About the Wall - James Guthrie


The first demo of The Wall that Roger sent me had enough material on it for three albums, but during the recording process that got whittled down to two. The four of us on the production side discussed changes and developments, as well as arrangements and instrumentation on a regular daily basis, but since the bulk of the writing and the overall concept was Roger's, he made most of the final decisions. One of his great strengths is that he's very good at deleting things: he's not concerned that something may have taken three days to produce, nor that he loves it. If it isn't appropriate, or if it serves no purpose to the overall sound or narrative, it goes. For me, that's a very important rule of production. You need to be able to be ruthless when necessary.

At various points during the sessions Roger approached me to mix the live shows. I had never mixed a live performance before, and was naturally anxious at the prospect of working in the radically different acoustic environment of the concert arena, but Roger persisted. In the end I realized that it would a fantastic challenge and experience.

Musically, the stage show was faithful to the recording except for a few additions. 'What Shall We Do Now', for example, had been removed from the album at the last minute to make the narrative more concise and because in those days we were working to the requirements of vinyl.

The main logistical problem of the show was timing. There was just so much to coordinate: the inflatable puppets to appear on cue; sound effects; the aeroplane; Gerald's films etc. Not to mention the building of the wall itself. It was enormously complex. In fact, our in-house equipment at the mixing area was more extensive than most recording studios woudl have been at that time. One hundred and six input channels, not including echo returns! Since everyone wanted to produce the highest resolution sound that was possible, we also had to achieve the maximum separation between the backline amplification. This meant creating on stage what were effectively studio conditions. I don't think anyone had tried to mount such an elaborate show before.

Right up until opening night we'd never had a complete run-through. We'd had walk throughs during which we stopped for corrections, miscues and the rest, but we'd never performed the show without any breaks. The only real glitch occured on the first night when a stage drape caught fire from spraying pyros at the end of 'In The Flesh'. Apart from that incident the shows generally ran very smoothly.


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