Pink Floyd’s The Wall: The Original Live Show & Behind-the-Scenes Footage of the 1980 Tour and 1982 Film

Open­ing with max­i­mum fan­fare and pomp, and clos­ing with the sound of dive bombers, “In the Flesh?,” the first track on Pink Floyd’s mag­num opus The Wall announces that the two-disc con­cept album will be big, bom­bas­tic, and impor­tant. All that it is, but it’s also somber, groovy, even some­times del­i­cate, har­ness­ing the band’s full range of strengths—David Gilmour’s min­i­mal­ist funk rhythms and soar­ing, com­plex blues leads, Nick Mason’s tim­pani-like drum fills and thump­ing dis­co beats, and Richard Wright’s moody key­board sound­scapes. Under it all, the propul­sive throb of Roger Waters’ bass—and pre­sid­ing over it his jad­ed, nos­tal­gic vision of per­son­al and social alien­ation.

Expert­ly blend­ing per­son­al nar­ra­tive with tren­chant, if at times not par­tic­u­lar­ly sub­tle, social cri­tique, Waters’ rock opera—and it is, pri­mar­i­ly, his—debuted just over 35 years ago on Novem­ber 30, 1979. The project grew out of a col­lec­tion of demos Waters wrote and record­ed on his own. He pre­sent­ed the almost-ful­ly formed album (minus the few col­lab­o­ra­tions with Gilmour like “Com­fort­ably Numb”) to the band and pro­duc­er Bob Ezrin, who described it as “Roger’s own project and not a group effort.” That may be so in its com­po­si­tion, but the final record­ing is a glo­ri­ous group effort indeed, show­cas­ing each member’s par­tic­u­lar musi­cal per­son­al­i­ty, as well as those of a host of guest musi­cians. The leg­endary stage show drew togeth­er an even larg­er pool of tal­ent, such as polit­i­cal car­toon­ist Ger­ald Scarfe, whose ani­ma­tions were pro­ject­ed on a giant card­board wall that slow­ly came down over the course of the con­cert.

At the top of the page, see the band play the entire­ty of the album at Earl’s Court in Lon­don, and just above, watch a “lost” doc­u­men­tary com­piled from behind-the-scenes footage of that show, the last of thir­ty the band per­formed on The Wall tour, which began in Los Ange­les. We get inter­views with the band and crew, Waters at sound check, and “the fre­net­ic oper­a­tion of the entire load-in process.” Archi­tect Mark Fish­er describes the plan­ning and cre­ation of the stage show—a year in the making—from the wall itself to the huge inflat­able char­ac­ters made from Scarfe’s ani­ma­tions. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing look at the very first show of its kind, a huge mul­ti­me­dia extrav­a­gan­za that blew audi­ences away and raised the bar for every are­na rock tour that fol­lowed.

The film ver­sion of The Wall, which debuted almost three years lat­er in 1982, was also decid­ed­ly a col­lab­o­ra­tive affair. Just above, a doc­u­men­tary called “The Oth­er Side of The Wall” intro­duces us to “four very dif­fer­ent tal­ents”: Waters, Scarfe, direc­tor Alan Park­er, and star Bob Geld­of. (Album pro­duc­er Ezrin doesn’t get a men­tion, though he claims to have writ­ten the film’s script.) Giv­ing us a look at “how the final brick in The Wall fell into place,” the short film begins with Waters’ inspi­ra­tion for the con­cept album; he tells us in his own words how it grew from his frus­tra­tions with the sta­di­um tour­ing for Ani­mals. Park­er dis­cuss­es his artis­tic inten­tion to not make “a con­cept movie” (though the movie seems to be exact­ly that), and Scarfe talks about his designs for the album and film, which Park­er describes as “weird” and “psy­cho­path­ic.”

The final piece of behind-the-scenes mak­ing of The Wall we bring you is the BBC Radio inter­view, above, that Waters’ gave in 1979. He talks about the album’s gen­e­sis, and breaks down the mean­ing of each song at length. Waters’ rela­tion­ship with The Wall defined the rest of his career after he left Pink Floyd in 1986. In fact, since 2010, he’s been tour­ing his ver­sion of the stage show, and has pro­duced a doc­u­men­tary of its revival. But long before the cur­rent incar­na­tion of the endur­ing­ly clas­sic album and live spec­ta­cle, he brought a revival of The Wall to Berlin in 1990 to com­mem­o­rate the fall of that city’s lit­er­al wall eight months ear­li­er. See the full con­cert video of that show below. Fea­tur­ing an array of guest musi­cians, the show approx­i­mates the musi­cal inten­si­ty of the orig­i­nal 1980 tour—but noth­ing, of course, can sub­sti­tute for the incred­i­ble ener­gy of the orig­i­nal four mem­bers of the band play­ing togeth­er. The vision may have been all Waters, but the exe­cu­tion of The Wall need­ed Pink Floyd for its suc­cess.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Roger Waters’ Ear­ly, Work-in-Progress Record­ings of Pink Floyd’s The Wall

Watch Doc­u­men­taries on the Mak­ing of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here

Watch the Rare Reunions of Pink Floyd: Con­certs from 2005, 2010 & 2011

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.