Sound On Stage, May 1997 (number 7)
'Welcome to the Machine' The story of Pink Floyd's live sound: PART 3
By Mark Cunningham
Mark Cunningham continues his comprehensive study of Pink Floyd's classic tours and goes behind the scenes of the most outstanding live production of the 1980s: "The Wall". Although their eagerly- awaited follow-up to "Animals" began life at Britannia Row Studios, Pink Floyd were soon forced to spend most of 1979 overseas as tax exiles and completed the recording of their new album in the South of France, Los Angeles, and New York. In the mind of Waters, its author, "The Wall", like The Who's "Tommy", was always going to be more than just a double album; it also generated a controversial Alan Parker-directed movie and one of the most ambitiously theatrical rock concert productions of the modern era.
Harvey Goldsmith had been involved in promoting almost every major Floyd tour of the previous 10 years, but nothing could prepare him for the sheer expanse of "The Wall", a project originally born of Water's reaction against stadium rock. He says: "Roger Waters took me out for dinner one night and said, 'I have got this idea,' and he started to tell me about this story. He said, 'I want to build a wall between the band and the audience, and as the show progresses, The Wall will build up and up and up...' The bricks were all cardboard, of course, but I told him that on the last show there should be a concrete wall, so we could do it for real! We talked it through and he pretty well had the whole show in his mind. Then we started liaising with Fisher Park [set design specialists Mark Fisher and Jonathan Park] to create that event which marked a big turning point in the history of live shows."
Throughout the making of the album, plans were being drawn up for the forthcoming production, based on Water's bizarre concepts. As well as a number of massive inflatable puppets based on Gerald Scarfe's distinctive "Wall" cartoon sketches of the schoolteacher, the mother, and wife, the central "prop" was the "Wall" itself: 420 white, fireproof cardboard bricks built 31 foot high and 160 foot wide. It was slowly constructed in front of the band during the first 45 minutes of the show by the six-man Britro Brick Company (!), until Roger Waters slotted the final brick into place at the end of "Goodbye Cruel World" to signify the intermission. The show climaxed with the collapse of the wall against a volley of explosive sound effects and smoke. An encore would have been a trivial irrelevance.
Says Robbie Williams: "I always knew 'The Wall' was a killer album, and that we'd go out and tour it, although most of us assumed it would just involve a slightly bigger PA system and a few lasers. I don't think anybody had any conception of what was going on in Roger's mind, and when we first heard that he wanted to build a massive wall across the stadium with the band performing behind it, we all said, 'You've got to be f**king mad!' We thought the audience would storm the stage and that the poor guys at front of house were going to get killed."
Unable to enter the UK for tax reasons until April 5 1980, Pink Floyd held the live premiere of "The Wall" at Los Angeles Sports Arena on
February 7 1980, then move to Nassau Coliseum in New York for five shows, before finally playing six London dates at Earl's Court on August 4-9.
In deciding upon the most suitable front-of-house engineer, the bass player had only one person in mind, and "The Wall"'s co-producer and engineer, James Guthrie, was approached by Waters several times on the subject. Guthrie, who began his studio career at Mayfair Studios in 1973, says: "I was quite opposed to the idea initially and told him, 'Look Roger, this is a whole different area of expertise. You should get someone more suited to the job, because I have only ever worked in studios.' As time went on, the project became more and more complex. Gerald Scarfe had already begun working on the animation which was used for both the film and live shows, as well as graphics. While we were in France, Roger cornered me yet again and quite abruptly said, 'You are the only person qualified to mix the live show, so you have to do it.' He was also enticing me by saying that we could get any piece of equipment we wanted, and being as I'd always liked a challenge, the prospect became more exciting by the day. I finally agreed, and in the end, we had more equipment at front of house than most of today's studios."
Along with the excitement of making this challenge work, Guthrie was quite naturally anxious at the prospect of working in the radically different
acoustic environment of the concert arena, although the pressure was lifted by the luxury of spending up to three weeks in production rehearsals at the LA Sports Arena. This followed preliminary
routining of the music with the band at Leeds Rehearsal Studios on Sunset Boulevard (next door to where Jackson Browne was rehearsing), while the set was assembled and tested on a movie sound stage in
Culver City. "Once the show started to take shape, the production rehearsals had to take place in the arena simply because the show was so enormous," says Guthrie. "I quickly became
acquainted with the acoustics of a large room, albeit an empty one which is another issue altogether. You can EQ and voice the PA thoroughly but, of course, when the doors open and the audience pours
in, the acoustics change dramatically. This was particularly evident at Nassau Coliseum, where we played in the depths of winter and many of the fans were wearing thick sheepskin coats, which dampened
the sound even further. For me though, the first show would be the first time I would have to deal with this phenomenon."
