Sunday, May 13, 2012

Roger Waters Builds The Wall

"I've got a little black book with my poems in.
Got a bag with a toothbrush and a comb in.
When I'm a good dog, they sometimes throw me a bone in.
I got elastic bands keepin my shoes on.
Got those swollen hand blues.
Got thirteen channels of shit on the T.V. to choose from.
I've got electric light.
And I've got second sight.
And amazing powers of observation.
And that is how I know
When I try to get through
On the telephone to you
There'll be nobody home...
The Wall in San Francisco Last Friday night I thought I'd go down to the 3rd Street Bridge by the ballpark to overhear Roger Waters in concert performing The Wall. Instead, I ended up scalping tickets and enjoying one of the most elaborate sonically and visually spectacular shows ever. The scale of it is almost unimaginable. When it was staged three decades ago, it buckled under technological limitations. These days, though, nothing seems technically out of reach. According to SF Weekly's Silke Tudor, that stacks up to, "20 miles of cable, 23 projectors, 82 moving lights, a 30-foot circular screen, a 34-foot inflatable Mother character, three pyrotechnics experts, and a 240-foot-long brick will hear everything, State-of-the-art speakers -- 172 of them -- and the natural amplifying quality of water conspire to bring the eerie refrain 'Is There Anybody Out There?' drifting across the water like a personal uncertainty." Spanning the entire width of the ballpark on Mission Bay, The Wall itself became both a vast screen and a morphing, collapsing, and exploding entity that revealed and concealed the perfomers themselves as well as the singer's emotional drama, his struggle with the starmaker machinery crossed with his father's death in WWII . Let's just say, it's complicated but compelling. Goodybye Blue Sky
You'd think it's very familiar stuff, but Waters infuses it with enough contemporary references and emphasis on the album's high craftsmanship that it not only holds up well but also dodges the classic rock albatross. I was as far up in the stands as is possible, which turned out to be a great advantage not only for taking in the 180 degree stageshow, but also the twinkling lights of the Bay Bridge, ships passing by, and Oakland glowing on the far shore. As the inevitable flying pig came floating over the crowd and after Pink's meltdown culminates in the machine gun massacre of his audience with an AK-47, a twisted logic emerges from this hoary ghost from the end of the Seventies. Its final few songs are played like a eulogy for good times gone terribly wrong. The narcissistic, lonely rock star is transformed into a damaged troubadour disgorging the black pain of his life for us who imagine it is a pretty thing and misunderstanding him completely. In the end, though, this well-trodden set is pretty, it's gorgeous and humungous; a great ancient amphora painted with our dreams, our aspirations, but filled with our anxieties and deepest dread.
I've got the obligatory Hendrix perm.
And the inevitable pinhole burns
All down the front of my favorite satin shirt.
I've got nicotine stains on my fingers.
I've got a silver spoon on a chain.
I've got a grand piano to prop up my mortal remains.
Nobody Home

I've got wild staring eyes.
And I've got a strong urge to fly. But I got nowhere to fly to.
Ooooh, Babe when I pick up the phone

[Gomer Pyle]: "Surprise, surprise, surprise..."
There's still nobody home..."

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