So I went to see Roger Water´s show, A Brick in the Wall, a couple of weeks ago. This is a HUGE musical event, I must say, tickets went on sale last AUGUST (if you can remember back that far), sold out in minutes and several dates were added, for a total of some 7 or 8 shows in BA, the most of any stop on the tour. BA is also a unique venue because the shows are taking place at the River Plate stadium, without a doubt our biggest venue, capable of holding some 50,000 people (that really depends on who is at the door, I saw the Jonas Bros there with MM some time back and it was SO oversold it was dangerous, I spent half the show worrying about a teen-stampede, but that´s another story).
Anyway, Roger Waters, really big deal, built scenery for this show (The Wall that doubles as the best movie screen ever) and it seemed like a must-see event. My darling M bought our tickets for my birthday last year and we had been looking forward to it for ages. I knew we had good spots, though I didn´t know where they were until we arrived at the stadium and I realized the WHOLE ENTIRE INFIELD WAS COVERED WITH PLASTIC CHAIRS! Yes indeed, this was a sitting room only show, ladies and gentlemen. No dancing, no jumping, no shouting, little fistpumping and about 10,000 people seated in these cheapo plastic chairs watching the last coherent member of Pink Floyd perform what has got to be one of, if not their most popular works, from a plastic chair.
Now, I should perhaps interject a couple of details before ranting any further here. I love music and I particularly love live music. I work for a record label (there, I said it and no, you haven´t heard of it, its local though no, we don´t do Latin music, more about that another day). I go to between 15 and 20 shows a year and wear crappy sneakers because you know you are going to get stepped on and jumping up and down next to people you don´t know while you share sweat with them is perhaps my favorite aspect of the concert experience. NONE, I repeat, NONE of these activities were possible at this event.
Now the craziest (to me) bit of all of this was that it seemed like NO ONE else in the audiience shares my concerns. All around in their fellow plastic chairs, folks 15 years older and perhaps also 15 years younger then lil ole me stared fixedly at the screen/wall and the man himself. Roger, who like so many well preserved celebrities is excellent in small doses but after spending three weeks putting on shows here, has now become too much of a good thing. Too many “this is my good angle” press shots, a little too much botox for my taste in an older man, too many Rivers and way too much hype.
To put it bluntly, much like another brick in the wall, I felt like another ass in a chair. Not even close to the singing, chanting, swaying experience I was expecting, I must say.
I do believe that Roger dealt the final blow to any esteem I might still have had for him in the winter of his career at his last show, this past Monday. This was the one show of this stop on the tour without an infield full of crap chairs, with an actual “campo” as we call the standing room only here. One of my colleagues attended, a man who is a musical encyclopedia and a decent producer and superb rock journalist, and he knew something was up when he was handed a face-mask at the door, a carboard cutout of the emblematic cartoon that you can´t really see here:
You know, the little white figure with X´s for eyes. Right before the house lights went off, a young woman came on over the loudspeaker and asked the audience to help Roger, as they were fortunately enough to be part of the FILMING OF THE DVD!!! Would everyone please put their masks up to their face, lookforward, look left, look right, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. My friend was disgusted. Was the great Roger Waters and his massive production team really requesting a stadium full of spectators to wear his mask and dance to his beat for the benefit of his next spin-off product, a musical DVD? I mean, not only did I watch the movie in 8th grade music class (THANK YOU SO MUCH, Mr. Carter!!) but I listened to the album, bought the lyrics, sang along and wanted to bust out against authority figures as much as the next person, only to see the guy live and be told to sit down and shut up or stand and dance????? What the hell happened?
All I can say, Roger, in the words of another major long running musician who died doing something a hell of a lot closer to what he started out doing than you will, and in my book has now clearly outclassed you, “What a long strange trip its been…….”