No, I'm not at the Roger Waters concert tonight, but I can hear it quite clearly from my apartment over a mile away and right now "Run Like Hell" is thumping its way across a foggy San Francisco sky, probably because I live in a high-rise building with nothing really blocking the air between my windows on the eleventh floor and the stadium where the show is taking place.
I looked up the dates of the original concerts, performed by Pink Floyd of course, which I saw at the LA Sports Arena in 1980. Yes, thirty-two years ago. They were incredible shows- unlike anything else that had ever been done. I ended up going twice, partially because the mind-altering substance I took the first night caused me to disbelieve almost everything I saw, so I had to go back and confirm it. It didn't really help, because I ended taking more of the same stuff, but at least the second time I didn't think the Beatles were onstage when the wall came tumbling down.
I read on Wikipedia that David Gilmour and Nick Mason tried to talk Waters into taking the show on a more profitable tour of stadiums so they could recoup some of the cost and even make some money, but given the theme of the material- the distance and alienation between the performer and his audience, he felt it inappropriate. I guess he no longer does, and also doesn't mind charging astronomical prices that tens of thousands of fans are willing to fork over. Ah, money- it's a gas.
But this is what I don't get: out of all of the classic Pink Floyd albums, the one that doesn't stand up over time is "The Wall." In fact, more than thirty years later, I think it's self-indulgent and morbid to the point of being unlistenable except for perhaps four tracks, maybe five (all of which feature Gilmour prominently). And yet across town there are more than 30,000 people who paid hundreds of dollars to see and hear a replica of something that happened 32 years ago. Why? And why participate in something so obviously cynical? Do people really think "The Wall" is that good?
Welcome to the machine, suckers, and have a cigar. Do you remember when you were kids and you would scoff at people who went to Elvis impersonator shows or concerts featuring oldies acts? Well, surprise- you've just become the people you used to mock. You can thank Waters with your dollars for the privilege.
Now... up against the Wall!
With apologies to those who went and enjoyed it- Waters' cynicism brings out my own.