The Wall Tour (1980–1981)

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The Wall Tour
Tour by Pink Floyd
A poster advertising the February 1981 concerts at the Westfalenhallen in Dortmund, West Germany
Location
  • America
  • Europe
Associated albumThe Wall
Start date7 February 1980 (1980-02-07)
End date17 June 1981 (1981-06-17)
Legs5
No. of shows31
Pink Floyd concert chronology

The Wall Tour was a concert tour by the English progressive rock band Pink Floyd throughout 1980–1981 in support of their concept album The Wall.[1]

The tour was relatively small compared to previous tours for a major release, with only 31 shows performed across four venues. Concerts were only performed in England, the United States and Germany. The tour was notable for its extensive use of stage theatrics, most notably a giant wall constructed across the stage to convey the sense of alienation present in both the album, and Roger Waters' personal feelings at the time.[1]

This was the last tour of Pink Floyd with Roger Waters, before his departure in 1985. 17 June 1981 was the last concert of the tour, and the last concert with Waters (until 2 July 2005 at Live 8 24 years later).

Background[edit]

Head of the 'wife' puppet; displayed at the Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains exhibition.

"I was struck by the thought that there was a huge wall, that you couldn't see, between me and the audience," explained Roger Waters. "Then I drew it and started to talk to people about it. And they thought I was mad, because my original idea was to start building a wall at the beginning of the show and, when it's finished, they can't see you or hear you any more, and then the show is over."[2]

The tour's costs were estimated to have reached US$1.5 million even before the first performance (equivalent to US$4.7 million as of 2021). The New York Times stated in its 2 March 1980 edition: "The Wall show remains a milestone in rock history though and there's no point in denying it. Never again will one be able to accept the technical clumsiness, distorted sound and meagre visuals of most arena rock concerts as inevitable." It concluded, "The Wall show will be the touchstone against which all future rock spectacles must be measured."[3]

Nick Mason explained:[4]

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. 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. And, of course we had lots of semis, as I believe you call them, because of the special lighting pods that we used which needed, each one needs a trailer unit to hold it. And the special stage, because of the way the stage was actually used, there was a sort of structural bracing piece for the building of the wall. So it was all special equipment, I mean it was absurdly expensive. It's not something other people will do, generally, because it's just so expensive to put on, it's simply not feasible. But it was great to have done it once.

The concert was performed just 31 times in four cities: Los Angeles (7 shows), Uniondale (5), Dortmund (8) and London (11). The primary 'tour' consisted of 18 shows in L.A., Uniondale and London in 1980, but the band performed a further eight shows in Dortmund (13–20 February 1981) and five more shows at Earl's Court (13–17 June) for filming, with the intention of integrating the shows into the upcoming movie.

The London shows are documented on the album Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81.

David Gilmour and Mason attempted to convince Waters to expand the show for a more lucrative, large-scale stadium tour, but because of the nature of the material (one of the primary themes is the distance between an artist and his audience) Waters balked at this.

Discord in the band[edit]

On tour, relations between Gilmour, Mason, Waters and Richard Wright were at an all-time low: their four Winnebagos were parked in a circle with the doors facing away from the centre; an isolated Waters used his own vehicle to arrive at each venue and stayed in separate hotels from Gilmour, Mason and Wright. Despite having left the band upon completion of the album, Wright agreed to complete the tour as a salaried musician, and consequently ended up being the only member of the group who made any money from the venture.[5] "I did not just want to walk out on this great thing I'd been working on," he recalled. "I just decided I'd go out and play my best, possibly with the hope that, if it worked out, [Waters'] decision to have me out could have been reverted."[6]

Concert film[edit]

Mannequin dressed in one of Waters' costumes from the tour; displayed at the Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains exhibition

