the wall

I grew up listening to Pink Floyd. Maybe not as much as The Moody Blues or Carly Simon, but enough that the songs are all more or less familiar to me. (After talking to my dad at dinner, I take this back. He says we listened to The Dark Side of the Moon, but he never had The Wall. I’m not sure why the songs seemed familiar.)

A while back, Computerguy asked if I would go see Roger Waters on his Pink Floyd’s The Wall tour. I asked if he’d rather take a friend. He assured me he would rather take me. I agreed to go and promptly forgot about it.

A month or so ago, my dad asked if we had something going on May 19 and if we needed him to watch the kids. I searched my brain and finally remembered. My dad was delighted to watch the kids so I could see Pink Floyd (see the first paragraph. My mom never picked the background music). (Hi Dad. Thanks!)

About a week ago, CG suggested I take a look at the Wikipedia entry for The Wall. It sounded pretty depressing to me, but at least the album seemed to have a narrative coherence I appreciated. I found his album on our network and listened to it once.

Unless I know the songs/artist really well (say, for instance, Amy Grant), I don’t get as much out of concerts as I do other performance arts. I need narrative. I use music as background–not an end in itself.

Obligatory hand-outstretched-self-portrait

Yesterday afternoon we left the kids with Grandpa and headed out. We parked for free and had an early dinner in Pasadena and then took the Metro Gold Line to the Red Line to the brand new Expo line to Expo Park and The (Los Angeles Memorial) Coliseum.* ($5 each for an all-day Metro pass+ free parking vs $25.00 to park at Expo Park. I think we did okay. Given cost of tickets and nice dinner and gas to Pasadena via Fry’s in Industry, the $15 for parking + a gallon or so of gas we saved not driving as far probably wasn’t that big of a deal, but the adventure was fun. And the final Expo Line train full of concert goers was totally fun, high energy camaraderie and excitement.)

The Wall

We found our seats and there was the stage with The Wall. That wall is something else. It’s a prop and a statement and a projection screen and…

The show is still not exactly my thing. It’s loud and depressing and angry and terribly sad. But the production was AMAZING. They projected images on the wall that went with each song. And they had large ungainly puppets in front of the wall. And singers. And an airplane that flew over the Coliseum and crashed into the wall, and at the end the bloated pig of greed balloon flying over the audience..

The Wall as projection screen

The projections were words and images and animations and short films and Waters singing and so on. It is, I must admit, an English doctor’s dream of a concert. There is SO MUCH to read. There were several Apple references (iNeed) that I noted were being eagerly photographed by Apple devices. There wasn’t much subtlety in the show, but I suppose a big event in a sports stadium** where tens of thousands of people are watching, isn’t going to be defined by subtlety.

Like this reviewer, I liked the first half better than the second, but I just don’t like loud, angry music so much, even as I am moved by his fight.

During intermission, I happened to see (in a huge sports arena with tens of thousands of audience members) a young man who had been in my class last quarter. He was totally enthusiastic and pleased. “You love Pink Floyd?” (well, my spouse does). To his friend, “This was my medieval romance teacher last quarter. See, Pink Floyd crosses the generations.” He was adorable. It was a stellar moment. Totally unexpected. What are the chances?

And once it was over we headed back to the Metro except we hadn’t been paying attention to where the station was when we came in surrounded by a train full of concert goers, and it’s so new none of the security people knew, so we got lost and wandered for an hour hoping we wouldn’t miss the last Gold Line Train to Pasadena (if necessary, we could have caught a bus). We finally found the station and rain onto the train that had just pulled in, made our transfer to Red (just missing one train and waiting for the next), ran through Union Station and made it onto the last Gold Train to Pasadena. Whew.

It was a good night. I appreciated the production even if I’m unsure I liked it, and I’m glad Computerguy shared it with me.

*Side story: By the time I was sixteen and we were living in California, I had spent half of my life overseas and the other half in some pretty out-of-the-way places. When my friends said something about the Coliseum and asked if I had been there, I got really confused because the only Coliseum I knew was in Rome, and yes, I had been there, but, had they? Anyway…

**CG and I talked about the dissonance of concerts in sports stadiums. My first experience of that was seeing Andrea Bocelli at the Arrowhead Pond. People were eating hotdogs and drinking beer from plastic cups as this tuxedo-wearing opera singer was performing. Even at this rock concert–where the dress code evidently explicitly stated jeans because everyone was wearing them–with a cheering audience more like a sporting event, there was a weirdness about the vendors in the stands offering popcorn, peanuts, and churros throughout the production. So concerts in stadiums are weird and then the corporate-ness of stadiums juxtaposed specifically with Roger Waters is weirder as his anti-corporation message is almost as strong as his anti-government one. At least the Coliseum is still the Coliseum and not the Shell Center or some such. Would Waters have refused a so-named venue? Regardless, there is very much corporate sponsorship going on even at the Coliseum.

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One Response to the wall

  1. Terri says:

    When I went to concerts in the 1970’s and 1980’s there were never vendors, not hot dogs or popcorn. There was plenty of *stuff* being smoked and probably beverages snuck in…so I can understand why vendors would feel odd. I was never a big fan of Pink Floyd although my brothers were. I did listen to a lot of Led Zepplin. But mostly I was into Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young…that genre. I also love bluegrass. Now I listen to a lot of alternative rock, influenced by my grown kids.

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