All week the radio stations hyped the event. Last night it happened: Roger Waters and his crew staged a magnificent performance of THE WALL.
The music was as powerful as when first released in 1979. Live performances of the full-blown rock opera have been infrequent, thus making the Frankfurt gig a rare gem in the year’s schedule of big name appearances.
The special effects – light, sound and visuals – were stunning. The droning airplanes and thwacking helicopters, the crashing bombs and the flak artillery, were not only loud. You felt them shake the arena; your internal organs vibrated along. They even flew a real airplane through the air to explode into the stage.
With all this sound and fury, it must be noted that this is an anti-war message par excellance. Waters protests against the wanton destruction of individual human beings and their worlds with anger and irony. One bit of graffiti on the wall: “If at first you don’t succeed, call an airstrike.” Waters takes to task every element of our society responsible for causing war: the three big religions, political ideologies and big business. Symbols of these forces fall as payloads from bombers, causing death and destruction as they hit the ground.
Behind the anti-war message lies Waters’ own private demons: the death of his father who he never knew in WWII, abuse by bullying teachers at school, an over-protective mother and his divorce.
This statement on the wall, however, conveyed Roger Waters’ entire message to me in three words: FEAR BUILDS WALLS. I couldn’t help but think of my own small-scale, non-explosive creative efforts. In THE PEACE BRIDGE Hannah Zimmer fights to bring down the wall of silence that her family has built around the past. Fear built that wall, too. Like Hannah and Waters’ protagonist, Pink, we each have demons that haunt us and make us fear what we are walling in. Or walling out.
Were you there last night? If so, what did you think?
BTW: The performance deserves better photos! Sorry I couldn’t deliver.