Roger Waters Brings The Wall To Philly And I Decided Not To Go

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Right now, I am listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall for the first time in its entirety since probably about 15 years. The reason? Well, unlike some of the tens of thousands of folks who are actually seeing the second of two Roger Waters “Wall” shows tonight here in Philly (the third and final show is Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center) I intentionally chose to hold close the memories I have of the “real” Wall concerts I saw back in February of 1980 at the Nassau Coliseum and decided not to go.

Many of my friends were kind of stunned when they asked me if I was going to any of the shows here and I said no. I could have very easily taken the position that “The Wall just isn’t The Wall without Pink Floyd’s guitarist David Gilmour” (okay, I will just a little). I could have justified going because after all, the story and the lyrics were all Waters’ and the album remains one of the great classic rock masterpieces. I wasn’t thinking at any point when the shows were announced that I would take the position of The Wall’s opening line: “So ya thought ya might like to go to the show/To feel the warm thrill of confusion, that space cadet glow.” I wanted to just relish in the space cadet glow of my memories of seeing the show back in the day.

I did see two of the five performances of The Wall at the Nassau Coliseum in February 1980 and remember it being one of the first real stadium spectacles I saw in terms of the set and theatrical reach of the show. At the time it was one of the most ambitious rock shows I’d ever experienced and the shows remain sealed in my memory as two of the best rock shows I’ve seen.

So yes, even as some of my colleagues came in to work this morning raving about the fully digitally realized show last night, I really didn’t feel like I missed much. I preferred to let my memories of those shows 30 years ago carry me through this moment. And now, as I am about to flip the record to side three (starting with “Hey You”) I’m holding tight to the “warm thrill of confusion” and “space cadet glow” of those two nights long ago remembering almost every second of those shows. This little journey through the past – I’m enjoying it.

If you didn’t go to the shows here in Philly, there’s some videos that you can check out here. And for a little reminder, here are videos of some The Wall’s most classic songs.

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  • Matt C

    Bruce, are you worried that seeing a new version of the show would sully your memory of the 1980 version?

    It’s a bit like skipping the new “Karate Kid” movie (or, hell, even “Tron”) because you love the original too much. Seeing the new version shouldn’t affect your love of the old, right? I understand the seduction of nostalgia, but it almost seems defensive to use that as a reason to skip the show (the lack of Gilmour is a much more compelling reason). If you’re still a fan of the original album, why not check out how an older, maybe even wiser Roger Waters, with lots of new toys at his disposal, reinterprets it THIS time? If anything, the new version might deepen your love of the 1980 concert, which only exists as a memory anyway.

    Full disclosure: I didn’t see it either, but I do sing with a group that does a theatrical concert version of “The Wall” from time to time. So I may be a bit biased.

  • Floyd

    I was at the original show 30 years ago in LA and it was the besr ever. I am also going to the show Thursday evening in Philly. The show will be a great way to reinforce some excellent memories.

  • Bill in Boston

    Bruce,

    I to skipped his show in Boston in October. I could never top leading a couple of carloads of “space cadets” from Philly to the old Buffalo Road House in Greenwich Village for some suds and then onto Nassau and back to Philly for the 1980 show. 1972-1980 Floyd shows were a one in a lifetime experience, especially Wish You Were Here at the Spectrum. I saw Waters do Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety a few years back sans Gilmour and it was pretty impressive. Still, much like the Dead without Jerry, Floyd without Gilmour lacks that full effect. If ever a band represented the sum of its parts going all the way back to Syd Barrett, this is the one.

    • Bruce Warren

      Totally agree with you Bill on the Dead analogy. Haven’t seen them since Garcia kicked it. And yes, without Gilmour I say no way.

      • pink

        then i am sorry to tell you you missed out. The wall Is Rogers masterpiece. He sounded amazing and the show was unreal. As far as I am concerned Roger Waters IS Pink Floyd and saying seeing The Wall without Gilmour is like seeing The Dead without Jerry is just stupid! Would it have been great if Gilmour showed up…of course! But without, the show was still totally amazing. I would really kick myself had I missed this!

  • Floyd Fan

    I did see the Monday night show in Philly and I have to say awesome….I did not see the 80 shows but when I have a quit moment without the kids, I sit myself down with a six of my favorite beer kick up the surround sound and put in The Wall DVD. As for the message from then to now I look at it as if the child has grown up and is now a 67 year old adult. I am sure that most of us agree that not having the remaining members of the band on stage is a let down but times are different and people move on. It’s all about the artist now. The words and music that came out of this band has amazed me. However, this is Rodger Walter’s masterpiece. It’s obvious the rest of the band was along for the ride. This wasn’t just a concert it was an event.
    Floyd fan

  • Chas1962

    I saw the Nassau show in ’80 as a 18 year old and went Tues( on my 48th birthday). I needed to see if the unbelievable feeling that I got 30 years could somehow be recaptured. I sat 1st level opposite side in 80, 3rd row on the floor center Tuesday. I was as numbed, inspired and blown away this time as I was then. To deny yourself based on a memory just doesn’t seem logical to me, sorry. The Wall has transformed in 30 years from a dark, injured mans story to a metaphor for more global issues, a sublime transition by a rock genius, Roger Waters, His respect for the audience in 2nd to none-if I could go every night, I would. Sure, we all wish Gilmour was there, but Roger surrounds himself with the best musicians in the world. And the sound was incredible. For me, these 2 nights are on an even parallel…all in all!

  • Jade0626

    I did not see the Wall in 1980 and have never seen Floyd in concert but I am a big Floyd fan and have all of their albums. I actually had the preconceived notion that it just wouldn’t be that good without Gilmour and hedged on going. About 4 or 5 days after the concert went on sale in Philly, I gave in and bought tickets. I can only say that I would have kicked myself if I didn’t. The show was an awesome sight and sound display. I don’t think any concert will ever come close to this and I have seen many concerts in my lifetime starting in the late 60′s seeing the Doors.

  • Dlk

    The concert was awesome but the crowd left much to be desired.  See comments at http://www.angryoldfolks.com