This isn’t a gig review. Chronicling it as a musical extravaganza doesn’t do it justice either.
Watching Roger Waters perform The Wall at Manchester Arena last night was an experience the like of which I’ve never felt before in over three decades of attending live concerts.
It’s an emotional avalanche, an assault on the conscience as much as mind and body.
Inspiring, evocative, awesome, spectacular, poignant, breathtaking, spellbinding, provocative, moving, stunning.
You don’t have to agree with Waters’ politics to identify with the themes of isolation and innocent casualties of war.
You don’t even have to be a die-hard fan of Pink Floyd to have left the two hour 25 minute performance convinced you’ve never seen nor are likely to see a show quite as memorable again.
The Wall isn’t the most consistent showcase of Floyd’s music.
While Comfortably Numb is widely regarded as their finest piece of work and Another Brick In The Wall their best-selling single, the album peaks too early and slides into Gilbert And Sullivan territory as the story of Pink reaches its chaotic conclusion.
Comfortably Numb, even without David Gilmour playing arguably classic rock’s most loved guitar solo perched high on the finished wall, remains the highlight of an evening brimming with highlights.
But though it’s the third song after the intermission, such is the theatrical feast on stage, there’s no sense of anti-climax.
“It’s a long way to go to watch a wall being build and then demolished,” joked my wife when I first told her I’d be heading to Manchester 33 years after missing out on Earls Court tickets.
Well, here’s a confession. For 20 minutes or so, I barely noticed the wall being build brick by brick, testimony to the visual deluge in front of me.
State-of-the-art animation, fireworks, giant Gerald Scarfe puppets including a remote controlled giant pig and even a replica Spitfire which burst into flames, provided gripping ripostes to those who dismiss this show as a brick-building exercise set to music.
And then there is Waters himself, looking as lithe, fit and sprightly at 70 as when he first took The Wall onto the road 33 years ago.
More cheerful and relaxed too, it seems. During Mother, PF’s self-styled creative genius duetted with a 50ft high video of himself – a more angst-ridden figure back then – from one of those Earls Court gigs.
Waters has developed into a first rate showman and a willing frontman – ironic considering Pink Floyd were a band who even at their peak could walk down the street without fear of mass recognition.
He’s also a preacher. Dedicating the show to Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian killed by police in the wake of the 7/7 attacks, there were harsh words for Tony Blair and the night was thick with political symbols.
At one point, a plane projected onto the giant wall dropped hundreds of Stars of David, Crucifixes, hammer and sickles and even the corporate logos of Shell and Mercedes-Benz.
“Is there anyone he’s NOT against?” asked my companion in jest.
Well, his audience for starters. Tickets may have cost £75 upwards but rarely can I recall enjoying such value for money from a night’s entertainment.