The Wall First Ever Live (Sigma 116)
The Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, USA – February 7, 1980
Disc 1 (68:24) MC Intro (Cynthia Fox KMET-FM), In The Flesh?, The Thin Ice, Another Brick In The Wall Part 1, The Happiest Days Of Our Lives, Another Brick In The Wall Part 2, Mother, Goodbye Blue Sky, Empty Spaces # 1, Empty Spaces # 2, What Shall We Do Now?, Young Lust, One Of My Turns, Don’t Leave Me Now, Another Brick In The Wall Part 3, Goodbye Cruel World
Disc 2 (54:00) Hey You, Is There Anybody Out There?, Nobody Home, Vera, Bring The Boys Back Home, Comfortably Numb, The Show Must Go On, MC Intro (Cynthia Fox KMET-FM), In The Flesh, Run Like Hell, Waiting For The Worms, Stop, The Trial, Outside The Wall
Pink Floyd’s North American tour in support of The Wall consisted of just 12 concerts split between two cities, Los Angeles and New York. All of the concerts from the tour were captured on tape save for the February 11 show where no tape is known to exist. This new release from the folks at Sigma presents a show that has long needed an overhaul, the very first live performance of The Wall. Collectors know there has been a previous release of this concert as part of the Azimuth Coordinator 1975-1980 (Front Row Center MG3362-67) box set that uses a different tape source that was distant and lacked dynamics. For this new release Sigma uses a much better source and after doing some research and guessing that it comes from the deadbman recording. It is a near excellent recording that is clear and detailed and much closer to the stage, all instruments and vocals are well defined in the mix. It has just the right mix of music to crowd and has a powerful sound with perfect ambience. There is a very minor amount of hiss in the quieter sections, overall this is a joy to listen to.
The recording begins with the taper’s friend asking if he is ready and Cynthia Fox does her introduction that is interrupted by the band starting In The Flesh?, the band sound powerful and while there are a few hiccups, sound well rehearsed for the massive undertaking. Roger’s vocals sound as if he is reciting the lyrics versus actually singing them for The Thin Ice, Another Brick part 1 sounds sparse while part 3 hits on all marks, you can hear some counting in but the backing chorus is great and the song is a crowd favorite. The beginning of Mother has a strange sound coming from the stage that interferes with the guitar but quickly fades, the audience is less vocal during the questioning lyrics. It also sounds like Roger is having troubles with his microphone, needless to say when they harmonize it sounds off for lack of a better word. A blast from fireworks breaks the gentle mood of Goodbye Blue Sky but the audience does not even acknowledge it, something that would have fed the rowdy behavior.
What makes this tape famous, other than its the first Wall show, is the curtains catching fire during Empty Spaces, Roger stops the proceedings about 1:15 mark and tells the audience “its the best thing to do” while giving the camera engineers specific instructions as to where to re start the video. The fire is quickly quelled and Roger continually tells the video guy to go to the part where the full moon is out, he eventually gets it right. There is a tape flip at 4:02 in Don’t Leave Me Now but no music or sound effects are lost, the edit is very smooth. Another Brick part 3 features some very nice jamming from the band that is very reminiscent of the Animals tour.
Hey You is complete although David’s guitar solo is low in the mix and you hear much more of Snowy White’s guitar. There is what sounds almost like a click track throughout Nobody Home and there is a tape cut between it and Vera with nothing missing but cheering. You can here counting at the beginning of Vera that is very clear and then it stops, an obvious ear monitor failure. Bring The Boys Back Home suffers from lack of dynamics and sounds a bit disjointed. The click track is back for Comfortably Numb and Roger’s vocal delivery sounds as if he is thinking of something else, this is the hardest part of the show as the band is completely obscured by The Wall and must keep in time with the visual display and the first live version of Comfortably Numb comes off sluggish.
The Show Must Go On is a mess, full of miscues but by the second verse they are somewhat back on track. Cynthia Fox is back as Master of Ceremonies, it is a bit longer than other versions as I am sure there is much “discussion” backstage as to what is going on. The band soon takes the stage and soon drowns her out and the band seems back on pace and deliver a great In The Flesh that gets the audience on their feet. Waiting For The Worms is musically and sonically, David shares the vocals and the audience cheer loudly at the visual spectacle of marching hammers and the sort. Roger’s vocals for The Trial are very unique, he sings soft and quiet during the mother portion that is very interesting to say the least but the piece fails to deliver sonically. The destruction of the Wall brings a huge ovation from the audience as the band emerges to perform Outside The Wall, again it sounds a bit disjointed, but what better way to finish? The excellent sound quality and inaugural performance of Roger Waters’ masterpiece make for an incredible listening experience.
The packaging is typical Sigma, full color cover using live shots from the concerts as well as Gerarld Scarfe artwork, there is a sticker included in the set and the CD’s have art work from the front cover on them featuring the Wife character. With this new release Sigma has given us the definitive statement on the first Wall gig, one that deserves many repeated listenings, at a loud volume. For me Sigma’s releases have been a bit of hit or miss as they seem to concentrate on minor upgrades of shows that have been booted to death, Sigma 116 is a home run.
This was a great release that I enjoyed very much, and thanks for the very interesting review, but does anybody out there possibly have the live Wall show at Earls Court on Aug. 7th, 1980, esp. on factory-pressed original silver? I only have it on non-commercial CD-R, but would love to eventually get it on pressed original silver, as, of all the live Wall shows that still haven’t been commercially released yet, at least not to my knowledge, the 1980-08-07 one at Earls Court is most likely the best one remaining. So anybody have it, or at least know anything about it? Thanks to anybody who could try to reply helpfully.
Thanks for the detailed review, which somehow I missed in 2014(!). I may now get this title – had been feeling underwhelmed by some releases of The Wall shows.
I just received my copy of this show yesterday, and I have never heard this particular show before. First, I am very impressed with whoever recorded this very first live Wall show. Most enterprising, and of course of historical significance. Then of course the sound is really very good. It is easy on the ears from the first to the last track, and I wouldn’t be ashamed to play this also to unsuspecting casual Pink Floyd fans.
Secondly, I have to admit that for such a mammoth undertaking as performing the entire double album it is surprisingly tight. Ok, the few mishaps as mentioned in the above review, but apart from those this was a very professional premiere performance of a very challenging show.
I am very happy to have this in my collection. Also I was lucky enough to get hold of one of the numbered editions that came with the LA rehearsals as a bonus double CDr. That one is yet to hit the player, but I do look forward to it!