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Friday, June 21, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Writing on The Wall

Roger Waters, a founding member of the legendary rock band Pink Floyd, took audience members on a journey through rock and roll history and back.

Friday night's show at HSBC arena was nothing short of spectacular. The concert went from what started as a pyrotechnically enhanced rock show to an epic rock opera in a matter of minutes.

His solo rendition of Pink Floyd's epic masterpiece The Wall lived up to its name and surpassed expectations.

Even at 67 years old, Waters hasn't lost a step. His voice sounds almost exactly as it did when Pink Floyd recorded the album in 1979.

The performance began with a 4th-of-July-sized fireworks display as Waters sang the album's first song, "In the Flesh?" A partially built wall of giant white cardboard blocks surrounded the stage. In between the void in the wall stood the band, arranged in a straight line. They seemed to signify the completion of the wall with their presence.

"Good evening, Buffalo!" Waters said to greet the crowd, his voice resonating throughout the arena as the audience roared. Everyone seemed proud that this city had been chosen to be a part of the music that had meant so much to so many people.

After the crowd settled, Waters transitioned into one of the album's featured singles, "Mother." He performed the song in front of a film clip of himself performing the song during The Wall's inaugural tour in 1980.

Friday night's version was almost exactly reminiscent of Waters 30 years ago. It is uncanny how he has held on to his true prowess as a performer.

The music was evenly matched with impressive stage effects. Waters' show made use of giant inflatable figures – one was a teacher portrayed as a green monster, while another depicted a black tusked boar, its body reading messages conveyed by the album's deep lyrics. These were augmented by extensive light and fireworks displays, which showcased Waters' rare gift of truly engaging a crowd.

The showmanship did not stop there. Projections of Gerald Scarfe's surreal artwork on the gigantic wall showed the true essence of everything that is Pink Floyd.

"I thought the show was visually stunning," said Eli Jacobson, 23, of Williamsville. "[Waters] has still got it. The best part about it was how relevant The Wall is to what is going on in the world today. The show did a great job of connecting the past to the present."

The strong anti-war sentiment that The Wall conveys helps it to sustain that relevance today. Pictures of fallen soldiers from wars past and present were strewn across the wall as a tribute to those who have lost their lives in battle. Soon after, a Dwight D. Eisenhower quote was displayed:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

After the show's brief intermission, a loud voice rang out, singing "Hey You," and the crowd reacted with much applause. Waters had the crowd singing along to the hit single as if they were his backup vocalists. The entire arena seemed to finish the last line of the song with Waters, loudly shouting, "Together we stand, divided we fall."

Though the show was excellent, the inclusion of David Gilmour would have made it even better. Gilmour co-wrote various hits on The Wall such as "Comfortably Numb" and "Run Like Hell." Although he was not an original founding member of the band, David Gilmour became an instrumental part of its success.

Even without Gilmour, Waters orchestrated a near-perfect performance of "Comfortably Numb," which capped off the night and drew the crowd in with its beautiful arrangement and masterful guitar solo.

Roger Waters truly seemed to feed off of the crowd's energy during what felt more like a Broadway performance than a rock concert.




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