Pink Noise performing The Wall, 2001
De Hoeve, Groesbeek, The Netherlands

By Jan van Grootel and Ed Sander


The review below is compiled of an on-line discussion between several Dutch Pink Floyd fans on the internet; it combines reviews of Ed Sander and Jan van Grootel (red text) plus additional background information.

The concert took place in venue "De Hoeve" in Groesbeek, The Netherlands. Not a venue where you would normally expect a performance of The Wall. On the outside this joint looked rather much like one of these private clubs of which you can find a lot in Limburg and which are often visited by Germans who like to do a 'quicky' across the border.
All of this was emphasized even more when we came in and noticed invitations for a sexy X-mas party with the contest: "who's got the most beautiful x-mas balls". Not something which brings a rendition of the Wall epic to mind.

When entering the venue you could pick up one of those pink masks that were also used for the Berlin concert. On the backside a summary of the story of The Wall was printed, as was a request to hold the mask in front of your face during Empty Spaces and Waiting for the Worms.

Once inside we turned out to be in a rural disco and after we had claimed a spot at one of the many little bars we noticed the familiar foam-blocks wall with projections.
After having our first round of drinks we took a closer look at the stage. All of the ingredients were present for a full performance, although everything was 5 times smaller than in Dortmund in the early eighties; a real foam-blocks wall, an airplane, puppets of the Teacher and Wife and of course the Flying Pig, this time without enormous genitals.

During Mother we also saw Pink's Mother appear in part of the wall; a triangular piece of the wall had a drawing of Pink's protector on it that appeared when the lights inside the triangle were switched on. The same trick was also used in Berlin. Mister Screen, as Pink Floyd used to call their round projection screen, was present as well .... although upon closer inspection it turned out to be a turned over trampoline, surrounded by circles of christmas lights in different colours ! All of this gives a good indication of the atmosphere of the evening: the show took a lot of work with lots of enthusiasm but little means.
The stage itself was build on the dancefloor, which was sort of a pit in the venue, as a result the band would later perform at the eye level of those people standing outside the 'pit' which did not improve the visibility of the sold out show (more than 1000 people had entered the venue by the time the show started).

The show started with a tape of When The Tigers Broke Free (part1) and soon a man with accordion walked on stage to play the end of Outside The Wall, as can be heard at the very beginning of Pink Floyd's album. Personally I prefer the 'master of ceremonies' approach that Pink Floyd took during their Wall shows and as can be heard on Is There Anybody Out There ?, perhaps because I neither like accordion or the song itself. The band walked on stage and soon In The Flesh ? kicked off.

The start was stunning with quite some fireworks but unfortunately also with a sound that was far from perfect. To compensate this, the volume was increased substantially. The Surrogate Band started in a very convincing way, but after two songs I got the feeling that I would be watching a surrogate band the whole evening, maintaining the hope that at one time the real artists would appear from behind the curtain.
When vocalist appeared on stage and started 'singing' I for a minute thought that I was watching Limp Bizkit play Pink Floyd. Quite a character, he came across a bit silly although this worked out great for the last section of the show.

Pink Noise failed to fulfil one expectation: on their posters they announced a "Complete remake of the Original 80/81 show". Not. This rendition was fully based on the Berlin Wall show, complete with female vocalists. A shame, although one of the ladies did put on a fine performance. The girls were quite wrapped up in the music, so much that their dancing looked more like careful steps in the disco than studied choreography. The lead guitarist was without doubt the most talented musician on stage. Although his guitar play didn't really come close to Gilmour's he certainly had charisma. Especially his solo for Comfortably Numb on one of the small balconies above the dancefloor was met with much appreciation.

The projections were very problematic, not only did annoying messages appear on screen ('VIDEO-1 PAL'), but we were also treated to candid camera like footage of personnel that was changing clothes behind the wall !
Where original projections were absent we were treated to bits and pieces from The Wall movie on the disco's projection screen that was rolled down in front of the stage.
This made the presence of the circular screen on stage rather useless since it was hardly used. Only during certain songs the christmas lights would glow temporarily. The worst thing of all was the timing of the projections. Several times the screen came half-way down to remain blank, while during Goodbye Blue Sky we already got footage from Empty Spaces/What Shall We Do Now.
Unfortunately it wasn't just the timing of the projections that was far from perfect. The puppet of the Teacher appeared by the time Another Brick in the Wall had almost finished and at the end of In The Flesh ? the small airplane crashed behind the wall, to be followed by a flash of firework only several seconds later.

