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The Wall is a lavish, four-sided dredge job on the angst of the successful rocker, his flirtations with suicide and losing bouts with self-pity, his assorted betrayals by parents, teachers and wives and his uneasy relationship with his audience, which is alternately exhorted, cajoled and mocked. None of the dynamic exaltation of the Who and their fans for the Pinkies. To Waters, the audience is just another barrier, another obstacle to his exquisitely indelicate communion with his inner being. "So ya/ Thought ya/ Might like to go to the show," he sneers at some hapless fan.
Is something eluding you
... If you 'd like to find out what's
behind these cold eyes
You'll just have to claw your way
Sunshine might just as well try tunneling out of Sing Sing with a soup spoon. Every avenue of Waters' psyche ends up against a wall, a towering edifice whose bricks have been mixed from the clay of emotional trauma, vocational frustration and, apparently, brain damage. Absent fathers, smothering mothers, sadistic schoolmasters, insistent fans and faithless spouses: "All in all you were all just bricks in the wall."
Urging caution on "the thin ice of modern life," Waters' lyrical ankles do a lot of wobbling before he is indicted, some 75 minutes into the record, on charges of fecklessness, savagery and numbness. The presiding magistrate, a worm, sentences the singer to "be exposed before/ Your peers/ Tear down the wall." Lysergic Sturm und Drang like this has a direct kind of kindergarten appeal, especially if it is orchestrated like a cross between a Broadway overture and a band concert on the starship Enterprise. It is likely, indeed, that The Wall is succeeding more for the sonic sauna of its melodies than the depth of its lyrics. It is a record being attended to rather than absorbed, listened to rather than heard.
And watched. The Pinkies on-stage are as carefully rehearsed as the Rockettes. Says Saxman Dick Parry, who has backed them up, "They've got everything down exactly. Onstage with Floyd there's no spontaneity at all. They've got little pieces of tape everywhere, and if you stand in the wrong place they go crazy." The Pinkies' new stage show is an extravagantly literal representation of the album, including a smoking bomber with an 18-ft. wingspan that buzzes the audience on a guy wire and huge floats representing the song's major characters, among them a 30-ft. mom who inflates to appropriately daunting proportions with the throw of a toggle switch. There is also, of course, a wall, soaring 30 ft. above the stage, spanning 210 ft. at the top. At the start of the show, roadiesrechristened "wallies" for the occasionstart stacking 340 cardboard bricks until, at intermission, the wall stands completed. During the second half, a few strategic ruptures appear through which Waters and his fellow PinkiesKeyboard Player Rick Wright, Drummer Nick Mason and Guitarist Dave Gilmourcan be glimpsed doing their stuff.