The Wall: spectacular as ever but showing its age

Pink Floyd star Roger Waters leads visual circus at Aviva Stadium

Roger Waters on stage at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Roger Waters on stage at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Thu, Sep 19, 2013, 01:00

Roger Waters couldn’t have picked a more appropriate day to bring his dystopian vision of modern life to Dublin. As Waters staged his gargantuan production of Pink Floyd’s The Wall in the Aviva Stadium, protestors outside the Dáil were being pepper-sprayed by gardaí, as the Government returned to risky business as usual.

“Mother, should we trust the Government?” asked Waters during “Mother”. “No f***ing way,” came the words on the giant screen. The Wall deals with themes of injustice and exploitation of ordinary people, so perhaps, by coming to this show, fans were showing their solidarity with those good folk gathered on Kildare Street.

A local children’s choir echoed the anti-authority sentiment when they made a guest appearance during Another Brick in The Wall.

It’s an ambitious undertaking for Waters — bringing The Wall back to Dublin barely two years after staging it at the O2 arena. He’s ramped it up for a stadium setting since then, and he blew the crowd away at Wembley last weekend, but there’s a niggling feeling of deceased equine flagellation – as spectacular and iconic as the show is, he may soon hit a brick wall with it.

But though the Aviva Stadium is clearly not stuffed, there’s a decent enough attendance for what may well be the last outing for the inflatable pig, the giant, red-eyed teacher and the still-disturbing Gerald Scarfe graphics.

Waters was also lucky with the weather – with a full moon peeking behind clouds, the night was perfect for the sturm und drang of Pink Floyd’s darkest album. The titular wall – half-built — stretched impressively across the width of the Aviva Stadium, while Waters and the band delivered a pristine-sounding rendition of classic Floyd tracks such as The Happiest Days of Our Lives, Goodbye Blue Sky, Young Lust, Hey You and Run Like Hell and Comfortably Numb.

Mindblowing visuals played on the wall as, brick by brick, the monolithic structure went up until all you could see was the head and shoulders of Waters, peeking through the last empty rectangle. Then the final brick went up, and it was intermission time.

The album’s anti-war message came through loud and clear during the show’s second half, as Bring the Boys Back Home hammered home the message that soldiers sent out to conflict were leaving families behind.

The album’s other theme – alienation and disconnectedness – was perfectly encapsulated in one of the show’s biggest anthems, Comfortably Numb. If Enda Kenny and his cabinet are feeling uncomfortably numb after their first day back in the Dáil, perhaps they should have come down to see this show – they might have learnt a strong lesson about the human cost of bad decision-making.

Throughout the show, Waters, now 70 but still well able to lead this visual circus, played the part of the dictator with obvious glee. He may be hanging up his despot’s helmet soon, but it’s definitely worth surrendering yourself to his musical megalomania one more time.