Roger Waters: The Wall

Another flick of The Wall

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You’re reading Prog, so let’s go ahead and take a wild punt and assume you know the basics about The Wall.

The 2010-13 world tour was the highest grossing by any solo artist ever (it cost a few bob to stage, mind). This film, which got a “one night only” global cinema release in September, mixes footage of those spectacular shows with scenes of Roger Waters on a kind of travelogue through history, visiting the burial/memorial sites of his grandfather and father, both lost in the wars. The Wall is now less about a narcissistic rock star and more about the insanity of military conflict. On DVD, Blu-ray and download, it’s both an epic concert and a subjective protest movie. The articulate Waters, seeking and finding emotional catharsis, seems less off-puttingly chilly than usual. The two-disc Special Edition emits the most warmth, with over 90 minutes of literally “on the road” out-takes, along with a booklet, art cards and poster. Most significantly, it includes the superb 2011 performances of Comfortably Numb and Outside The Wall from London’s O2 Arena, where David Gilmour and Nick Mason joined their old bandmate/friend/foe. People burst into tears on the night, and even on film the power of the moment comes through in great crashing waves. The soapy angle shouldn’t overshadow the main event though. While we all sometimes feel we’re over-familiar with The Wall, it’s still such a strange, striking, ambitious beast. Waters’ co-director Sean Evans deserves great credit here – there are images here which linger in the mind long after the visceral impact and dramatic sonics of the concert have settled. Political and personal themes which may seem hackneyed are given new muscle and blood. If there’s a quibble, it’s that you don’t have the option of watching just the concert, but otherwise this is essential for anyone with even the mildest interest in Floydology. Still, Waters runs deep.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.