Roger Waters at the Pepsi Center, 5/7/12

Categories: Last Night

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Jon Solomon
Roger Waters last night at the Pepsi Center.


ROGER WATERS @ PEPSI CENTER | 5.7.12

See Also:
(Review) Roger Waters at the Pepsi Center, 11/23/10
Roger Waters at the Pepsi Center slide show

"Thirty years ago, when I first wrote this album, I was rather famously not very good at being in rooms with people liking me a lot," Roger Waters said last night at the close of his epic performance of The Wall, wherein he used pyrotechnics, a high-def screen, dozens of projectors and blank white bricks that created a screen upon which a universe of pain, torment and beauty unfolded. "But I could not be happier right now than to be here with all of you." It's been a long journey since 1979 for Waters, and 2012 seems a potent time to be reviving this monstrosity for a tour.

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Eric Gruneisen
Roger Waters last night at the Pepsi Center.

A packed (and rapt) Pepsi Center audience watched the scenes unfold in front of it tonight, and although most of us know each chord of the album by heart, seeing it performed live is something else entirely. There were a few surprises and slight deviations from the album version -- this is live, after all -- but for the most part, the script played out exactly like the album, only writ larger than life on the giant stage with its wall neatly bisecting the Pepsi Center, chopping off a third of the venue.

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Eric Gruneisen
Roger Waters last night at the Pepsi Center.

Behind the two halves of the partially built wall hovered a giant circular screen, and as the house lights went down (and a voice warned would-be DIY photographers to turn the flash off their cameras lest they ruin the high-definition projections about to spool across the stage), dialogue from Spartacus blasted from the speakers while two soldiers held a faceless figure up as if to execute it. The release of the figure was punctuated with blazing fire shooting up from the stage and down from the rafters, smoke and gunshots opening up "In the Flesh?"

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Eric Gruneisen
Roger Waters last night at the Pepsi Center.

As this was happening, a plane flew into the Wall and knocked down a few blocks, and at one point, a helicopter hovered around the room before landing on the stage; the air vibrated with its power, and you could feel the wind from its propeller sweep your face and hair as the 'copter landed. Several audience members glanced upward almost involuntarily to try to spot the hovering machine. Photos of fallen soldiers (from World War II and Iraq), firefighters and civilians were projected on the bricks, and the rolling guitar line that opens "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1" heralded a scene of water projected on the wall and the screen, then the intent (often unhappy) faces of children surrounded by a halo of spotlights.

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Eric Gruneisen
Roger Waters last night at the Pepsi Center.

A giant alien puppet teacher descended from the ceiling, eyes glowing red, holding a wand as if conducting an orchestra, tentacle-like hair twisting from its head, ushering in the unmistakable opening chords of "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2." A choir of children wearing black shirts with the white lettering "Fear Builds Walls" stenciled on the front joined in on the second verse. Before starting "Mother," Waters addressed the crowd for the first time and explained that he wanted to sing a song to commemorate Jean Charles de Menezes, an engineering student shot and killed by London police for no reason in 2005. "And it's also to remind ourselves that if we start giving our police and our government more power, it's a very slippery slope."

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Eric Gruneisen
Roger Waters last night at the Pepsi Center.

"Mother" featured Rogers strumming softly on his guitar alone on stage while he played along with footage filmed in 1980 at the Earls Court Pink Floyd show; he noted he was going to play a duet with "that poor, miserable, fucked-up little Roger from so long ago." His younger self was projected in stark black and white behind the older (and wiser) Waters, and an authoritarian, Queen-like Mother figure loomed over the stage, head panning back and forth as if scanning the crowd. When Rogers sang "Mother should I trust the government," red words scrawled "No fucking way" across the wall. Cameras and the red, ominous lighting belied the soft guitar lines of the song.

"Goodbye Blue Sky" had a similar tone, with images of birds flying on the screens turning into images of airplanes that took off into the air, then dropped images on the ground below them: Crosses and sickles and dollar signs and crescents and stars and shells and golden arches, creating a sea of red spreading across the landscape. Complex psychedelic scenes unwound on the screen through "Empty Spaces," with fucking flowers growing fangs and attacking each other and cities springing from endless products, growing and consuming everything as a white wall streaks across the landscape.

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Eric Gruneisen
Roger Waters last night at the Pepsi Center.

Beautiful women in wholes and snippets (and various stages of undress) were the focus of "Young Lust," and gradually, we realized the wall was growing slowly but inexorably, and the images on the wall (which was expanding to cover the circular screen behind it) conflated to a giant pair of eyes that began crying blackish-green tears, sickly and overflowing. Through "One of My Turns" and "Don't Leave Me Now," more and more of the wall filled in until it filled up three-quarters of the stage, with small holes at the bottom revealing Waters and his band. Another giant alien-like puppet, similar to the teacher, stomped out on stage, undulating to the deep basslines the headliner coaxed from his instrument.

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Eric Gruneisen
Roger Waters last night at the Pepsi Center.

Fragmented, disjointed images flashed across the wall during "Another Brick in the Wall Part 3," including violent clips, colorful static, Martin Luther King Jr., brands and logos, a girl lifting her shirt, a snarling dog. Pieces of the wall began floating away into the darkness, leaving gaping holes and fragments of wall suspended in midair. Then the bricks started to speed back into the wall, each brick containing faces, and we realized during "Goodbye Cruel World" that the wall was never gone at all -- it was an illusion, and the holes revealing the musicians had almost been completely filled in, with only two bricks to show Waters, then one, then none -- and it was time for intermission.

Location Info

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Pepsi Center

1000 Chopper Circle, Denver, CO

Category: General

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6 comments
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Joe
Joe

I could also tell you have not seen the movie.  Also the term bisect means to cut in half, not a third.  Get your facts straight.

Cpt Coconut
Cpt Coconut

While this is a great review of last night, I have to wonder from comments made if the author has seen the movie.  This is incredibly written and very detailed and for someone who was there last night, I cannot help but agree that Roger is in fact a "fucking rock star" and the imagery was an assault on the senses that can not be done justice in a review.  I feel sad for those who can only image the vastness of the concert last night.  My only question is from comments made about an alien -similar teacher and a similar puppet during "One Of My Turns."  The giant puppets are in fact reincarnations from the movie as was the cartoon displayed on the wall for "The Trial."I would encourage you to see the movie or watch it again as it will most definitely enhance the experience.  Great review.  Keep writing!

Amber Taufen
Amber Taufen

I haven't seen the movie -- although I'm familiar enough with the imagery from it that I was aware from whence the puppetry came. I wanted to write the whole thing without referencing the film at all, though -- to make it comprehensible to people who are not familiar with the movie, and also because I felt like it was a slippery slope. I didn't want to have keep referencing the movie when I was trying to focus on the show! All that said, I'm going to check it out after your comment!

Bpsycle
Bpsycle

I was hoping for a tad more dubstep. Maybe I'll just remix the entire Wall album into a dubstep song called "The whompWALL"

Joey B
Joey B

Man, I can't imagine my youth without the film version....then again I'm Old.  :) 

Sjr
Sjr

Great detailed description of the Waters experience last night..I will never be able to forget it even if I really really tried to.  The night conveyed such alarm with individual freedoms being taken away--how can humanity be so scarry?  We better tune in and be prudent in giving power to others so they can control you.  The audio visual experience was life changing as was the message.

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