Roger Waters recently performed
The Wall at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. The event was both a performance of a magnificent rock album and an amazing stage show. The concepts behind the original album and show are even more relevant today. Despite the story being rather bleak, the revamped show is very uplifting.
The basis for the show is Pink Floyd's 1979 album "The Wall" and the movie release the following year. I first heard the album when I was 15 and it remains my favourite Pink Floyd album.
Roger Waters was a founding member and bass guitarist for the band. He later split from Pink Floyd after bitter disputes that began with the intense production of this album. The album was written primarily by Waters and is partly based on his childhood. It is about a fictional rock star named Pink who is troubled by his chaotic lifestyle. Each problem becomes a brick in a wall Pink builds distancing himself from others.
Walls in society
People with disabilities sometimes build walls around themselves. Past experiences and negative feelings leave us feeling isolated from society. As a result, like Pink, we may be unable to connect with society in a meaningful way.
People are susceptible to distancing themselves because of social problems. Fortunately, there are more support networks people can access today such as Lifeline, clinical psychologists and community support groups. It seems the stigmas attached to asking for help are eroding. Walls are less likely to be built and more able to be knocked down.
Elaborate stage show
The Wall was an incredible triumph. The music was excellent and the theatrical stage show astounding. The show included pyrotechnics, props such as huge inflatable figures from animations in the movie, and smart use of lighting and colour.
Then of course there was the wall, which stretched from one side of the arena to the other and was about 40 feet high. At the beginning the wall covered only areas at the side of the stage. While looking authentic, its bricks were mainly a light material put together without the audience noticing. By intermission the wall was completed.
The wall was used to project images relating to every song. These ranged from animations and TV footage to political rhetoric and images of despair. A dirty grey wall became concrete pillars and colourful effects.
The show was spectacular. It was true to the original story yet modernised to represent societal problems resonating across the world. It represented problems such as corporate greed, materialism, fundamentalism, unchecked government control, war and poverty. The show nonetheless left its audience with a feeling of optimism by discrediting political propaganda and the eventual collapse of the physical wall.
The fall of the walls we build between ourselves and society seem possible. I was left with the feeling that I had seen something special, from which I had taken away better insights.