As U2’s massive 360° Tour, featuring “The Claw,” got underway in Barcelona last night (6.30.09), I felt it a good time to look back on a similarly gargantuan tour, one that happened nearly 30 years ago – Pink Floyd’s 1980 The Wall World Tour.
Fredric Dannen’s book Hit Men starts off talking about the Floyd tour spectacular:
“The Wall tour, which required a stage crew of eighty and cost nearly $1 million in props, set a new standard for sheer spectacle. Each night a Spitfire aircraft dive-bombed the length of the concert hall and a forty-foot inflated pink pig danced in the air. The arena shook with quadrophonic sound. During the first half, the crew lugged four hundred man-sized bricks on stage and built a wall. By intermission it was four stories high and hid the band. The bricks, made of white polystyrene, formed a movie screen for surreal animated cartoons. At the show’s end, the wall came crashing down.
Pink Floyd’s concert was too elaborate to take on the road, so the tour was limited to four cities: Los Angeles [Los Angeles Sports Arena, 5 shows], New York [Nassau Coliseum; Long Island, 4 shows], London [Earls Court, 9 total shows] and Cologne/Dortmund [Westfalenhalle, 7 shows]. As the first stop, Los Angeles became gripped by Floydmania. The Wall concert was instantly the hottest ticket in town.”
In Nick Mason’s book Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd, he shares of the tour:
“At one point someone had suggested that the show would tour, rather than be a static event in just a few cities. The concept of a giant inflatable slug with sufficient space for the entire show plus audience was promoted briefly, but fortunately for designers, crew, performers and health and safety experts it never saw the light of day.”
Here’s an example of how it all looked. This is “Hey You,” recorded at London’s Earls Court, August 9, 1980. At 4:00, you begin to see how the band genuinely was behind the wall.