The tour was relatively small compared to previous tours for a major release, with only 31 shows in total. The tour was notable for its extensive use of stage theatrics, most notably a giant wall constructed across the stage to convey the sense of alienation present in both the album, and Roger Waters' personal feelings at the time.
|The Wall Tour|
|Tour by Pink Floyd|
|Associated album||The Wall|
|Start date||7 February 1980|
|End date||17 June 1981|
|No. of shows||31|
|Pink Floyd concert chronology|
"I was struck by the thought that there was a huge wall, that you couldn't see, between me and the audience," explained Roger Waters. "Then I drew it and started to talk to people about it. And they thought I was mad, because my original idea was to start building a wall at the beginning of the show and, when it's finished, they can't see you or hear you any more, and then the show is over."
The tour's costs were estimated to have reached US$1.5 million even before the first performance. The New York Times stated in its 2 March 1980 edition: "The Wall show remains a milestone in rock history though and there's no point in denying it. Never again will one be able to accept the technical clumsiness, distorted sound and meagre visuals of most arena rock concerts as inevitable." It concluded, "The Wall show will be the touchstone against which all future rock spectacles must be measured."
The problem, really, with the show is that it wasn't a touring show, so it had to be set up, and left, and taken down again. There were a lot of light operators and stage operators and wall builders. Because of the amount of stuff that went up and down, floated across, did this, did that, there were a lot of operators, rather than just people putting stuff up. And, of course we had lots of semis, as I believe you call them, because of the special lighting pods that we used which needed, each one needs a trailer unit to hold it. And the special stage, because of the way the stage was actually used, there was a sort of structural bracing piece for the building of the wall. So it was all special equipment, I mean it was absurdly expensive. It's not something other people will do, generally, because it's just so expensive to put on, it's simply not feasible. But it was great to have done it once.
The concert was performed just 31 times in four cities: Los Angeles (7 shows), Uniondale (5), Dortmund (8) and London (11). The primary 'tour' consisted of 18 shows in L.A., Uniondale and London in 1980, but the band performed a further eight shows in Dortmund (13–20 February 1981) and five more shows at Earl's Court (13–17 June) for filming, with the intention of integrating the shows into the upcoming movie.
The London shows are documented on the album Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81.
David Gilmour and Mason attempted to convince Waters to expand the show for a more lucrative, large-scale stadium tour, but because of the nature of the material (one of the primary themes is the distance between an artist and his audience) Waters balked at this.
On tour, relations between Gilmour, Mason, Waters and Richard Wright were at an all-time low: their four Winnebagos were parked in a circle with the doors facing away from the centre; an isolated Waters used his own vehicle to arrive at each venue and stayed in separate hotels from Gilmour, Mason and Wright. Despite having left the band upon completion of the album, Wright agreed to complete the tour as a salaried musician, and coincidentally ended up being the only member of the group who made any money from the venture. "I did not just want to walk out on this great thing I'd been working on," he recalled. "I just decided I'd go out and play my best, possibly with the hope that, if it worked out, [Waters'] decision to have me out could have been reverted."
The idea to include live concert footage of any significant length for The Wall film was dropped shortly before the final shows took place. There are conflicting statements regarding the professionally filmed footage. It had been widely believed that 'the wrong type of film' had been used and the results were dark and murky. Mark Fisher, partly responsible for designing the show said the footage was: 'very dark and horrible and boring and should be burned'. Alan Parker himself said: '[the filming of the shows were] five blown opportunities'. These rumours were partially scotched when the Channel 4 documentary 'Behind the Wall' (2000) used perfectly clear footage from the 1981 concerts. 27 February and 9 August 1980 concerts were shot on videotape. David Gilmour has stated in an interview that only three tracks were captured on film:
About 20 minutes were shot – for example, "Hey You", where the camera was behind the wall focusing on us, then it went up and over the wall onto the audience. That's a great bit of footage. But only three tracks were filmed.
Roger Waters said on an episode of In the Studio with Redbeard which devoted two parts to the making of The Wall that "the London shows in 1980/81 were filmed and he had all of the footage and was thinking of putting it together to be released. However felt extremely reluctant to release the concerts on the video cassette format". He also would have to refer to the shows as a document of what went on.
In the December 2009 issue of Mojo, Roger Waters revealed that he had 'discovered a whole load of new footage of The Wall shows' and was busy 'editing it'. He explained that he assumed the cameramen decided to shoot more than they were asked to as they had the cameras and 'nobody [seemed] bothered'. It is presumed that this footage is 35mm film. In Rolling Stone magazine, Waters expresses that the footage would "undoubtedly" be released to the public.
DVD of The Wall Immersion Box Set includes the professionally shot 35mm footage of "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" at Earls Court on June 13, 1981. The footage seen on the bootleg Divided We Fall by Harvested DVD is from August 8, 1980.
The 1980/1981 set lists comprised the entire album, The Wall. The songs that did not make it onto the album, "What Shall We Do Now?", as well as an extra verse in "The Show Must Go On", and the then-untitled "The Last Few Bricks", were also played.
|7 February 1980||Los Angeles||United States||Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena||126,000|
|8 February 1980|
|9 February 1980|
|10 February 1980|
|11 February 1980|
|12 February 1980|
|13 February 1980|
|24 February 1980||Uniondale, New York||Nassau Coliseum||72,500|
|25 February 1980|
|26 February 1980|
|27 February 1980|
|28 February 1980|
|4 August 1980||London||England||Earls Court||120,000|
|5 August 1980|
|6 August 1980|
|7 August 1980|
|8 August 1980|
|9 August 1980|
|13 February 1981||Dortmund||West Germany||Westfalenhallen||132,000|
|14 February 1981|
|15 February 1981|
|16 February 1981|
|17 February 1981|
|18 February 1981|
|19 February 1981|
|20 February 1981|
|13 June 1981||London||England||Earls Court||100,000|
|14 June 1981|
|15 June 1981|
|16 June 1981|
|17 June 1981|