Few bands had dared to even think of staging such an ambitious show, let alone tried to plan one. Inevitably "The Wall" grew into a monster, a logistical nightmare which required setting up specialist teams within the crew to ensure precision -- a procedure which has since become commonplace within the live industry. The complex music also determined that each Floyd instrumentalist was duplicated and the eight-man line-up enhanced by four backing vocalists, but it was also Water's idea that the Floyd members would each have a "shadow" and this was reflected in the positioning and lighting of the musicians. There was even a "Wall" uniform: the crew and band alike wore black short-sleeved shirts with sewn-on "hammer" logos. Everyone, that is, except Waters who chose to wear a T-shirt with a large "1" emblazoned on his chest. Number One? Top Man? Big Cheese? It made you wonder.
Water's vision necessitated two custom-built stages, one in front of the other at slightly different heights, which were separated by a large black Duvetyne drape. The task of pacing the building of the wall between the two stages and isolating the band from the audience while the show was in motion was no mean feat in itself. Add to this the operation of the Scarfe inflatables, the flying pig, a crashing model Stuka, Marc Brickman's imaginative lighting, film projections, and copious pyrotechnics, and one begins to realize the intensity that must have built up behind the scenes while the audiences sat there agog.
All senses were sent reeling from the very beginning of the show, which began with a quite startling piece of deception. Despite being introduced as Pink
Floyd by a deliberately tacky MC, the first number, "In The Flesh?" (a satirical nod to Water's "Animal" tour experience), was performed at the front of the stage by the surrogate
four-piece (Snowy White, Andy Bown, Peter Wood, and Willie Wilson), who wore perfectly formed latex Floyd masks modeled for by the genuine band at the Hollywood film studios during rehearsals. No
wonder the audience was confused when the second number started and Waters and co. came into view!
HOLD IT! HOLD IT!
Whilst the band and crew had worked solidly on perfecting the show over the previous weeks, not one complete run-through of the production had been attempted without being punctuated by some form of technical or directional problem. Rehearsals continued in this vein right up until the first night, mostly due to Water's relentless perfectionism. It should be noted that the credits for the show read: "'The Wall' written and directed by Roger Waters. Performed by Pink Floyd." While Gilmour's role was to rehearse the band and ensure that individual parts were reproduced faithfully from the album, Water's unique position in this whole production arguably made him the only person who knew exactly how the show should be run. Given the additional responsibility as a singer and bassist, one can only imagine the frustration he incurred when rehearsed sections did not quite go to plan.
Guthrie recalls: "There were so many things to coordinate that we would get part of the way through, only to be stopped by Roger's loud voice through the PA saying, 'Hold it, hold it!' He'd then have a go at somebody for not bringing a puppet out at a vital moment, or saying that the wall should have been built up more by now, and there were also numerous occasions when he'd alert us to badly timed sound effects or lighting cues. It went on and on like this every day with continuous interruptions from Roger, shouting 'Hold it, hold it', and we were becoming increasingly frustrated because we were very anxious to do a complete run-through in order to get a feel for the dynamic and flow of the show." Despite such wishes, the crew had to contend with rehearsing in sections which, Waters has said, was the only way he could accurately plot the progress of his production.
When the big opening night arrived, Guthrie and his front-of-house team joked before the show that whatever occurred, at least Waters could not interrupt the proceedings. After all, this was now playing to a real audience of 11,000 people. But... "During 'The Thin Ice', I could hear an intermittent electronic crackle. I thought it was coming from one of the drum mics, and my assistant engineers Rick Hart and Greg Walsh were going frantic, listening through headphones and soloing everything in an attempt to find the source of this noise. We couldn't work out what it was. Then all of a sudden, Roger shouted through the PA, 'Hold it, hold it!', and I nearly died! I turned to Rick and could see the colour draining from his face. I thought I was dreaming. I looked at Greg, and he had already turned white and was staring in disbelief -- I think we were all in shock! The pyrotechnic guys had guaranteed that when the plane exploded at the end of 'In The Flesh', all the flames would be out upon landing at the side of the stage. But when they raised the drape between the two stages, some of the embers from the spraying pyros had lodged in the material and caught fire. The sound that we had been hearing had come from the riggers in the catwalks above the stage trying to put out this fire with extinguishers, so it wasn't anything electronic at all!"
