Classic Albums Live: ‘The Wall’ note-for-note Saturday at Victoria Theatre



Rob Phillips, part of the Classic Albums Live team presenting Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” at Victoria Theatre in Dayton on Saturday, is no stranger to live recreations of iconic studio recordings. While attending Vanier College in Montreal, he and some classmates performed live versions of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by the Beatles and Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon.”

“Some of us music students got the idea of doing ‘Sgt. Pepper’ from beginning to end,” Phillips said recently, speaking by phone from Toronto. “Unfortunately, our guy who sang ‘Sgt. Pepper’ back then was a French Canadian Axl Rose enthusiast so it was not quite up to the standards of Classic Albums Live. The semester after that, we did ‘Dark Side.’ For me, that turned into the band Eclipse. We played mostly around Quebec for over 10 years. Nineteen years ago I hooked up with Classic Albums Live and I’m still here.”

No gimmicks

Craig Martin, who still leads Classic Albums Live, founded the project in 2003. The Toronto-based outfit recreates full-length albums such as the Eagles’ “Greatest Hits,” “Synchronicity” by the Police and AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” Unlike many similar shows, the performers don’t wear period outfits or employ high-tech stage effects. The focus is on note-for-note recreations of the material as it was originally recorded.

“The whole vibe of Classic Albums Live is that it’s not a tribute band,” Phillips said. “There are no costumes. We won’t be building up the wall. There are no floating pigs or anything like that. We’re going to perform the album. It will be just like listening to ‘The Wall’ at home or going to see an orchestra. We’ll perform the album beginning to end.

“We take a break after the first disc,” Phillips continued. “So, after ‘Goodbye Cruel World,’ there is an intermission and then we do the second half of the album. We do a song or two at the end but it’s a double album so that’s a full show.”



The source material

British rock band Pink Floyd made 15 studios albums between 1967 and 2014. Many of them were thematic like “The Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) and “Animals” (1977) but none had the narrative structure of the double LP rock opera “The Wall” (1979). As conceived by Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters, the story concerns a troubled rock star who constructs a psychological wall to protect himself from the pressures of fame.

The album was a critical and commercial success upon its release, topping the Billboard album chart for 15 weeks. It is one of the top selling rock albums of all time in the United States and was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year. A film adaptation was released in 1982. The psychological thriller was directed by Alan Parker from a screenplay by Waters. The live action film, which starred Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats in the lead role, also had segments with surrealistic animation.

Phillips, who discovered Pink Floyd in his mid-teens, considers “The Wall” one of the group’s highwater marks. However, for him, there is one song that rises above the rest.

“I never get tired of playing ‘Comfortably Numb’ and I’ve been playing it since 1992,” Phillips said. “It’s always a high point. I can see why it’s consistently rated the number one guitar solo of all time. It’s great. To get to stand in front of my amp and play that solo and get that feeling is incredible. It’s funny, they say the pedals don’t make the sound, but when you play the solo the right way and you get the right pedals, it’s that extra little, ‘Oh, yeah.’ That subtle little difference is actually big once you put it in the right place.”

Avoiding monotony

Since joining CAL in 2005, Phillips has recreated dozens and dozens of popular albums by acts like Queen, the Beatles, Radiohead and the Who.

“A lot of us have done more than 60 albums,” he said. “Some we tried out like Aerosmith’s ‘Toys in the Attic.’ We might have only done it three times because it wasn’t really a show that took off. Some shows will come around again. In the beginning when we were doing ‘Hotel California,’ that really wasn’t one people came out to a lot. We kept it in the schedule and now it’s one of the big ones.”

Variety is the name of the game for the musicians involved with CAL. Albums from Billy Joel, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Led Zeppelin and the Police are on the horizon.

“We did ‘The Wall’ and ‘Dark Side’ last week,” Phillips said. “The week before that we did the Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’ in New York. We did two Supertramp albums before that. We did ‘Breakfast in America’ in Arizona and ‘Crime of the Century’ in Canada. I have the Eagles’ ‘Greatest Hits’ coming up this weekend. It’s been a pretty eclectic month, but we like it that way.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or


What: Dayton Live presents Classic Albums Live: Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”

Where: Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Cost: $25-$35

More info: 937-228-3630 or

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