The 30th Anniversary return of Roger Waters' audio-visual opus was bittersweet. Even as Pink Floyd fans packed the sold-out opening night in Boston on Thursday (Sept. 30), it seemed like the walls that isolated us back in 1980 are still present today. However, the scope of the two and-a-half-hour production's concept and execution left little room for bitterness or self-pity.
The first of three dates at Boston's TD Garden opened with Waters bathed in red light, taking a long military overcoat from the back of a stark black mannequin. A flutter of hammer-crested flags processions across the immense scaffold that would come to support a wall of megalithic proportions. It was not until explosions erupted in floor-to-ceiling pyrotechnics that fans realized just what they were in for.
Sparing no further moment for theatrics, Waters lead with heart-wrenching imagery on "The Thin Ice." A montage of photographs of loved ones lost in conflicts of the distant past and the inescapable present, images were accompanied by short bios submitted by fans prior to the tour.
"Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" followed, bringing onstage teens from ABCD Boston to accompany Waters on its iconic chorus. As much a Broadway production as a rock concert, the show boasted 30-foot hovering marionettes of characters including the schoolmaster from the original film and a truck sized inflatable pig that floated ominously over the ramparts and into the crowd.
As the symbolic wall grew, it came to serve as a canvas, projecting vivid representations- many adaptations of Gerald Scarfe's original animations from the 1982 film - to accompany the music.
"Mother," a standout of the night, illustrated that Waters, even at 67, is still a commanding vocalist. Inviting participation, the line, "Mother should I trust the government?" incited the crowd; no doubt encouraged by the blood-red scrawled words "No F*cking Way."
"Goodbye Blue Sky" brought on row upon row of black silhouetted bombers raining down symbols from the religious to the anti-capitalistic. Blood-red crosses, Stars of David, dollar signs, Shell and Mercedes emblems fell in heaps on the projected ground. As the first set built in intensity the alabaster bricks fell stealthily into place until the vast wall, tall as a building, obscured all but a window to the twelve-piece band.
In the second set, "Nobody Home" dialed back the bombast for an intimate moment. One brick removed revealed Waters perched at the the window of a motel room, a lone shaft of light piercing through the dark facade.
"Comfortably Numb" is always a crowd favorite, but it played out as slightly distracting this time because what is normally David Gilmour's solo was split between the three guitarists, though overall it was beautifully executed.
The show ended with the destruction of the wall. It was a night of mixed emotion, a production brought to life in celebration of the multi-, multi- platinum double album. It made for one hell of a show.
Here Is The Sept. 30 Setlist:
(Outside the Wall)
In the Flesh
The Thin Ice
Another Brick in the Wall Part 1
The Happiest Days of Our Lives
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2
Goodbye Blue Sky
(What Shall We Do Now?)
One of My Turns
Don't Leave Me Now
Another Brick in the Wall Part 3
(Last Few Bricks)
Goodbye Cruel World
Is There Anybody Out There?
Bring the Boys Back Home
The Show Must Go On
In The Flesh 2
Run Like Hell
Waiting for the Worms
Outside The Wall