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Roger Waters The Wall Live - BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise - June 15

Roger Waters - The Wall

Bank Atlantic Center, Sunrise

Friday, June 15, 2012

Better than: Watching a Pink Floyd tribute band.

For the full slideshow, click here. 

Few concerts nowadays have a rhetorical agenda or offer a commentary on

the way we live. Even when Roger Waters first wrote 99 percent of The Wall

for his former band Pink Floyd in 1978, he was not thinking social

commentary. On the landmark double album and in subsequent live shows, he

bitched about fame, whined about mommy issues, and hated on stadium

concert audiences. His idea to build a wall on stage came from a

misanthropic desire to separate the band from its audience.

Waters' acrimonious split with the rest of Pink Floyd in the early eighties,

involving lawyers, money, and rights to perform material, has become

legendary. He kept the rights to The Wall. Only in recent years has he brought the stage show to life in a tour that has barely stopped roaming since 2010. This time, however, he re-framed The Wall with visuals that imply a lashing out against authority and war.

Friday night's performance of The Wall by 68-year-old Waters revealed a much more mature and even happy artist. The show opened with the bombastic "In the Flesh?" with explosions on stage and red banners over the band featuring red and black crossed hammers. The dozen or so musicians on stage were dressed in black with red armbands with the same hammer logo. Waters then popped out dressed in black, pumping both his fists to the music. He wore a long black, leather jacket and dark sunglasses, making him look like a member of the Gestapo. 

He offered reassuring smiles between his cartoonish frown and sang, "If you wanna find out what's behind these cold eyes/You'll just have to claw your way through this disguise" before he yelling, "Drop it, drop it on 'em! Drop it on them!!" and the roar of a plane filled the stadium before the sound of gunfire and bombs. Out of the rafters, a prop plane hurtled toward the top corner of the partially built "wall" on stage left, it crashed in a ball of flames -- the heat from which was felt all the way out on the floor.

It was a grand start to an evening featuring a massively coordinated production. Massive white bricks gradually found their places onstage around the band by scurrying stagehands. Meanwhile, the expanse of the wall featured projected images illuminating text and lyrics along with photos of war, and animation made famous by The Wall's early production and its subsequent film. There were also puppets that looked to be three stories tall with eyes that lit up -- probably the most famous of which is the teacher who dances around at the side of the stage during "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2." Some local school kids joined the band on stage to sing the famed chorus "We don't need no education/We don't need no thought control" and wagged their fingers at the giant teacher.
After "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" seemed to end, Waters reprised the song on just his acoustic guitar with new lyrics. He dedicated it to one Jean Charles de Menezes and explained of the man that he was unarmed and shot in the head seven times by London police in a tube station, back in 2005. He ran from them after they profiled him as someone "suspicious." This came just two weeks after the London train bombings on July 11, 2005, which killed 52.

Of course, the new version of The Wall, has grown to imply something far beyond rebelling against a school teacher. The song "Mother" featured an animated surveillance camera over the band and the not so subtle graffiti, "BIG MBROTHER IS WATCHING YOU," projected on part of the wall. It got a bit heavy, but, thankfully, there were big cups of beer to drink, some weed to smoke, and the constant use of cell phones to record the memories.

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias:
I first heard The Wall at the age of 12. It gave me nightmares.

Overheard in the crowd: "Wooo!! Yeah!"

Follow Hans Morgenstern on Twitter @indieethos

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Hans Morgenstern has contributed to Miami New Times for too many decades, but he's grown to love Miami's arts and culture scene because of it. He is the chair of the Florida Film Critics Circle, and most of his film criticism can be found on Independent Ethos ( if not in New Times.

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