Roger Waters The Wall Blu-ray Review

Roger Waters’ new concert film is an audiovisual tour de force that will please Pink Floyd fans everywhere

Roger Waters The Wall is a monumental new concert staging of the legendary musician’s most personal effort, the groundbreaking concept album he created with Pink Floyd in 1979. The primary songwriter behind several classic mega albums released by Pink Floyd in the 1970s, The Wall represented the last album performed by the band’s classic line-up: legendary guitarist David Gilmour, bassist/lyricist Roger Waters, keyboardist Richard Wright and drummer Nick Mason before Wright left the band to pursue a solo career. Many consider it one of the greatest Rock albums ever recorded and is currently the third best-selling album of all time in the United States.

The Wall was Waters’ baby from the beginning and he conceptualized it as an intensely personal polemic on war and alienation. He always envisioned it as an elaborate concert with a huge audio-visual component, incorporating light shows and animation into the experience. This concert film captures one such show from Waters’ 2010-2013 The Wall Tour in all its stupendous sound and glory. The state-of-the-art light and sound extravaganza is interwoven with a highly personal, intimate road trip that Roger takes with family and close friends. If you are expecting a straight concert without anything else tossed in, look elsewhere.

Filled with striking, rich imagery, the concert film is unlike any other I have ever seen. The Rock opera is largely based around Waters’ father that died in World War II when the singer was a young boy. Co-directors Sean Evans and Roger Waters layer the concert with quiet, somber bridging scenes showcasing Waters visiting very important places to his life, including his grandfather’s grave marker. It is a surprisingly touching moment when he stands there with his own children.

You would think the personal moments wouldn’t work placed in the middle of this musical narrative but they provide context for Waters’ strong anti-war beliefs manifested in his music. The short bridging scenes also help to give the viewer a little break between the huge, bombastic musical numbers. Waters does let his political views occasionally seep into the experience, as when he delivers a brief diatribe about “state terror.”

This concert uses state-of-the-art technology to put on an amazing array of images and moving animations…

Bathed in an eerie red light for much of the concert, the performers play as an actual wall is built up around them until only Roger is left alone on the stage. It will be familiar to anyone that has seen a concert staging of The Wall before but the audio-visual effects are spectacular. This concert uses state-of-the-art technology to put on an amazing array of images and moving animations above the performers. It is a knock-out musical performance by Roger’s backing band, led by fan-favorite guitarists Snowy White and GE Smith.

While it obviously would have been great to see legendary Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour make an appearance, Snowy White is just about the best replacement possible. It didn’t bother me as a fan that Roger lip syncs some of his vocals. He’s getting up in there in age and the concert experience heard in The Wall isn’t intimate enough for some studio sweetening to get in the way.

As a die-hard Pink Floyd fan, I’ve never seen The Wall staged so immaculately in concert. This is a fantastic film that goes beyond the ordinary concert experience for long-time fans. Roger Waters puts on a show for the ages, aided by hypnotic visuals and his classic songs from The Wall.

Movie ★★★★★

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Universal delivers an impressive looking concert film filled with rich visuals on Blu-ray. Few concerts have this much definition or resolution in Hi-Def. Running over two hours, the main feature is encoded in AVC on a BD-50 mostly by itself. Universal saw fit to move most of the special features to a second BD. The video encode averages a steady 29.49 Mbps. The 1080P video comes in a smooth 2.40:1 scope presentation shot by cinematographer Brett Turnbull. Few concert videos have ever looked this nice.

The Wall is more of an experience than a straight concert performance, incorporating a number of lighting effects and giant props into its narrative as the musicians play. Giant images flash on the wall itself as it is built up during the show.

Video is strikingly sharp with pristine detail. The biggest problem comes from the occasional hint of chroma noise in the red stage lighting that bathes the crowd and Roger Waters as he plays. The visuals are mesmerizing with deep black levels and razor-sharp definition.

Visuals are a key element of Waters’ concert performance and work perfectly for the album. This is now the definitive live version of The Wall. Its excellent picture quality is certainly impressive in the context of concert films, which tend to look terrible from lighting designed for live audiences. This concert film has been shot with a keen eye towards the home viewer.

Video ★★★★☆

Buckle up for this amazing sonic journey. Roger Waters The Wall comes with the best soundtrack heard this year in the form of incredible Dolby Atmos. The album’s classic songs are performed impeccably in the expansive, sweeping 7.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Sweetly mastered with loads of dynamic range and tight bass, it contains a new reference standard for precise instrument separation and clarity.

The soaring guitar solos by Snowy White and others are crystal-clear. The vocals by Roger Waters and his backing singers sound fantastic, possibly sweetened in the studio. This is now my favorite performance of The Wall with its surround explosion and awesome discrete mix. It sounds less like a live performance and more like a finely tuned studio version of the album. A secondary stereo option is included in 2.0 PCM quality.

It is surround mixes like this one for why people invest thousands into their home theaters. This is a new reference standard that pushes the envelope with its flawless sound quality and perfectly designed, ambitious surround mix.

Universal provides virtually every possible language as subtitle options. They display in a white font remaining inside the scope presentation at all times. This is just a sampling: Japanese, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Danish and more subtitles are available.

Audio ★★★★★

The big bonus here is the rare reunion performance by David Gilmour at one of Roger’s dates on this tour. It was a surprise that blew the crowd away and seeing it is a real treat for Pink Floyd fans. It could be the last time the two principal members of Pink Floyd’s classic years play together on stage. Loaded with behind-the-scenes material and Roger himself, the featurettes come in the form of short episodic films that first appeared on Facebook.

A digital code good for both an UltraViolet copy and iTunes version is included. A slipcover is available. A limited edition of 3000 deluxe units is sold separately, signed by Roger Waters.

A Visit To Frank Thompson (04:58 in HD) – Roger Waters visits the memorial to British Major Frank Thompson, a man that heroically died fighting the Nazis. It is an emotional piece and a nice tribute to the fallen soldier.

Time Lapse: Athens (06:26 in HD) – Time lapse video of what it takes for a venue to be prepared leading up to the concert itself. Set to instrumental music.

Time Lapse: Buenos Aires (04:14 in HD) – A similar featurette to Athens, though this time the stadium preparation was interrupted by a soccer game.

Driving (06:38 in HD) – Footage of Roger Waters driving along the road with friends and family, taken from the bridging scenes in the movie.

‘Comfortably Numb’ Live At the O2 with Special Appearance by David Gilmour (08:19 in HD; 2.0 PCM) – Pink Floyd guitar legend makes a surprise guest appearance in the London show, thrilling the crowd. He sings his vocal parts and plays the guitar for the classic song. Roger looks animated and happy that Gilmour is there on stage with him. The crowd goes wild when they realize Gilmour is the one singing.

‘Outside The Wall’ Live At the O2 with Special Appearances by David Gilmour and Nick Mason (08:50 in HD; 2.0 PCM) – Roger and David bring the backing band together on stage and say goodbye at the end of the concert performance.

Facebook Films (57:54 in HD) – 31 short segments covering a wide array of production information from Roger and other members of the entire show. Topics include Alan Parker’s 1981 film adaptation of The Wall, Roger’s guitars before a show, the themes behind everything and more. It’s a fairly comprehensive look behind the scenes that don’t get overly complicated. Roger is heavily featured in short sound bites.

Extras ★★★★★

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.