One of his turns

by James Belfield / 31 December, 2015
Revisiting a classic gets personal for a former Pink Floyder.
LS0216_57_SUP_Roger-Waters-The-Wall-Film-2015Roger Waters’ retreading of The Wall is bombastic, politically astute and occasionally touching.

It was always abundantly clear the original 1979 double album was as much autobiographical as it was a paranoid prog-rock rant against war and state control, but the ex-Pink Floyder takes his personal involvement a step further by interspersing footage from his 2010-13 tour with his own journey to war cemeteries and the battlefields where his father and grandfather died.

Musically, there’s little to commend this recent performance over the original, the 1982 Bob Geldof-starring film or the more celebratory 1990 The Wall – Live in Berlin, which played against a backdrop of the tearing down of a physical and metaphorical wall between East and West.

The addition of a new song, The Ballad of Jean Charles de Menezes, is not a musical highlight, but points to the subtle change in emphasis from The Wall’s anti-control message to a pro-people, pro-peace message. (Menezes – a Brazilian student – was shot on the London Underground in 2005 after police mistook him for a terrorist.)

But the sheer spectacle of the DVD and Blu-ray release is unforgettable. The tour footage shows the incredible stage set, which involved building and demolishing a wall dividing musicians from the audience every night, and the incredible crowd reaction to the stunning second-half run of Vera, Bring the Boys Back Home and the majestic Comfortably Numb.

The combination of original Gerald Scarfe-inspired stage puppets and animations with more recent imagery from post 9/11 warfare and the addition of photos and details of victims of terror, such as Menezes, is a thrilling and emotional ride.

Yes, Waters is grizzled and curmudgeonly, but his tears are real, the occasional surreal scene on the battlefields of Italy and France is cleverly constructed, the stage show is ultra-grand and his message powerful.

ROGER WATERS THE WALL, Roger Waters (Universal/Sony) •••

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