Waters remained calm and informed the audience that the show would resume as soon as the minor blaze was under control and the drapes were flown back into the ceiling. Adds Guthrie: "Half the fans panicked and ran to the exits, and the other half were stoned and thought it was all a pretty far out part of the act! By the time they restarted the show, I could just about see the stage as the beams of light shone through the heavy, thick smoke left behind." Vision later improved as the audience was treated to the heroic sight of Gilmour, hydraulically lifted above the wall to perform "Comfortably Numb" [quite possibly my most treasured memory of any concert I have ever seen]. This scene, according to Phil Taylor, was included in the show at the express request of Waters. "When we were rehearsing, Roger decided it would be a fantastic idea if Dave appeared over the top of the wall for his vocal sections and guitar solos. He said 'You should go up on a lift and it'll look great.' I must have been laughing a little too loud, because Roger quickly turned to me and added 'And you can go up with him!' So that was me with Dave every night, crouching beside him and holding on for dear life!"
It is worth noting that the first night in Los Angeles was not the only instance where Roger Waters was forced to bring an untimely halt to a show. The
previous occasion was in July 1977 during the band's four night run at Madison Square Garden in New York City on the "In The Flesh" tour, where it was not fire but a technician's stupidity
which was to blame. Snowy White says: "Because of various union regulations in the States, we were forced to use a number of local technicians and one of the lampies didn't have a clue. He was
focusing a spotlight at Roger's feet instead of his face and body, and Roger reacted by bending down and 'willing' it upwards with his hand. After a while, he'd clearly had enough of this incompetence
and he stopped the band halfway through a song, saying, "I think you New York lighting guys are a f**king load of shit!', and we then carried on without batting an eyelid!"
WALL OF SOUND
Problems with the opening shows in Los Angeles were not confined to the legendary fire incident. Guthrie's spine tingles at the memory of receiving a whole consignment of defective Altec 15-inch woofers, which necessitated brisk replacement with Gauss 15-inch drivers. However, such recollections pale into insignificance when re-appraising what was arguably the most potent PA system of its time. Purchased by Britannia Row especially for "The Wall", in addition to a new Martin quad system, was the new Altec "Stanley Screamer" grid-flown system designed by Stan Miller, which was dubbed the Flying Forest because of its array of different sized constant directivity horns. Those fortunate to have witnessed any of these magical shows will remember the awesome sensurround experience of having low register vibrations firing up their spine. The influx of sensurround movies in the '70s, such as "Earthquake", had inspired Guthrie to suggest augmenting the PA with a system which would enhance the show's sound effects.
As well as being placed either side of the stage underneath the PA, a mixture of 16 Gauss-loaded Altec 2 x 18-inch subs and (in Europe) an unspecified
quantity of 2 x 15-inch Court DLB-1200 cabinets were positioned under seating blocks all the way around the perimeter of the arena. The cabinets were used in conjunction with a sub-sonic synthesizer
for ultra low sub-bass at several key points during the show, such as the helicopter buzz on "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" and the explosive climax when the wall came tumbling down.
Guthrie says: "That was when I pushed the fader up as far as it would go, and the whole arena literally started shaking. Anybody lucky enough to have been sitting over those sub-woofers must have
LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS
No fewer than a massive, and previously unheard of, 106 un-automated input channels (not including echo returns) were put under Guthrie's jurisdiction at front of house. Fortunately, his life was made easier by enlisting the help of assistant engineers Rick Hart, from the album mixing sessions at Producer's Workshop in LA, and Greg Walsh. "There were actually four drum kits, because Nick Mason and Willie Wilson each had a kit on both stages, and we used a colossal amount of microphones. And because Roger and Andy Bown both played bass, there had to be two bass rigs on each stage (two Altec rigs for the front stage and two Phase Linear-amplified Martin rigs at the rear). So just concentrating on the balance of the music was enough for me to think about," recalls Guthrie.
Once again at the heart of the mixing process was the famed UV-lit Midas 40-channel custom board with its central quad section. The main board, however, underwent significant repair work in between the 1980 and 1981 "Wall" shows after being damaged in a fire at Alexandra Palace. Despite the wealth of facilities offered by the Midas for the "In The Flesh" tour, it could not cope alone with "The Wall"'s demands for channels, not even with the addition of a 24-channel stretch. Williams recalls that "we just kept patching in 10-channel stretch units, ad infinitum!"
