By Adrian Drew
Quite simply, The Wall was the best fifth anniversary gift Vector Arena could have given us. From the start I was blown away, quite literally, when Roger Waters appeared to "I'm Spartacus, I'm Spartacus, no, I'm Spartacus", booming over the arena sound system as we were rocked from our seats with an almighty bang. Then the heavy, dark, brooding notes rang out through the final show's sell out crowd. "So ya thought ya, might like to go the show", it's the very familiar Waters' husky voice as he takes us on a tour of heightened emotion, visual wizardry and musical genius of one of rock's most iconic albums.
An audience may eagerly await to offer their vocal support encouraging teachers to 'leave us kids alone', but it was what I didn't expect that made this a top five concert for me. A giant teacher puppet bared down on a selection of Auckland youths and a large inflated pig, tagged in slogans, flew around the arena as an enormous white brick wall began to dominate the entire stage. Waters had dug out some archive footage of "a much younger” and "messed up” Roger playing 'Mother' from an old London recording session and then proceeded to accompany a five-story-high projection of himself, plucking at all our acoustic heart strings.
Piece by piece, it was rock by block; the noise nearly overwhelming, with a wave of attacks from machine guns to fighter planes. The wall began to loom over us, only peep holes were left to peer through to Waters and the band. The visuals were intensifying, as modern day animation was expertly intertwined with Floyd's original artwork from the movie. Keeping all the negative-society symbolism, but adding a new-world message, slogans, brands and faces of war and oppression were splashed before our eyes until the first record came to an end with the enigmatic front man disappearing behind the last brick in the wall as he waved 'goodbye cruel world'.
The intermission came and went, with an already supercharged crowd now fizzing like a mountain of Mentos in a lake of soda pop. With the monstrous wall now covering the entire stage, it was time to really get creative. A portion of brickwork opened up like an old record playing, revealing a mock low-lit lounge with a laid back Waters sitting at a piano. This is the first time I have seen a middle aged rock icon openly share vocal duties with other performers and actually spotlight them. He didn't pretend to sing notes he couldn't hit or play arrangements that could restrict the ultimate experience. Deciding instead to orchestrate, even dominate, the show from the front.
If I was trying to find something not to like about The Wall, I could maybe complain about the Vector Arena sound. It still sounds too muddy, reminding me of iPod speakers turned up too loud, blowing raspberries back at me. Other than that. I’ve got nothing. This was well worth the price and puts all other gigs to shame. It was meticulously planned from sound to spectacle, wow to how? And from whoa to go.
Was Roger Waters' 'The Wall' a Rock Opera, Movie, Concert or Art Exhibition? Nope... it was all that and more.
Adrian Drew is Assistant Programme Director at RadioLIVE.