Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Monday, June 11
Security was extra high Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for Roger Waters' updated rendition of his classic album The Wall. Waters' paranoia has long been known, but the security presence was still a bit alarming.
Maybe that was the point.
The story of 'The Wall' -- a burnt-out, reclusive rock star with mommy issues and a penchant for megalomania -- also doubles as an anti-war screed. It's the latter that Waters is highlighting with this production.
Real photos of war dead -- both soldiers and civilians -- were repeatedly displayed on the wall, sent to Waters at his request. He dedicated an acoustic reprise of "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" to Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian man shot dead by London police after he was mistaken for a fugitive responsible for a bombing attempt. No one's ever been brought to justice for the shooting, an example, in Waters' view, of a slippery slope towards tyranny. Indeed, when he asked in the song "Mother" if he should trust the government, the answer was splayed across the wall in red: "No fucking way."
It's doubtful Waters has ever been accused of not speaking his mind, and at 68 he's definitely not concerned about holding back now. As with the movie version of The Wall, during the song "Goodbye Blue Sky" war planes drop bombs in the shape of crosses, the Star of David and various corporate logos among others. A Dwight D. Eisenhower speech is displayed during "Bring the Boys Back Home."
Waters took special glee playing a fascist during "Run Like Hell," as different words mocking the lowercase iPod structure were shown, as well as actual airstrike footage from the Iraq War. It wasn't all dark though. Video of children being reunited with their military parents ran during "Vera."
The visuals make the music in this multimedia extravaganza almost secondary. The wall, which was completely built by the end of the first set, served as a massive backdrop for saturated colors, live footage and dystopian imagery. Characters from the movie were here as giant puppets that descended from the stage.
A very gaunt Waters got help vocally from Robbie Wyckoff, who sings David Gilmour's parts. Waters is showing his age, but he demonstrated remarkable stamina during the two-hour show, saving some of his heaviest lifting for the end.
It's always a good sign when unrealistic expectations are still surpassed. The only downside to a Pink Floyd-affiliated concert is that it ruins all the others you'll ever see.