Setlist History: Roger Waters Takes The Wall On Tour

Roger Waters took The Wall on tour for the first time on September 15, 2010.

The co-founder of Pink Floyd and lyricist of the moody 1979 rock opera had previously taken the group's other enormous album, 1972's The Dark Side of the Moon, around the world from 2006-2008.

The success of that seven-leg 119-show tour gave the bassist confidence that a much more ambitious staging of The Wall was possible.

Floyd had attempted to present the fascinating and powerful album to a live audience in the early '80s but retreated due to numerous circumstances including logistics.

"The problem, really, with the show is that it wasn't a touring show, so it had to be set up, and left, and taken down again," Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason explained. "There were a lot of light operators and stage operators and wall builders. Because of the amount of stuff that went up and down, floated across, did this, did that, there were a lot of operators, rather than just people putting stuff up."

Tickets to the original Wall Tour cost just $15. Also of note, the ticket says the Sports Arena is on the corner of Figueroa and Santa Barbara Ave. Not only is the arena gone, now replaced with an outdoor soccer stadium, but in 1983 the city changed the name of the street to Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.

The original Wall Tour was performed 31 times in just four cities from '80-'81: two in the US and two in the UK.

As you can see from this footage from Earl's Court in 1980, the music was there but the staging, although unlike most concerts at the time, was still not there.

In 1985, the bickering between Waters and guitarist David Gilmour was enough and Waters quit the band. Gilmour and others kept the name Pink Floyd. Waters sued and lost. But he was not prohibited from playing the music he helped create.

A lot can improve over three decades and the technology, sound, and production techniques availed Waters the opportunity to see his vision for The Wall Live to be realized and he went for it in 2010, kicking off in New Jersey.

On September 12 the entire ensemble did a full dress rehearsal at the Izod Center in East Rutherford. Satisfied, they took the show north to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, home of the fabled Maple Leafs hockey franchise for their first official concert on Sept. 15.

Why a hockey arena and not a giant stadium? The album had sold 30 million copies. Surely getting butts in seats wouldn't be an issue.

Waters wanted the tour to be in arenas, not football stadiums as he felt distant from the audience much like the autobiographical central character in the show. Why write about an enormous symbolic and literal wall if you're going to be an entire football field away from your audience?

"The reason I designed this show all those years ago was because I had been somewhat disaffected by doing gigs in football stadiums in front of large numbers of people who I felt were not really engaged in the same thing I was engaged in." he said. "I built this show to express the feelings of alienation I had from the audience."

The other benefit of a smaller show to a mere 20,000 people is all would be able to see the graphics, animation, and puppets that were integral to the experience.

Each night Waters and his full band, including background singers, performed the entire album in under two hours.

Many called it the greatest concert they'd ever seen.

"It's almost impossible not to be impressed with this show purely as a sensory experience: the animations look incredible and the sound effects whirl around the huge auditorium," The Guardian UK wrote in 2011. "More surprising is how Waters, always the most uncomfortable of rock stars, has flourished into a performer.

"Pyrotechnics were used throughout the show, as were massive marionette puppets, representative of several of the opera's supporting characters. The technological aspect of this show was astounding," raved The Hofstra Chronicle. "Musically, the show was just as phenomenal. Waters brought an impressive touring band with him, including lead guitarist Dave Kilminster, who was just spectacular. The solo he delivered during 'Comfortably Numb' was absolutely mind-blowing. Waters, himself, proved that rock ‘n roll has no age limit. At 67 years old, the rock icon played a flawless show, hitting notes that he was hitting 30 years ago."

The Wall Live Tour rolled on for three years. It grossed over $450 million and Pink Floyd fans were finally able to see one of the greatest albums ever performed in its entirety at the highest level.

But perhaps the greatest success happened in 2011 in London when Gilmour and Mason joined Waters on stage to perform "Comfortably Numb" at the O2 Arena.

It was just the second time the trio had played together in 30 years.

So far it has turned out to be their last.

Waters is now approaching 80 years old but he's not slowing down. He is remaking Dark Side of the Moon, an album that holds the record for staying on the charts longer than any other.

This week he began answering questions on his Twitter account.

And next month he will hit the road playing reworked songs from Dark Side Redux. Tickets are available on his website.

Never shy of controversy, many have asked should Waters mess with perfection. As far as some are concerned, including yours truly, if you write The Wall, and then travel with it around the world, giving such a beautiful experience to so many, then when you turn 80 you can do whatever the heck you want.

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