Photo and Story by Scott Smith
Former Pink Floyd singer-bassist Roger Waters thumped pulsating bass lines, sang in that familiar madman howl and even fired noisy machine-gun blanks at fans May 5th in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Bringing the 2012 leg of his “The Wall: Live” tour to a crowded BOK Center, Waters performed the 1979 Floyd opus in its entirety, from front to back, while black-clad crew members erected a mammoth wall between audience and Waters’ top-shelf band. It was a scene fiercely similar to Floyd’s 1980 and 1981 concerts — videos and graphics were projected onto the wall, a menacing, red-eyed pig floated over the multi-generational audience, and Waters took on the role of the story’s fictitious, emotionally vulnerable rock star for the loud-yet-crystal-clear proceedings.
A note-perfect take of concert-opener “In the Flesh” was followed by a large model airplane racing over the heads of concert-goers. The plane struck the wall and burst into a yellow-orange sphere of flames and smoke, which drew cheers, claps and clenched fists in the air.
Waters was in excellent voice throughout the concert, and on many numbers, he played his black Fender bass, aggressively picking out low-end notes while playfully grimacing for those attending. When the anti-establishment staple “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” emerged, numerous school-aged children ran onto the stage to clap, sing and step in time with a beaming Waters.
On paper, “The Wall” live might seem like an awkward venture without surviving Pink Floyd members David Gilmour and Nick Mason — co-founder Syd Barrett died in 2006 and keyboardist Richard Wright died of cancer in 2008. But “The Wall,” minus portions of “Comfortably Numb” and “Young Lust,” was pretty much Water’s baby from its demo beginnings back in 1978. Waters’ solo-band guitarist, Dave Kilminster, recreated a stunning version of Gilmour’s notoriously brilliant guitar solo on “Comfortably Numb” at the BOK, standing atop the wall and in off-white spotlights.
Kilminster’s slow-burn solo started melodic before becoming almost like a high-note scream for help, summoning one of numerous standing ovations throughout the show. Waters/Pink Floyd touring mate Jon Carin, who once sat in with The Who at the Concert for New York City following the 2001 terrorist attacks, served up great keyboard parts, while Snowy White and former “Saturday Night Live” band leader G.E. Smith pulled emotional solos and riffing from their guitars.
Only the big-screen flashes of pre-recorded female nudity during the otherwise brilliant “Young Lust” seemed a bit much, yet Waters made up for it by staging one of the greatest rock spectacles one could ever hope to see and hear. The world will never see Waters, Gilmour, Mason and the now-gone Wright appear together on a stage like their one-off, still-talked-about reunion at 2005’s Live 8, but Waters’ “The Wall Live” is a wonderful consolation prize for both the casual rock admirer and the fanatic of all things Pink Floyd.