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.