Roger Waters

SPECTACLE: Roger Waters in action in Brisbane. Pic: Marc Robertson Source: The Courier-Mail

Roger Waters

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC: Waters was the heart and soul of Pink Floyd. Pic: Marc Robertson Source: The Courier-Mail

Roger Waters, The Wall Live Tour, Brisbane Entertainment Centre, February 1-2, 4

WHEN rock music as an album art form blossomed in the ’60s, there was a test that the listener could apply.

Did this music have anything to say? Dylan, Lennon and McCartney, Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix and many others, they had plenty to say.

Roger Waters and Pink Floyd were right there at the centre of it too, and with their classic albums in the ’70s they had much to get off their chests, about madness, mortality and our propensity to blow each other to bits in wars.

Waters poured all of that into the concept album The Wall, an album fuelled by dissatisfaction with touring to vast audiences as a rock star. Thirty-three years on, Waters’s attitude to that has mellowed, and it turns out The Wall is a moveable feast.

While Waters and band play the original album in its entirety, with this production it becomes more about the futility of war and the ever-threatening shadow of Big Brother than it is about rock star paranoia.

That’s a subject very close to the 68-year-old Waters, who lost his father in World War Two, and the show begins with a projection that reminds us of that.

So there is serious intent everywhere but The Wall Live production is also grand theatre and non-stop entertainment as well, what with the crashing aeroplane, giant puppets, the flying pig hovering above the audience, scenes with jack-booted stormtroopers and the construction and destruction of a wall that’s 70m wide and 10m high.

By the end of the first half of the night, the band is hidden completely behind that wall, which becomes the screen for a series of jaw-dropping graphic productions, always reminding the audience of the human cost of military action.

Pink Floyd always were about taking the listener on a trip, musical and emotional, and that’s what Waters does with this show, as well as giving everyone a laugh on the way with the sheer scale of the production.

The surround-sound reproduction was about as high fidelity as it’s possible to get in an entertainment centre, the playing from the band was top-notch and Waters in his later years is finally is getting the joy from being a live performer that eluded him all those years ago.

The Wall was never one of my favourite Floyd albums. But in this setting, with the power of the band, the virtuosity and energy of the production, and the wall tumbling down as a finale, it makes for an unforgettable night.

And yes, it still has something to say.