10 May 2010

Rogers Waters and "The Wall" - Irony Coming to a Concert Hall Near You

"So ya thought ya might like to go to the show?"

-Opening lines of Pink Floyd's "The Wall"

There is something sobering about the various warnings one receives while purchasing anything online with a credit card. In this particular instance, I was about to spend a three-digit sum on two tickets to see Roger Waters, the former singer and bassist of Pink Floyd, perform the album "The Wall" live at the XCel Energy Center. I don't remember the EXACT wording of the process, but it was something along the lines of:

"If you click 'continue,' your credit card will be charged. Do you wish to continue?"

Yes. Yes I do. Consequences be damned.

I hit the button, the screen refreshed, and I was instantly poorer. It's a far cry from the days when rock fans used to have to line up around the block, or even sleep out overnight, to get tickets to a particular show. If it had been me back then, I wouldn't have bothered. I'm famous for buying tickets (MUSE, X, Paul van Dyk, etc.) and finding reasons not to go on the day of the concert ("I'm by myself," "I just broke up with my girlfriend and need quiet time," "Parking is a hassle," "It's only Rammstein," etc.)

I don't see that happening with the Waters concert. Not only have I been obsessed with the album since 2003 (when I saw the movie and BAM! the entire thing made sense to me) but I've gone so far as to write a 10-page communications class paper analyzing the symbolism in both the music and the album art (still wish I had that!). I have a bootleg live video shot at a New York show in 1981 proving just how over the top the stage show for this album was. Even if the video an nth-generation copy and nearly unwatchable, the sheer attempt at spectacle comes through, as full-size model planes crash on stage and an entire wall is built and demolished as part of the finale.

There is a lot of irony in seeing Roger Waters bring "The Wall" back on the road. From what I've read about the band, doing the shows and the album the first time were more nails in the coffin between Waters and fellow Floyd members David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason, as Water's control of the band's direction became more unbearable. The album, with its themes of disconnection and alienation from the audience, stemmed from a 1977 incident in which Waters, burned out from the road, beckoned a fan onstage at a Montréal concert and spat in his face.

"It just became more and more oppressive," Waters recalled in a 1994 MOJO interview. "Those places weren't built for music, they were built for sporting events, and it's not unnatural to experience a ritualisation of war, because that's all sport is. What was going through my mind – my whole body – was an enormous sense of frustration, a feeling of 'what are we all doing here, what's the point?' And the answer that kept clanging back monotonously was: cash and ego. That's all its about."

Cash and ego, indeed, and good for him. Now, he's taking the irony back on the road, selling it to schmucks like me who can't resist seeing the ultimate rock and roll spectacle. And I can't wait.

No comments: