Review: Roger Waters concert in Auckland

Roger Waters – Vector Arena – Auckland – 20th February 2012
Reviewed by Matt Wishart

Now I know this isn’t about motorbikes, but it is too damn good to not write about so here I go.

It’s 7pm and a large crowd takes over most of the outside area, they are all waiting for one thing, Roger Waters. There is a huge variety of people walking around, from young to old, hippies and business men to people in wheelchairs and walking frames. The atmosphere is electric and you can see the excitement in everybody’s faces.

People are lined up at the food stalls, trying to fit in the last hot dog before the show and inside people are buying t-shirts and overpriced alcohol. There was a problem with our seats so we were upgraded to near-best seats and we had a great unobstructed view of the stage.

Along the stage are large white bricks, stacked up close to the ceiling and humongous rows of speakers adorn the beams across the ceiling. Between the background music you can hear the anticipation building in the crowd and when the announcement comes through the speakers that the concert is about to start, the crowd gets even louder and with the appearance of the actors it gets even louder still.

Men dressed in a dark military uniform drag a lifeless puppet across the stage and the show begins, more actors spread across the stage with flags held high with the hammer symbol emblazoned in the middle of each flag. Narrative describes a trial and afterwards the puppet is thrown to the ground and Roger steps out from the darkness and gets into a long leather coat and dark glasses and walks along the stage.

As the music begins, fire works shoot up from the stage and light up the arena as the punchy tunes from “In the Flesh” blast into our eager ears. The crowd is apoleptic at this point and a chill runs down my spine as my childhood dreams come true.

Later in the set, giant puppets drop down with glowing eyes and take part in the song which just adds to the authenticity of the set. This is where Roger’s creative brilliance really comes to play, with a set including close to 20 projectors, pyrotechnics, fireworks, dancing puppets and a gigantic wall of cardboard bricks adorn the stage.

It reminds you of the movie “The Wall” with it’s somewhat disturbing character drawings and animations and it truly lives up to it’s reputation.

The Wall is played in it’s entirety and the band plays it impeccably well with Roger at the age of 68 still able to belt out all of the tunes with a chilling accuracy. Snowy White is also on the stage as well as John Carin; both of whom have played with Roger and David many times before.

Throughout the set, workers set up bricks across the stage until the whole stage is blocked by a gigantic, white, brick wall and the music carries on. At this point I was a little sceptical as to whether the rest of the set would be played behind this behemoth of a wall and for a few songs it was.

Intermission came and the crowd flocked through the doors to refresh their drinks and food supply and around 20 minutes later the set begins again.

Roger steps out onto the stage in front of the wall and begins singing again, with the marvellous graphics behind him, it added a fantastic element to his performance, he appears again on a portion of a wall that fold out, with furniture bolted down onto the platform, the sullen notes of “Nobody’s Home” ring throughout the arena.

Comfortably Numb begins not long after and the crowd goes wild, along with myself and Roger begins to sing. The bridge and Chorus are sung by a name I have now forgotten standing atop the wall with a spotlight shone directly upon him. Both solo’s are played by another guitarist on the other side of the wall and he executes them perfectly with not a note or bend out of place, and the crowd is silent listening intensely to the sound of the lead guitar gracefully echoing through the room.

Soon enough, the panels in the floor raise up and gear and band rise from the depths to play the rest of the set, which brings delight as I was looking forward to seeing the band in action. After the set the floor lowers once more and near the end of the last song shouting “Bring down the wall!” The wall falls to the ground, lying in a pile of bricks at the base of the stage. This was completely unexpected as the wall actually looked very solid and as it began to move the fans sitting in the front rows must have began to panic as it began to break apart with a brutal jolt.

As the band came up on stage to play one last tune the fans cannot contain themselves and the roar is deafening. Roger begins to thank the crowd and tell us what a pleasure it has been and that when he first did this concert 30 odd years ago he never felt like playing to a crowd and he never enjoyed it, now things have changed and he has enjoyed himself immensely.

As he farewells us the twang of banjos ring on and come to a finale as the lights shine down and all that you can see is a sea of smiling and amazed faces.

This concert was one to remember and it was performed brilliantly and left us with a memory that will be told for years to come, all we need now is for David Gilmour to come and play a show and that shall be the icing on the cake.

Matt Wishart