To simplify the complex mix, Guthrie devised a plan whereby Hart would look after the left side of the desk and Walsh, the right, while he mostly concerned himself with sub-groups in the middle. This triumvirate engineering formula has since become a Floyd norm.
"They would feed me whatever was playing at the time. If Dave was playing acoustic guitar, they would make sure that all of his electric guitar mics were muted, so the only thing being fed was the acoustic. I had a couple of faders that were simply for Dave's guitars and I could balance them accordingly. If I wanted to change the balance between mics, I could just reach over and do that, then return to my normal balancing act. The same regime was followed for the keyboards. Rick Hart was also flying the quad, so when different effects needed to fly around the room, he was operating the joysticks. Greg, meanwhile, was running the echo spins."
Added to the outboard racks used for the "In The Flesh" tour were several items removed from Britannia Row Studios at Guthrie's specific request. "I just added all the stuff I liked to use in the studio," he says. "We had Urei 1176 and dbx limiters, Eventide Harmonisers, Publison DDLs, and for outboard EQ, I used K&H parametric equalizers. In fact, we pretty much emptied Brit Row and stuck everything in touring racks." This also followed through for the microphone inventory. For drums, Guthrie's choice included an AKG D12 on the kicks, and 202s and 421s on toms, while vocal mics were both Shure M57s and 58s. One of the first quality radio mics, a Nady, was also used by Waters as he wandered the stage for a large proportion of the set.
Hardly surprising for someone of his background, Guthrie borrowed much from his portfolio of studio techniques for the live shows and began to work on the front-of-house mix only when he and the band were satisfied with the sound on stage. "It's my standard practice in the studio to get the sound right in the playing area first and then see what I can do to improve on it on the desk, and I was pleased to discover that it also worked well live." He even voiced the PA in the same way that he voiced studio monitors, and for this purpose, he carried with him to each venue a Revox and a quarter-inch tape of "Comfortably Numb" to play through the rig at high levels, while he listened around the arena and ran back to the mixing area to make adjustments on the graphics.
The subtractive EQ techniques for which he had gained a reputation in his studio career were also adopted for the shows. He says: "When you're dealing with PA systems which tend to squawk at you and be a little nasty, it's always a good move to start by cranking up the volume and subtracting what you don't want to hear in terms of frequencies. It always sounds more natural and I can get a much bigger sound that way. You start flat and listen to what is going on, working out if there is a problem with what you have and how you are going to rectify it. One should never EQ for the sake of it, although many people do."
Guthrie's studio experience was further called upon to achieve maximum separation between the backline amplification in a bid to improve control. He and backline head Phil Taylor placed large foam baffles either side of the guitar and bass amplifiers and keyboard Leslies, almost as if they were establishing a studio environment on stage. Says Guthrie: "We found that underneath the stage was a huge area of low frequency rumbling, which was reducing the definition of the low end, so we hung more of these foam traps down there at varying intervals and it made an enormous difference. The other thing we did was to turn everyone down on stage so the band were playing at an unusually low level. I thought they would tell me to piss off, quite frankly, but Roger was actually very supportive, because he wanted to achieve the highest resolution sound possible. It was a bit of a problem with Dave though because, like most guitarists, he needed to play at a certain volume to get the sustain and feedback, so his level would tend to creep up during the show."
Even more control was provided by the ingenious, dual purpose "hammer" flags which hung above the auditorium at Earls Court, a venue famous for
its aircraft hangar-like acoustics. A similar idea had been introduced at the Festhalle in Frankfurt during the "In The Flesh" tour, where, under Nigel Taylor's direction, the installation
of drapes was extremely effective, absorbing the spurious energy which reflected off the venue's walls and domed ceiling. This time, however, these drapes had been transformed into highly memorable
visual props. As Robbie Williams confirms, acoustic consultant Stephen Court, whose Court Acoustics business was then based in the Britannia Row complex, played a part in designing the echo absorption
traps for the London shows. Court says: "Earls Court was a massive lavatory, acoustically-speaking. I had worked with Ken Shearer who had installed the mushrooms in the Royal Albert Hall and I'd
seen how effective they had been. So between myself and the Floyd crew we had the idea to put up some flags, which in real terms acted as blankets to get rid of all the echo, and the band's artwork
team created these wonderful banners."
