Behind the Wall
Baltimore Arena - Baltimore, MD
August 20, 1999
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 1999, Volume 6, #9
Written by Mike Davis
Roger Waters, the ex-wordsmith and driving force for the unstoppable Pink Floyd machine, spent much of the 1970s erecting a lyrical and literal wall between himself and his crazed legion of fans. While his growing sense of isolation and subsequent separation from his audience led him to pen one of the biggest albums of all time, it also led to the breakup of one history’s most popular bands. Now on his own and free of the stadium tours that sparked his festering cancer of disillusionment and self-isolation, Waters is playing smaller venues and reaching out to his fans in an attempt to tear down this wall one brick at a time.
Over the course his three-hour concert at the Baltimore Arena on August 20, Waters treated the congregation to familiar and moving renditions of both Pink Floyd songs and solo material, spanning a quarter of a century of music history. Long-time fans will recognize visuals and effects from past tours. However, rather than appearing old and dated, Waters gave both the songs and effects new life. From Dark Side of the Moon to Amused to Death, Waters played his tunes with the excitement and enthusiasm of an artist just arriving on the scene.
Long-known for taking his music and lyrics seriously — almost to a fault — Waters now sprinkles his performance with humor and spontaneity. Rather than forcing his audience to sit idly as mere spectators, Waters reached out to his fans, inviting them to join him in celebrating the past while seeming to revel in their presence.
Waters remains an artist of mythical proportions — a god among men in the realm of classic rock. Yet time has mellowed the visionary lyricist, chipping away the jagged edges of cynicism and derision. Leaving behind the legal battles, Waters has turned to the stage to set his place in history, and this tour proves, once and for all, that while his absence may not have spelled the death of Pink Floyd, his presence most certainly gave it life.
Twenty-odd years ago, a star-crossed Roger Waters spit on a crazed fan who tried to breach the barrier he had erected between his band and the audience. Today, Waters is reaching out and personally giving his audience a glimpse of what’s been behind the wall all along.
Mike Davis has been a journalist in the Washington, D.C.
area for nearly six years. In addition to covering the local music scene,
Mike currently writes a daily education column covering federal regulation,
legislation and policy for a D.C.-based publishing company.
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Copyright © 1999 The Music Box