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Pink Floyd - Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY, February 25th/26th 1980 Print E-mail

Written by Brain Damage contributor

(Originally appeared in Brain Damage Magazine issue 38)

A WALL GOES UP AT THE NASSAU COLISEUM

It was in December 1979 that The Wall album was released, and shortly after when rumours began circulating of an upcoming tour. However, this U.S. tour would be vastly different as it would only take place in two cities, Los Angeles and New York. Pink Floyd would play only seven nights at the LA Sports Arena and five nights at New York's Nassau Coliseum. Some weeks later on a chilly Winter night I found myself at home listening to WNEW-FM, as I usually did back then. Suddenly two DJs began talking about a phone call they just received. The call was from a Floyd fan who said he obtained a copy of the next morning's NY Times newspaper. He went on to say that it contained a full page advert for The Wall concerts bearing a headline "On Sale Today at 8am"! I knew I had to act immediately!

I telephoned my good friend Bob, also a big Floyd fan, and convinced him that we must get to our local Ticketmaster at once. He agreed. When we arrived there was already a car parked with four people in it trying to keep warm. A few minutes after I parked, a guy from the other car came over and knocked on my window. He asked that Bob and I sign a list that they had started, which we gladly did. With that we secured spots 5 and 6 in what I knew would be a very long line by morning. Feeling more at ease, we settled in for a cold night. Needless to say, we had to keep the car running the entire time to keep us from freezing to death.

The morning seemed to arrive quickly, and sure enough a line of about 200 people accumulated before 8am. The clock struck eight, the line began to move and within two minutes Bob and I were purchasing tickets to what would become one of the most historic rock tours ever! Only three of the five shows were on sale then, so we secured tickets to two of them. A few days later the tickets for the other two shows went on sale. Only this time the New York and New Jersey metro area was blocked out of the sale to allow fans from Virginia to Maine a crack at these scarce tickets. All that remained was to wait for the last week of February to arrive.

On February 25th, we arrived in the parking lot at 7pm, one hour prior to showtime. While walking from the car to the Coliseum, the first thing I noticed was all the out-of-town license plates. Some from as far away as Colorado! I knew that thousands of fans from all across the country, and overseas I'm sure, were desperate to see these concerts. This was confirmed by the huge number of people canvassing the parking lot asking everyone "Have you got an extra ticket to sell?"

Once inside the Coliseum my eyes were immediately drawn to the enormous stage centered between two partially built sections of a wall. These two sections pertruded out from the seating on both sides of the stage and would eventually be joined together, brick by brick, to form one giant wall across the entire Coliseum, obscuring the band from its audience. Bob and I made our way to the 5th row where we had two aisle seats directly in front of David Gilmour's microphone. At 8pm sharp the lights went out and a local DJ, Gary Yudman, took the stage. He read a list of do's and don'ts (the usual warnings of no flash cameras, fireworks, etc.). Right at the end of his message, the surrogate band (consisting of backing musicians) led by Roger Waters broke into the powerful opening "In the Flesh?".

Pink Floyd, with surrogate band in tow, proceeded to give us a beautifully played note-for-note rendition of sides one and two of the double album. It was only during Another Brick Part 2 and Mother that we were treated to a little jamming. Also, during these two songs, gigantic inflatables of a school teacher and mother were dangling in front of the wall. Throughout this set, the band gave us all the pyrotechnics and film footage we had grown accustomed to. The large round screen was used for the films, and even the flying plane was brought back to crash into the wall. All during the first half, the roadies were slowly building the wall. We were now at the end of side two and the band were completely hidden behind the wall save one brick-sized opening. It was from this "window" in the wall that Waters sang Goodbye Cruel World. One final brick was placed in the opening, bringing the first half of the concert to a close.

After a twenty minute intermission, which I used to buy a T-Shirt and program, the second half of the show was underway. The band played Hey You while completely hidden behind the wall. A few bricks were then removed so as to give us a peak at Dave while he played Is There Anybody Out There?. Following that, a small portion of the bricks were were unfolded to reveal a living room setting on a platform, on which Waters sat in a chair facing a working television. From there he sang Nobody Home. After the next two songs were sung by Waters to a host of wartime film footage projected on the wall, we had arrived at the point that everyone had been waiting for. We were about to hear Floyd's greatest hit, Comfortably Numb! But the most spectacular and highest point of the concert surely had to be Dave's first verse and guitar solo which he performed on the very top of the wall.

After a quick rendition of the next song, the band took a short pause to re-group and allow for Gary Yudman, the concert MC, to return to the stage. He again rattled off the same do's and don'ts to replay his role at the beginning of the show. Only this time he read them in a deep robotic voice. Within seconds of his finish, the band started up again to the opening chords of In the Flesh. Now the entire band were in front of the wall (now used as a large screen for their films).

Waters introduced the next song, Run Like Hell, and dedicated it "to all the paranoid people in the audience". During Waiting For the Worms, the best animation sequence was used - the infamous "marching hammers"! After the next short song, The Trial sequence began with Waters singing before a host of animation clips projected on the wall behind him. At the end of the song, with the chants of "tear down the wall" echoing throughout the venue, the wall fell. It was knocked over by the roadies with the bricks falling harmlessly between the stage and the audience. The group, led by Roger Waters, paraded in front of the remains of the wall while playing Outside the Wall.

I'm glad that I was "one of the few" fortunate fans to have witnessed two of these historic concerts. All that remains to be said is that the last week of February 1980 will live in my mind forever.

 
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