You look at [a]Pink Floyd[/a] on the cover of this, the 20th anniversary “commemorative” live version of the gargantuan folly that was ‘The Wall’, and four improbably austere rubber masks look back. Attempt to budge and you’ll swear those eight soulless, socketless eyes are following your every move; mocking your inability to understand the Floyd phenomenon, taunting your very humanity.
[a]Pink Floyd[/a] were always beyond mere rock’n’roll. To the over-educated progosaurs, The Music (immaculate, impenetrable, huge) is all, with such Luddite concerns as image and – pah! – personality scornfully consigned to the evolutionary dumper. There is no place for frailty or warmth in the Floyd‘s stereo-perfect, genetically modified sphere. Even sprawling concept opus ‘The Wall’– which dealt with such everyman issues as isolation, paranoia and the general crapness of authority – was an emotionally frigid experience. Now, that album’s live rendition – here culled from their stint at Earl’s Court between 1980 and 1981 – proves even the presence of several thousand whooping, pot-happy hippies was no obstacle to the Floyd‘s icy professionalism.
‘Is There Anybody…?’ sees Roger ‘stormy’ Waters and his po-faced (soon to be ex-) pals painstakingly rebuild ‘The Wall’‘s prog-heavy parapets. Indeed, the clinical readings of such guitar-laden pomp fests as ‘Mother’ are so similar to their vinyl ancestors as to be rendered virtually pointless. Yet songs like the subtly poignant ‘Comfortably Numb’ and the magnificent, riff-mungous ‘Run Like Hell’ suggest that behind all their studied proficiency there’s a regular rock band struggling to free itself. Alas, such moments are few and far between. For this is the sound of the Floyd at the height of their powers – towering, precise and solemnly beyond compare. Yes, they’re big and they’re clever. But if [a]Pink Floyd[/a] ever had a heart, it’s yet to be seen.