The idea to include live concert footage of any significant length for The Wall film was dropped shortly before the final shows took place.[1] There are conflicting statements regarding the professionally filmed footage. It had been widely believed that 'the wrong type of film' had been used and the results were dark and murky. Mark Fisher, partly responsible for designing the show said the footage was: 'very dark and horrible and boring and should be burned'.[7] Alan Parker himself said: '[the filming of the shows were] five blown opportunities'.[8] These rumours were partially scotched when the Channel 4 documentary 'Behind the Wall' (2000) used perfectly clear master videotape footage from the Earls Court 1980 concerts, as well as pristine film footage from the Earls Court 1981 concerts. 27 February, 6-7-8-9 August 1980 concerts were shot on videotape, while 13-14-15-16-17 June 1981 were shot on Eastman 125T film stock, using Panavision (anamorphic) Panaflex Gold cameras. These cameras can be seen in various photographs from the June 1981 leg. Attempts to brighten up the show for the film were successful, however the ISO for the filming was too low, thus Parker deeming the footage "a waste". David Gilmour has stated in an interview that only three tracks were captured on film:[9]

"About 20 minutes were shot – for example, "Hey You", where the camera was behind the wall focusing on us, then it went up and over the wall onto the audience. That's a great bit of footage. But only three tracks were filmed."

However, this is referring to the studio productions for the 1982 movie; shortly before the June 1981 leg ended, the band had come to the realization that they would need close-ups of the musicians on-stage. To solve this, they recreated the Earls Court concert stage in a studio for the sole purpose of shooting close-ups. They did several takes of "The Happiest Days of Our Lives"; "Another Brick in The Wall pt. 2"; "Mother"; and "Hey You". The reason that they chose to do the close-ups in a studio as opposed to the live shows is due to the fact that they didn't want the cameras on the stage to distract the audience. The close-ups presented in official teasers from 1981 are from the studio session.

In an interview with Chris Salewicz during the Radio KAOS tour in 1987, Waters claims that attempts to put it out were shut down, as it doesn't do the original concerts justice.

"There was an attempt made to put it on to video, and I have consistently stamped on any moves to get that video out because it does not do justice to what was a very theatrical event. Maybe in twenty years time, as sort of archive material, I might be prepared to release it. But I quite like the fact that the people who went to the shows copped it for what it meant to be, where it was meant to be, and nobody has been allowed to sell a third-rate, tacky version on video."

Roger Waters said on an episode of In the Studio with Redbeard which devoted two parts to the making of The Wall that "the London shows in 1980/81 were filmed and he had all of the footage and was thinking of putting it together to be released. However felt extremely reluctant to release the concerts on the video cassette format". He also would have to refer to the shows as a document of what went on.[citation needed]

In the December 2009 issue of Mojo, Roger Waters revealed that he had 'discovered a whole load of new footage of The Wall shows' and was busy 'editing it'. He explained that he assumed the cameramen decided to shoot more than they were asked to as they had the cameras and "nobody [seemed] bothered". Waters has stated that the film was shot on 70mm,[10] however this is false; it was shot on 35mm film and the negatives were printed as 70mm.

In Rolling Stone magazine, Waters expresses that the footage would "undoubtedly" be released to the public.

During Waters' tour of The Wall in 2010 footage of Waters performing his vocal parts in "Mother", labelled as being filmed in Earls Court in 1980, was projected onto the incomplete wall. The first verse comes from the studio session in 1981, and the second verse comes from 9 August 1980.

DVD of The Wall Immersion Box Set includes the professionally shot 35mm footage of "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" at Earls Court, 1981, with mixed footage from 13 to 17 June. The footage seen on the bootleg Divided We Fall by Harvested DVD is from 6–9 August 1980, while the audio is soundboard from 8 August in the first set, and 9 August in the second set.[11]

Personnel[edit]

  • David Gilmour – electric and acoustic guitars, vocals, mandolin on "Outside the Wall", musical director
  • Nick Mason – drums, percussion, acoustic guitar on "Outside the Wall"
  • Roger Waters – bass guitar, vocals, acoustic guitar on "Mother", clarinet on "Outside the Wall"
  • Richard Wright – piano, organ, synthesiser, accordion on "Outside The Wall"

with:

