Prog rock fans rejoice as Pink Floyd's erstwhile leader builds The Wall in Dublin
It’s a good time to be an Irish prog rock fan. Yes played Belfast and Dublin in 2009, Supertramp were over last year, and Canadian legends Rush made their first ever visit earlier this month.
Now erstwhile Pink Floyd leader Roger Waters is back on these shores for the third time in nine years, with The Wall Live – a state-of-the-art, £37million tour of Floyd’s 1979 masterpiece, the first time it has been performed live in its entirety since Waters’ historic Berlin Wall show in 1990.
The singer, songwriter and bass guitarist - who penned the majority of the dark concept album - may not be a household name, but Pink Floyd certainly are, and Dublin’s O2 is bunged.
CultureNorthernIreland takes its seat stage right, within spitting distance of the 35-foot-high, 240-foot-wide wall that is filled in, brick by brick, throughout the first half of the concert. (You’d hate to be a roadie on this tour.)
Now 67, the famously irascible Waters seems to have mellowed out somewhat and takes to the stage like a man who finally knows what side his bread is buttered on.
He has settled into the role of frontman (aside from a spectacularly lame anecdote about Floyd’s 1967 Irish tour), and his bass runs remain fluid and exciting, putting paid to rumours of miming and backing tracks.
The Wall is a tale of alienation and isolation, though you wouldn’t know it from Waters’ exuberant antics tonight.
With guitarist, vocalist and rights-to-the-name-holder David Gilmour content to noodle with solo projects, this is as close as anyone is likely to get to seeing Pink Floyd live – and what a sight it is.
Opening number ‘In the Flesh?’ features a blast of pyrotechnics that is in danger of singeing the eyebrows of fans 50 rows back, while the giant, inflatable pig that appears towards the end of the show has the whole crowd transfixed. The subtext seems to be, ‘Beat that, Gilmour.’
The double album is played in its entirety, from the moody ‘The Thin Ice’ and ‘Mother’ to the Gilmour co-writes ‘Comfortably Numb’ and ‘Run Like Hell’. The guitar solo to the former, played by seasoned Waters sideman Dave Kilminster atop the now-complete wall, is simply sublime. And, of course, we get ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part 2’ – the closest Pink Floyd came to the pop mainstream.
In the O2 tonight there are teenagers, young couples, rock chicks, guys in well-worn metal t-shirts and ageing hippies who could probably regale you for hours about having seen Floyd with Syd Barrett. They lap up the agitprop video projections and anti-war sentiments, hanging on Waters’ every snarled lyric.
Yet as stunning as The Wall Live is, you can’t help but yearn to hear some of the other Floyd gems. After all, The Wall is just one classic work in a 14-album, 30-year career. But with amicability between the ex-members at an all-time high, perhaps there’s still a chance Waters, Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason will regroup for one final tour…