My, What a Big Wall You Have!

May 25, 2012 at 11:33 am (Cosmic Encounters)

In all, Gomer Pyle got the biggest laugh.

After 32 years, I finally saw The Wall performed live. Back in 1980, freshly married, (so my mother could babysit our daughter with a clear conscience, no sins involved) the Ex and I attempted to hitchhike to Los Angeles as a honeymoon. We missed the show, but the album was seared into our conscious, subconscious, and the several layers of other consciousnesses we were striving to attain.

Getting Hammered

I’ve seen Roger Waters live. I’ve seen Pink Floyd live. But not Pink Floyd with Roger Waters. It’s difficult being an angry genius. It seems now Roger and his lawyers have come to an agreement with the Floyd that we can all just get along. While this was hardly a Floyd reunion, it could be called the biggest, best tribute band ever.

There was only one person I considered buying a ticket for: my little sister. She was front and center when the album came out, and stood by as her 19-year-old brother ventured into the cosmos to feel that warm thrill of confusion, that space cadet glow. She babysat, chaperoned, paid for things when we were broke as fuck, and was always there with a smile and a caring heart. Nothing has changed there. We don’t get to do much together, so I determined our combined Xmas and birthday presents would be to attend. I bought tickets way back in October. Finally, the day arrived.

32 years ago, alcohol and LSD would have been involved in any kind of Floydian adventure. We’ve come a long way, baby. My liver is on crutches, and Sis has had her issues. LSD has been put aside. (I’m not saying never again, but I think I’ve mined that glorious hole for all its worth.) Since the dawn of The Medical Age, us old folk are doing just fine with the cannabis. Edibles have stomped my alcoholic urges into smithereens, and a couple puffs of bud are all it takes to achieve nirvana. Or become a stoned temple pilot. So we ate cupcakes and took bong hits at Meg’s before crossing the river to the show.

Our path was enlightened, compared to many co-attendees. Everywhere I looked was a fat guy in Docker shorts clutching two beers. The opening explosions of In The Flesh had three such fellows standing in front of us. Ach! Stand still, laddy! All through the show we were up and down as the two-brew crew refilled their Dixie cups with $8 piss-beers. To be fair, they were nothing like most drunken jackasses at shows. It just seemed that at every cool part there was a hammerhead standing in front of me, sloshing.

Hopefully they were drunk enough not to notice the trickles of water running down my face. Is it hot in here or what? Man, my allergies are acting up tonight. Goddammit, I hate bawling in public. The album stepped on every raw nerve, and hit just as hard as it did 32 years ago. Fuzzy memories of failed marriages, visions of my daughter and my new grandbaby. I wish I could have brought her, too. (Daughter, not grandbaby. If Roger is still touring at 82, I will take grandbaby as well.) The darkness, but not the tears, ebbed as Another Brick In The Wall part 1 did its helicopter thing. Soon the stage was filled with local school children, cowering then fighting back at a 30-foot tall Schoolmaster marionette. To laugh and cry at the same time can be a magical thing. I’d just about finished puddling up when footage aired of Desert Storm soldiers returning to surprise their children at school. Goddammit! I don’t think I brought enough Kleenex…

I also saw a LOT of 50-year-old men with their 30-year-old sons. (Do the math.) “Son, this is the album we were listening to the time your mother and I-” “Dad! Eww!” I was lucky. My kid came out a month before the album did.

Being a concert veteran has its advantages. As the last notes of Goodbye Cruel World chimed, I made a break for the bathroom. When I emerged from the stall with smuggled smokables more attainable, the line had grown into the hundreds. (Timing is everything!) All those two-fisted light beer lovers achieved bladder-max at the same time.

Taking a puff-break was next to impossible. The usher, a matronly woman of about 69 with granny glasses and hair in a bun, stood ten feet away and knew all the best puff-moments. Grr… Thank the cosmos for cupcakes. I glanced at Sis, she was grinning ear-to-ear anyway.

The second act was balls-out spectacular. The Pig made an appearance, floating in all his horny glory over the main floor. Plane crashes, flash pots, Pink’s German girlfriend. (Also a 30-foot tall marionette.) The music was spot-on; the only moment of possible improvisation came during the aforementioned Another Brick In The Wall, which harkened back to glorious jamming days of the Original Floyd. The rest was treated as a classical work of art, and if it was pre-recorded? Who fucking cares? It was the most professionally perfect presentation of a piece of music I have ever witnessed, and the money-shot came during Nobody Home, when Gomer Pyle says, “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!” It was a quiet moment, and you could probably hear me laughing all the way to the stage.

It took two men to cover David Gilmour’s moment in the spotlight. Comfortably Numb did not disappoint. I speed-dialed Meg, held my phone up for about a minute, then said, “I can’t hear a fucking thing! Hope this makes sense…”

A few seconds later, I received a text from her. “I heard!” I’d been sending texts and pics to both her and Rain. Rain responded by sending me flirty texts and pics I couldn’t share with Sis.

The Wall crashing down was as cool as you’d think. As was the show. I was disappointed when I saw the stage upon entering the arena; is that all? Like other things in life, it gets bigger and bigger before it just explodes and collapses. Yes, that is a sexual metaphor. By the end, I was emotionally exhausted and completely satisfied.

And smiling ear-to-ear.

60 Minutes has touted this show as The Concert Of The Year. Anyone coming close has their work cut out for them.

Thank you Roger, for writing the soundtrack to my life.

At least the early years…


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