The Rogers Centre
June 23 2012
On September 15 2010 Roger Waters began a three show run at Toronto's Air Canada Centre to officially launch the re-staging of The Wall . The original Wall tour by Pink Floyd only played thirty one shows in a mere four cities due to the costs involved with moving the enormous production. Thirty years of advances in technology later and the reborn Wall tour has played over 190 concert in twenty-nine countries, including a momentous show in London on May 12 2011 where Dave Gilmour joined the band to recreate his legendary guitar solo during "Comfortably Numb".
For the final stretch of shows Waters returned to Toronto for a stadium airing of his classic piece on alienation this time at the massive Rogers Centre, the name of which the notoriously sombre front man actually joked about.
Aside from everything being, well, bigger the structure of the show remained the same. Opening song "In The Flesh?" stills ends with a series of lightning fast explosions and a replica Stuka plane dramatically flying directly into the wall, bursting into flames upon impact. And "Goodbye Cruel World" still ends the first 55 minute set with a final brick slotted into place to finish the construction of the mountainous wall itself.
Now not only is the wall used as a huge screen with vibrant, newly updated images projected onto it, the far sides show close-ups of the musicians performing.
The impressive moment during "Comfortably Numb" when Waters pounds his fists against the wall until the projected images of grey bricks shatters into a technicolour explosion was even more striking on the expanded surface.
Considering that the set list is simply the classic 1979 Pink Floyd album The Wall from beginning to end, it's surprising that a new song has been added to the proceedings. At the end of "Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)" a gentle acoustic number "The Ballad Of Jean Charles de Menezes" has been added. The brief song is a tribute to a young man shot in 2005 seven times in the head by London police because they thought he was a terrorist.
A new effect that was simultaneously gripping and terrifying was during "In The Flesh" in the second set when Waters fully in character, angrily fired an imitation machine gun right at the front rows of audience members.
The original Wall album and tour dealt primarily with the main character's feelings of alienation from society with an anti-war subtext. For the 2010-2012 tour the political aspect has been increased with many of the images projected unashamedly addressing Water's pacifist anti-government views making for a very thought provoking night.
While there's something odd about witnessing Waters' artistic expression of isolation with a crowd of over 38,000 people, what's undeniable is that The Wall Live is one of the most thrilling and satisfying concert experiences of all time.
Robert Lawson 2012