Positioned behind the wall, Seth Goldman ran the extensive monitoring regime with a Midas Pro 2 console for the main stage and another Midas console with Pro 2 and Pro 4 modules for when the band performed on the front stage. All the backing vocals were summed through a small Altec rack-mounted mixer. What might be described as the forerunner of in-ear monitoring was also featured in the show, as Goldman explains: "Kenny Schaffer of Schaffer-Vega built me an ingenious wireless system with Koss 240 headphones for Roger, and he got on with them really well, which probably accounts for why he was one of the first people to take up the original Garwood in-ear monitors when he did his own version of "The Wall" in Berlin in 1990."
Owing to an increase in the amount of monitoring required for this two-stage show, Guthrie states that he was often engaged in an amicable
"battle" with Seth Goldman as he tried to persuade the monitor engineer to reduce on-stage volume. "I was getting quite a bit of monitor spill into the mics, and that's where the
potential feedback was coming from," says Guthrie. "But the stage was very nicely laid out, because the wedges were facing upwards from underneath the stage with a grid on top, so you didn't
actually see any wedges from the front of the audience."
ROLL THE SOUND EFFECTS!
The sound effects used live were typically lifted from "The Wall" album masters and remixed to the Floyd quad format, which had now reverted to the diamond shape, with the points at left, right, front, and back. Also on tape were a number of instrumental and vocal enhancements. "The band played everything live," says Guthrie, "but I also played in orchestral tracks, which were remixed into quad for songs like 'Comfortably Numb' and 'The Trial', and for 'Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)' we had all the schoolkids singing. Track 8 carried the timecode, while on track 7, there was a click introduced by a count which we would start in the mixing area and would be heard by the band either through the room monitors or their headphones. They would then play in time to the animation and recorded tracks which served to enlarge the musical production. This was all done a few years before the advent of samplers, so nowadays an additional keyboard player, like Jon Carin, would play all of these extra parts from his Kurzweil keyboard."
Adjacent to the sound equipment in the mixing area were three 35mm projectors Mag-linked to two effects-loaded eight-track tape recorders. The Floyd's regular nine meter circular screen was used at the back of the stage for 35mm back projections during the first half, but once the wall was built, it acted as a giant screen for all three of the linked 35mm projectors out front for animation. Brit Row's head technician Nigel Taylor routinely battled with the unreliable pre-SMPTE synchronization of the eight-track machines and projectors. "The timecode was on the 35mm mag, and we used Mini Mag synchronizers from a company called Maglink. We had those on the album so we were able to use everything that we'd already recorded," says Guthrie. Quite simply one of the best live productions of the last 20 years, "The Wall" marked the end of what many people consider to be the definitive Pink Floyd line-up. Their professional relationship was soon to collapse in a battle between Waters and Gilmour, and the chances of the four members ever sharing the same stage again look increasingly slim. But, as their song stated, the show must go on. And so it did.
Next month: The reformation of Pink Floyd and how their most successful album was given new life for their triumphant "Division Bell" shows of 1994.
THE WALL '90
Although 180,000 tickets were sold for Roger Water's all-star, post-Floyd performance of "The Wall" on July 21 1990 in what had been the "no man's land" between East and West Berlin, it was estimated that a further 120,000 East Germans gained free entry after tearing down barriers.
Several of the Floyd's backup musicians from the original "Wall" performances of 1980 formed the basis of Water's Bleeding Hearts Band, such as guitarist Snowy White, keyboard player Peter Wood (who tragically died in December 1993), and backing vocalists Joe Chemay, Jim Haas, Jim Farber, and John Joyce; and special guests included Van Morrison, Bryan Adams, The Band, Joni Mitchell, Sinead O'Connor, and The Scorpions. Meanwhile, Michael Kamen (who also played keyboards with Pink Floyd at Knebworth three weeks earlier) conducted the Military Orchestra of the Soviet Army and the East Berlin Radio Orchestra and Choir. Britannia Row once again provided all PA services, and engineering the sound at front of house was Gary Bradshaw, while Robin Fox took care of the stage monitoring.
The 5 million pounds aimed to be raised by the concert was in aid of the Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief, a charity founded by World War II hero
Leonard Cheshire VC. Rather than rely on the helicopter sound effects heard on the original album, two actual helicopters were provided by the US 7th Airborne Corps to hover over the audience. Since
the Berlin event, Waters has seriously considered performing "The Wall" live again. "I'd love to do it in the year 2000. We did it in 1980, then again in 1990. I think it works best in
10 year cycles. I've already got my eye on the Grand Canyon as a possible venue, or somewhere equally dramatic." We'll see.