The solos at the end of Another Brick in the Wall (part 2) were extended and the band also played What Shall We Do Now and Almost Gone/The Last Few Bricks while two wall builders closed the last gaps in the wall with all but one stone. After Goodbye Cruel World the last hole was closed. Even though the earlier effects failed to impress me, I always find the building up and eventual sight of the closed, big wall - this time featuring projections of graffiti - quite stunning.

Especially during the break there was not much to see on the wall (projection-wise) to keep the public entertained. All around us most people were having conversation that had little to do with the music, the buzz was constantly and annoyingly present.

During this far too long break an attempt was done to create a 40s atmosphere by playing old ditties from the forties. This was received with a rather cynical attitude by the audience. Eventually a tape of When The Tigers Broke Free (part 2) was played. I seem to remember that the band started the second half of the show with Is There Anybody Out There ?, during which two pieces of the wall were removed, so the audience could see the guitarist and keyboard player. Next was Hey You, during which a nice effect was used that the band must have seen at IQ's Subteranea show; while the band was playing behind the wall, they were filmed and the images were projected on the front of the wall. A nice effect; better than staring at a blank wall.
During Nobody Home Ralf (playing Pink), sat down in the well-know chair next to the lamp. Strange enough the guitarist did the vocals for this song, leaving not much to do for 'Pink' in front of the wall.
Vera and Bring The Boys Back Home were accompanied by nice slide projections and during Comfortably Numb one of the organisers of the show appeared on stage as the Doctor.

After the full length version of The Show Must Go On was played, Ralf returned on stage to play the facist Pink during In The Flesh and Waiting For The Worms, including the rant through the megaphone. While Ralf put on a fine performance in his role, the two standard-bearers next to him looked rather silly, bopping their banners up and down with complete lack of synchronicity.
Stop was downright pathetic; badly sung and with a much too loud and fast piano melody, making it sound more like the soundtrack to an old slapstick movie. The Trial was good fun though, with various musicians playing the Lawyer, Teacher, Mother, Judge, etc.

After the wall came down I has expected them to close the set with The Tide is Turning in true Berlin style. Nope. Seemingly Pink Noise regretted that part of the show had taken place behind the wall since they - after playing Outside the Wall with the accordionist and the female vocalist joining in with high pitched vocals, causing much hilarity in the crowd - decided to play the two most well-known songs of the second set again, 'in the flesh' for the audience; first Comfortably Numb followed by Run Like Hell. I personally thought this order was wrong, but oh well.
While Jan might question the order of the encores I would openly critisize the choice of playing some of the same songs again. I don't see any added value in that. It would have been much better if they had rehearsed an additional song like The Tide Is Turning, Money or Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

I think the folks of Pink Noise have put a lot of energy into this evening, in which almost all of the props of the original show have been presented. Lots of good will. For an 'outsider' this must have been a fun evening, but next time I'd prefer some more coordination around the visual part of the show.

Compared to the performance of The Wall by Pink Project several years ago in The Hague, this version was much weaker from a musical point of view. The show however was much bigger, but as a result of the incorrect timings and technical problems, all of the films, projections and props often failed to impress. As a result I personally thought Pink Project's version was better.

As mentioned, musically the band was rather mediocre. The guitar solo's were fine, especially in the Pulse version of Comfortably Numb. None of the vocalists managed to impress me though, with the exception of female vocalist Particia (who did some great vocal parts) and Ralf in his role of 'Nazi-Pink', but that was mainly because he perfectly performed Pink's self-parody. The characteristically voices during The Trial were very okay as well. Some of the songs didn't sound 100% right. Especially In The Flesh ? seemed to be played in the wrong key.

As Jan already mentioned, this must have been a great night for the local population, including many followers and friends and family of the band. I doubt if most of them have even heard The Wall before. On the other hand, for the critical Floyd fan that knows all of the details of the record as well as the Floyd and Water's versions, there was much to be critical about. They would probably think 'this will not do !'. Nevertheless, even though I didn't enjoy the show as much as I would have liked, I have tremendous respect for the band and crew that have put up this show. And to see a group of people enjoying what they do is more than worth an ovation as well.

The show was performed one more time in Groesbeek on the 26th of January 2001. Neither Ed or Jan were present at that second performance.

 

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