Sometimes the gap between stage and crowd doesn’t exist, and sometimes it’s too far.
Sometimes those on stage imagine an elevated-entitlement due to orientation with those who are not.
Sometimes the fine-line that separates the two goes too far.
In the liner notes of Pink Floyd’s Is There Anybody Out There: The Wall Live 1980-81, Roger Waters tells a story of spitting on a front-row fan, during a concert on the “In the Flesh” tour, promoting Pink Floyd’s Animals album, in 1977. Apparently the frustration with the crowd had become too much to handle.
Pink Floyd’s album The Wall expounds upon this dilemma (mostly written by Waters), and something that ultimately goes much deeper, through one of the most complete and masterful rock opera recordings of all time.
The “much deeper” will be explored on here later. For now, the original inspiration.
In a 1979 interview with Tommy Vance, Roger Waters shares,
“The idea for ‘The Wall’ came from ten years of touring, rock shows, I think, particularly the last few years in ’75 and in ’77 we were playing to very large audiences, some of whom were our old audience who’d come to see us play, but most of whom were only there for the beer, in big stadiums, and, er, consequently it became rather an alienating experience doing the shows. I became very conscious of a wall between us and our audience and so this record started out as being an expression of those feelings…
Yeah, it’s all, er, particularly because the people who you’re most aware of at a rock show on stage are the front 20 or 30 rows of bodies. And in large situations where you’re using what’s euphemistically called ‘festival seating’ they tend to be packed together, swaying madly, and it’s very difficult to perform under those situations with screaming and shouting and throwing things and hitting each other and crashing about and letting off fireworks and you know?…
I mean having a wonderful time, but it’s a drag to try and play when all that’s going on. But, er, I felt at the same time that it was a situation we’d created ourselves through our own greed, you know, if you play very large venues…the only real reason for playing large venues is to make money.”