|Photo | Scott Weiner
|Roger Waters performs at the Wells Fargo Center Nov. 8.
If epic paranoia over monster themes such as megalomania, mother fixation, loneliness, television, the warring industrial complex and the uselessness of fans
and celebrity, accompanied by the sounds of unsettling bombast, is what you seek as entertainment, there's a bridge I can sell you. Or rather, a wall The Wall
, Roger Waters
' semi-autobiographical 1979 magnum opus that he's brought to Philadelphia for three nights at the Wells Fargo Center
starting last night. Hurry up. Though tickets sold out quickly when the shows were first posted last spring, additional seats have been added for tonight (Nov. 9) and Thursday (Nov. 11).
Where arena rock is concerned, Pink Floyd
Waters' own until 1983 when he left the band wrote the book on it, what with scenic tours for Animals
and the original Wall
But 30 years after its original road show-envisioning and technology has turned The Wall
from a manic puppet show (Gerald Scharfe
's "mother" and "teacher" are still a big part of the new Wall
) with big rickety bricks into a mega-watt beyond-Broadway production one rife with Cirque-du-helicopter light effects, stunningly fluid projections and rapid fire sloganeering, a slowly erecting/engulfing 36-foot-wall that could be stood atop ("Comfortably Numb"
proved best for that job and co-lead vocalist Robbie Wyckoff
), ruminatively stared through ("Goodbye Cruel World"
) and used for pop-up tableaux and generally dwarfing the gangly 67-year-old Waters. Waters, in turn, made the wall itself into a character weary with the futility of warring factions through the doo-wop-ing "Another Brick In The Wall (Part 1)."
As hundreds of photos of deceased veterans appeared on its bricks representing the loss we all have, Waters' own emotional distress of having lost his father in World War II comes through like a primal scream. The majestic "Bring the Boys Home"
makes the bricks into a waling wall as Waters' creaking voice pleads for connection to those lost.
Connection is the name of Waters' game throughout as he stresses, in his highest hard pitch voice, a yearning to get through to his sole remaining parent. Only this time Waters' primarily acoustic "Mother"
is accompanied by Waters doing a live double-track duet with footage of himself, black-and-white yet, filmed during a 1980 Earls Court
show. "Poor, miserable little Roger," he calls the on-screen visage as the live Waters winces in pain.
It's hard to believe that such dissection of personal mythology has been made once and again into rabid anthems like the anti-authoritarian "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2,"
performed here with a dancing choir of children wearing shirts that read "Fear Builds Walls."
Or that spare tracks of disillusionment ("One of My Turns"
) and spite ("In the Flesh?"
) would warrant fireworks and rousing fans. But such is the force of personality behind Waters' forlorn tale that the positive aspects of The Wall
to say nothing of the epic potency of its melodies have made themselves clear. Leonard Cohen
once sang (on "Anthem"
) these lines:
"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in."
I'm guessing Waters finally found the crack in The Wall