  • Andy Bown – bass guitar, acoustic guitar on "Outside the Wall"
  • Snowy White – guitars (1980 shows)
  • Andy Roberts – guitars (1981 shows)
  • Willie Wilson – drums, percussion
  • Clive Brooksdrums, percussion (Nick Mason's drum tech replaced Willie Wilson on 13–14 June 1981)
  • Peter Wood – keyboards, acoustic guitar on "Outside the Wall"
  • Joe Chemay — backing vocals
  • Stan Farber — backing vocals
  • Jim Haas — backing vocals
  • John Joyce — backing vocals
  • Gary Yudman — MC (New York and London)
  • Cynthia Fox — MC (Los Angeles)
  • Jim Ladd — MC (Los Angeles)
  • Ace Young — MC (Los Angeles)
  • Willi Thomczyk — MC (Dortmund)

Set list[edit]

The 1980/1981 set lists comprised the entire album, The Wall. The songs that did not make it onto the album, "What Shall We Do Now?", as well as an extra verse in "The Show Must Go On", and the then-untitled "The Last Few Bricks", were also played.

First set

  1. "In the Flesh?"
  2. "The Thin Ice"
  3. "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1"
  4. "The Happiest Days of Our Lives"
  5. "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2"
  6. "Mother"
  7. "Goodbye Blue Sky"
  8. "Empty Spaces"
  9. "What Shall We Do Now?"
  10. "Young Lust"
  11. "One of My Turns"
  12. "Don't Leave Me Now"
  13. "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 3"
  14. "The Last Few Bricks"
  15. "Goodbye Cruel World"

Second set

  1. "Hey You"
  2. "Is There Anybody Out There?"
  3. "Nobody Home"
  4. "Vera"
  5. "Bring the Boys Back Home"
  6. "Comfortably Numb"
  7. "The Show Must Go On"
  8. "In the Flesh"
  9. "Run Like Hell"
  10. "Waiting for the Worms"
  11. "Stop"
  12. "The Trial"
  13. "Outside the Wall"

Tour dates[edit]

Date City Country Venue Attendance
North America – Leg 1
7 February 1980 Los Angeles United States Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena 74,900 / 74,900 -- $1,106,000
8 February 1980
9 February 1980
10 February 1980
11 February 1980
12 February 1980
13 February 1980
North America – Leg 2
24 February 1980 Uniondale United States Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum 72,500
25 February 1980
26 February 1980
27 February 1980
28 February 1980
Europe – Leg 1
4 August 1980 London England Earls Court Exhibition Centre 120,000
5 August 1980
6 August 1980
7 August 1980
8 August 1980
9 August 1980
Europe – Leg 2
13 February 1981 Dortmund West Germany Westfalenhallen 132,000
14 February 1981
15 February 1981
16 February 1981
17 February 1981
18 February 1981
19 February 1981
20 February 1981
Europe – Leg 3
13 June 1981 London England Earls Court Exhibition Centre 100,000
14 June 1981
15 June 1981
16 June 1981
17 June 1981

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c J.C. Maçek III (5 September 2012). "The Cinematic Experience of Roger Waters' 'The Wall Live'". PopMatters.
  2. ^ Turner, Steve: "Roger Waters: The Wall in Berlin"; Radio Times, 25 May 1990; reprinted in Classic Rock #148, August 2010, p78
  3. ^ Rockwell, John (2 March 1980). "Pink Floyd's Great 'Wall'". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Kendall, Charlie (1984). "Shades of Pink – The Definitive Pink Floyd Profile". The Source Radio Show. Archived from the original on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  5. ^ Blake 2008, pp. 285–286
  6. ^ Ewing, Jerry (March 2000). "Wish I was there". Classic Rock #12. p. 4.
  7. ^ "Interview with Mark Fisher". pinkfloyd-co.com. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  8. ^ "The Wall tours". pinkfloydonline.com. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  9. ^ Record Collector, March 2000
  10. ^ "Roger Waters interview 1999". YouTube.
  11. ^ "Pink Floyd – The Wall 2012 Immersion box set". brain-damage.co.uk. 20 January 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2012.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]