Roger Waters, the bassist, vocalist, and chief sonic architect behind Pink Floyd’s seminal 1979 masterpiece, The Wall, spent years visualizing and planning how to properly perform the album in its entirety on the live stage during his modern-day solo career, with special care given to its live quad sound design. The resulting Wall Live tour spanned 3 years starting in 2010, played to more than 4 million people worldwide, and pulled in over $458 million, the highest grossing tour of any solo performer to date. (That’s one comfortable sum.)
If you missed the tour or want to see it again, you’re in luck, as Roger Waters The Wall will be premiering in theaters across the globe on September 29. Shot in 4K and mixed in Dolby Atmos, this Wall stands at the pinnacle of aural and visual excellence.
I saw The Wall live twice – once indoors at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey in November 2010, and once in Yankee Stadium in July 2011. Without question, it was the most visually exciting and sonically pleasing large-scale arena/stadium show I’ve ever witnessed. Sound quality is always tricky in a stadium setting, but the live quad design utilized for The Wall experience delivered in every respect, from the — spoiler alert! — thunderous onstage plane crash that starts the show to guitarist Dave Kilminster’s elegiac, cleansing guitar solo atop the massive 500-foot-long Wall itself during “Comfortably Numb.”
“The technology, the software, and the programs that [production manager/sound engineer] Trip Khalaf and [PA system engineer] Bob Weibel used is all about delays. That’s the way you get clarity,” Waters told me as we sat down in the Sony Club atop New York City last week.
One sequence he’s particularly proud of in the film, sonically speaking, comes during “Run Like Hell,” near the end of the show. “Robbie [Wyckoff] would be singing, ‘You better run,’ and I’d say, ‘That eighth-note triplet – repeat on it,’” Waters recounts. “So it would go, ‘run, run, run, run, run,’ and we would organize the delay in the chorus. We worked in great detail on that. And then we would record it, just to make it easier to deal with, so that you don’t have to do those sums and make those moves every night. That is, we know Robbie sings the word ‘run’ the same way every night and he is singing that live, but the delay would already be organized and programmed to go [snaps fingers] – ‘run, run, run run…’”
Read more of my interview with Roger at Digital Trends.
Exclusive to HRAC is the following: When I asked Roger about how good his 1984 solo album The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking would be in a surround-sound mix done by James Guthrie — the man who helmed the amazing, recently released 5.1 mix of Waters’ 1992 solo marvel, Amused to Death, on Blu-ray — he quoted a line from the Pros song “4:37 AM (Arabs With Knives and West German Skies)”: “’There are Arabs with knives at the foot of your bed.’ (chuckles) Yeah. That’s got moments in it that are perfect for 5.1.” Hmm, I don’t see any Cons in seeing that idea come to 5.1 fruition…