall in Toronto on June 23 2012|
Roger Waters stopped in Toronto for the fourth time on his two year trek across the world. The first three nights kicked off The Wall tour back in September 2010 at the Air Canada Center (about 18,000 attendance) and tonight on Saturday June 23, 2012 the entourage set up for one glorious night at the Rogers Center with 40,000 people in attendance. Not only was this show bigger it really did prove that for a masterpiece of epic proportions such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall bigger is indeed better.
Roger Waters – the bassist, vocalist, and main lyricist of Pink Floyd has been taking his masterpiece album The Wall out on tour across the world since 2010. The Wall was originally presented as a Pink Floyd album (1979), tour (1980/81), and movie (1982). This latest concert presentation is a spectacle in itself in that it reproduces the original gigs as performed in 1980/81 (which by the way only played in 4 cities since it was just so massive and expensive). It has of course been updated technologically and features some of the most advanced lighting and concert effects ever seen. It is selling out everywhere across the world and it is my personal belief that it will be the last time the world will see such a mega production from the classic arena rock era (as all the musicians are approaching or past their 70’s).
|The Wall in Toronto June 23, 2012 – Notice where the arena version of The Wall ends (red letters) and the stadium version extends to (G.E. Smith on guitar on either side of The Wall)|
The Wall has smashed attendance records in South America playing to over 750,000 fans across a record-breaking 15 open-air stadiums shows in Chile, Brazil and Argentina including a mind boggling 9 sold out shows in Buenos Aires’s River Plate Stadium with a capacity of 45,000 (yeah do the math – 675,000 tickets were sold just in Buenos Aires). Furthermore, the Pollstar Music Industry Awards, as voted by the music industry, has honored Roger Waters and The Wall Live with two of the highest accolades – the coveted “Major Tour of the Year” and “Most Creative Stage Production” of 2010. The Wall also won the “Most Creative Stage Production” for a second consecutive year in 2011. The album is also the 3rd biggest selling album in the States.
“The best arena show ever. Period.” – New York Post
The New York Post got that one wrong. We are declaring this show not the best concert of the year, decade, or millennium but the best concert ever. Period. The Wall is a musical masterpiece (not necessarily the individual songs – but the entire album consumed in its entirety from the first note to the end) and will be enjoyed for many generations to come. Add in massive visuals and theatrics to play out the album and you have something so unique and refreshing that it will stay with you for the rest of your life. Seeing it’s creator on stage performing it as he intended is quite the experience.
Wikipedia gives a very good overview of the work.
The Wall is a rock opera that explores abandonment and isolation, symbolized by a metaphorical wall. The songs create an approximate storyline of events in the life of the protagonist, Pink, a character based on Waters, whose father was killed during the Second World War. Pink is oppressed by his overprotective mother, and tormented at school by tyrannical, abusive teachers. Each of these traumas become metaphorical “bricks in the wall”. The protagonist eventually becomes a rock star, his relationships marred by infidelity, drug use, and outbursts of violence. As his marriage crumbles, he finishes building his wall, completing his isolation from human contact. Hidden behind his wall, Pink’s crisis escalates, culminating in an hallucinatory on-stage performance where he believes that he is a fascist dictator performing at concerts similar to Neo-Nazi rallies, at which he sets men on fans he considers unworthy. Tormented with guilt, he places himself on trial, his inner judge ordering him to “tear down the wall”, opening Pink to the outside world. The album turns full circle with its closing words “Isn’t this where…”, the first words of the phrase that begins the album, “…we came in?”, with a continuation of the melody of the last song hinting at the cyclical nature of Waters’ theme.
|The Wall – Toronto on June 23 2012. Roger Waters.|
Tonight’s show was part of the second leg of The Wall in North America. This is the 9th time I have seen this show on this tour so far including the magic moment in rock history when David Gilmour stood on top of The Wall in London’s O2 back in May 2011. The recap (and video) of that night is here.
|Roger Waters The Wall in Toronto June 23 2012|
This show was one of the few in North America to be presented in a stadium setting which is much wider than an arena. As such The Wall was much longer than typical and Waters used that extra space for even more animations and in particular camera shots of the musicians at times. We had thought the arena shows were amazing, but seeing an even bigger Wall with even more people was incredible. Everyone on the floors stood the whole time and I can’t recall any other concert where everyone around me was having a rocking good time. This show was nearly identical to the first leg of the tour, with the exception of some new animations on the wall including closeup video footage of Waters on the wall for some songs. What was new for sure was Roger Waters playing acoustic guitar to a song right before Mother with a picture of a young man up on the oval screen above him. Waters greets Toronto and tells the crowd that the song was about “Jean-Charles de Menezes – a student engineer living in London, and he was shot to death by the British police who held him to the ground and fired 8 bullets in the back of his head for which there has been no recourse, nothings happened, no heads rolled, no guilt, no blame, no nothing… there is a message for us all, which is that, its a very slippery slope when we give our governments and our police too much power. That is all I have to say about that“.
|Roger Waters triumphs over Toronto on June 23 2012 for The Wall Live tour|
The basic premise of the concert version of The Wall is that an actual wall gets built during the first half and the second half begins with a full wall hiding the band. The show culminates with the wall being broken down at the finale. In between we get a Stuka plane flying over the audience and blowing up behind the wall, massive puppets of The Teacher, The Mother and The Wife, flag bearers, a hotel room scene, a simulated machine gun shooting of the audience, and of course a flying pig.
|The Wall crumbles for the finale of Roger Waters visit to Toronto on June 23, 2012|
The venue in Toronto (Rogers Center) is home of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and can hold about 50,000 people for the baseball games. Because of its massive dome shape the acoustics are not the best for concerts and we usually dread having to go see concerts there. Only the biggest acts play there (U2, Bruce Springsteen, Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, and Roger Waters) and if you are stuck up in the 500 levels (furthest away from the stage) you had better have good binoculars with you. Or a good telescope. This is truly the first time I have enjoyed a concert at this venue (we were sitting in the 19th row to the right of the stage) and that is because of the epic proportions of this extended Wall. Leave it to Roger Waters to take a non optimal concert venue and make it the best concert the Rogers Center has ever hosted. The enthusiasm in the audience was electric and this night will go down for many as the best concert experience of their lives.
Verdict: 5+ out of 5! The best concert of all time. Period. Roger Waters has come full circle. What started off in 1976 with him being a self confessed dark, miserable and f*ed up individual, who wrote The Wall because of his disgust at rock audiences and which eventually tore apart Pink Floyd culminates in his current 3 year swan song that has sold over 2 million tickets and establishes The Wall as one of the most impactful works of art the human race has ever created. I have seen this show 9 times so far and would easily see it 99 more times in my lifetime if I could.
Review and Photos by: Terry Makedon