Watching The World Upon The Wall (Godfather Records GR311/312)
Earl’s Court Exhibition Hall, London, England – June 16th, 1981
Disc 1: MC Intro/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, Young Lust, One Of My Turns, Don’t Leave Me Now, Another Brick In The Wall – part 3, Goodbye Cruel World
Disc 2: Hey You, Is There Anybody Out There, Nobody Home, Vera, Bring The Boys Back Home, Comfortably Numb, The Show Must Go On, MC Intro, In The Flesh, Run Like Hell, Waiting For The Worms, Stop, The Trial, Outside The Wall
Watching The World Upon The Wall represents the silver debut of Pink Floyd’s June 16th, 1981 performance of The Wall at Earl’s Court in London, which was both the next to last of the tour as well as Roger Waters’ penultimate with the band (until the Live 8 reunion some 24 years later).
Previously, this show was only available via a handful of fan-produced CDR titles such as Whistlers In The Audience, Warm Thrill Of Confusion, and most recently, the Pro-CDR bonus disc Deepest Fear, all of which utilized one of two audience recordings known to exist.
Cutting to the chase here, Godfather have simply outdone themselves with this release, which is in a word, phenomenal. The tri-fold cardboard sleeve is absolutely gorgeous, adorned with powerful images from performances of “The Wall,” and there is a bonus 4 panel glossy insert with a detailed history of the album, tour, and notes on this performance. Of course, the audio content is obviously far more important than the packaging, but again, Godfather have surpassed all of their previous Floyd releases in that regard.
Sonically, this ranks amongst the very best recordings of this tour featuring perfectly captured, three-dimensional sound abundant with rich textures and crystal clear down to the slightest nuance; every instrument, vocal, and sound effect/pre-recorded layer shines through perfectly, making for an extremely rewarding, completely engulfing listening experience.
There is the occasional, barely audible patch of distortion in a couple of the louder passages, but honestly that’s only after being micro-analytical with the headphones – cranked on a stereo, I doubt anyone would be the wiser. All editing has been handled professionally, with only a handful of extremely subtle changes in aural character (some passages have a minor amount of hiss or indicate a cross-fade). All music is intact apart from “Hey You” fading in just after the first couple pick strokes of the 12-string guitar intro. The first half of Gary Yudman’s opening speech is also missing from the beginning of Disc 1, commencing with “I would like to remind you, when you do leave the theater tonight, be careful of your neighbor when you’re leaving.”
As for the band’s performance, first of all let me articulate the fact that I approach The Wall the same way as Dark Side Of The Moon in that I prefer to digest it as a complete suite the way it was intended, rather than dissecting it into individual components. Nevertheless, the band perform nearly flawlessly throughout the concert; the only minor flub I detected was at 1:09 during “Hey You,” when Gilmour accidentally mutes a note meant to sustain. It’s a great night for Roger Waters who comes across as powerful and inspired, which is crucial to performances of The Wall since virtually the entire story hinges upon his central role within it.
What typically distinguishes one show from another on this tour are Roger’s introductions to “Young Lust” and “Run Like Hell” which in this case are: “This is called Young Lust. Lust! Lust!” and “Thank you all very much. This next song’s for all the whistlers in the audience. Are there any whistlers in the audience? Let’s all have a fucking good whistle. Pffft! (attempting to whistle) Christ, I must learn to do that, it sounds like such fun. This is called Run Like Hell. I’d like to see you all getting your hands together and having a good time. Mmmm! Disco! Get down!” respectively.
Otherwise, all of the usual highlights are present (Gilmour’s “Comfortably Numb” solo, Waters’ multi-faceted vocalizations, the thunderous destruction of the wall onstage, the ecstatic audience reactions, etc.), however, in light of his recent passing, I felt it more appropriate to focus on how throughout the tour Richard Wright truly asserted himself musically, despite having been relegated to the status of a hired hand – and this evening was no exception. Wright’s subtle and tasteful improvisations truly enhance the musical experience of The Wall in a live setting; we’re fortunate to have these details captured so well on Watching The World Upon The Wall, and can only speculate how the actual studio album would’ve been elevated even further had Richard’s role been more prominent.
The extra insert included with this set claims that from this particular evening, only “The Show Must Go On” has been released officially, however the fabulously detailed book authored by Vernon Fitch and Richard Mahon Comfortably Numb – A History Of The Wall suggests that “Mother” and “Hey You” were also used on the official Is There Anybody Out There? album as well.
That aside, the real bottom line here is that Watching The World Upon The Wall is another landmark release from Godfather, whose work is consistently of the highest quality possible; this one not only warrants my highest recommendation, I’ll go so far as to say it’s essential. Bravo!