PETE CORNISH: FX GURU
March 4 1976 was the day that Pete Cornish, one of the world's top guitar amplification and effects authorities, started work on designing his first effects pedalboard for David Gilmour. And more than 20 years later, he is still assisting the band's frontman. Gilmour's first Cornish board consisted of a two guitar input selector and strobe tuner feed, while the actual effects were a Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face, an MXR Phase 100, Dynacomp and noise gate, a Uni-Vibe, Pete Cornish Custom Fuzz, and a Jim Dunlop Cry Baby. The board featured three Cry Baby sweep pedals, modified as a tone control, volume pedal, and wah-wah respectively, and three outputs with independent on/off switches allowed Gilmour's simultaneous use of any of all of his amps.
Modifications, including the addition of a Colorsound treble and bass boost unit, were made to the board for the "In The Flesh" tour of 1977, and for the same tour, Cornish made a bass effects board for Roger Waters plus an acoustic and an electric board for Snowy White. But it was "The Wall" which saw Cornish working at full stretch to build another five boards, the basis of which, for guitars, featured a Deluxe Electric Mistress flanger and Big Muff, and retained the sturdy Cry Baby pedals for volume, tone, and wah.
Phil Taylor says: "I was with the band whilst they were recording in America, and I had to work out how many pedalboards I needed for the show. I
ended up with 11, and because there were no faxes back then, I had to send drawings to Pete by express mail and discuss them with him on the phone. "We were not only adding a second guitarist,
but we also now had a second bass player who needed his own board, plus we had a complete second stage to equip and I needed another four mini pedalboards for this. I already had some spare send and
return units to cover unseen eventualities. I put it all together by working out with David and Roger exactly which effects would be needed for the songs performed on each stage, and then making the
boards as compact as possible by including only the necessary effects for each situation. Getting all those made thousands of miles away from Pete was a bit of a headache, but he is someone who can
always be relied on to deliver the goods."
THE "BRITRO" CUSTOM BRICK
Parallel to the first recording sessions for "The Wall" at Britannia Row Studios in October 1978 were the first stages in the development of
the live show concept. On December 8 1978, Mark Fisher sent to Britannia Row's Graeme Fleming a dozen "genuine Britro brand kiddie bricks", along with a covering note which explained that
"although a bit of care may be necessary to assemble them, they do form an elegant executive paperweight... when completed and interlocked." The letter was signed "M. Fisher, president,
A full Britannia Row concert system accompanied the first public preview of "The Wall" movie at the Cannes Film Festival in April 1982. Understandably, Pink Floyd were anxious that the sound quality for the world premiere at the Leicester Square Empire on July 14 should mirror the efforts which went into producing the music. It was discovered that the cinema's own loudspeakers would not cope with the demand for low frequency fidelity, and a joint decision was made by James Guthrie and Nigel Taylor to hire a more suitable bottom-ended system, namely a Court "Black Box" rig.
Stephen Court says: "It was a bit of a panic, because the Empire thought their system was more than adequate, and it was probably the best in Europe
at the time. But when we turned up for a private screening, it was embarrassing, especially when the wall came down, because the sound just completely broke up. So we very hastily threw up some Court
bass bins in the theatre, and the end result was a real first for cinema."
MISSING BRICKS: THE LOST DOCUMENTARY & LIVE ALBUM
Pink Floyd performed live for the last time with Roger Waters when they staged a final run of "Wall" shows on June 13-17 1981 at Earls Court. One of the purposes of these shows was for the filming of live footage originally intended for use in the Alan Parker-directed film of the album, which starred Bob Geldof. This live footage, however, has never been seen. Neither has a "behind the scenes" documentary on the production, filmed during the 1981 performances by lighting designer Marc Brickman, which included interviews with the band and all the key crew members. James Guthrie recalls: "Floyd's manager Steve O'Rourke was the executive producer, and it was all put together for television, but although fascinating to watch [Guthrie owns a rare edited copy], it never saw the light of day. In the archives, there are multitracks and video footage of the whole show, none of which have ever been released.
"'The Wall'" shows at Earls Court were recorded at 15 ips on 48 tracks, using two-inch analogue tape and Dolby A, and we had four 24-track Studer [two A800s and two A80s] machines overlapping to ensure the whole show was recorded without a gap. Our mobile studio didn't have nearly enough channels so we supplemented them by installing another Trident console, making room for it by removing the tape machines and putting them in an adjacent Portacabin. Unfortunately, the live recording of "The Wall" wasn't even mixed. There are numerous boxes of tapes for the original studio album, what with the sound effects and different versions of songs, and I believe Roger has possession of them all in a vault somewhere."