Saturday, October 17, 2009

Earlier in the week, Jeff asked whether I would be interested in hearing The Wall at NJPAC. I said why not. So he got to work ordering the tickets online and I arranged for a babysitter. Complicated? Not really, just one more thing to do.

So we drove up there last night and Route 21 is stop-n-go. Jeff says it always is; it's his commute. Just as we turned into the NJPAC plaza, I could see his building, the 550 building. Parking was convenient and we crossed only one street to enter the venue. There was also a hockey game going on. Our seats were second mezzanine, I think. The hall filled slowly as most people were gathered in the lobby. I saw only one Pink Floyd t-shirt, from The Dark Side of the Moon. There were modestly more men in attendance than women, perhaps 3-to-2. And a number of children, pre-teens. I saw no harm in that.

When the band walked on, the audience erupted and I thought, "Easy crowd." But I discovered rather quickly the applause was warranted. They warmed up a bit but the audience was impatient for the show to begin. I was trying to recall how the album begins but when they played the quiet melody that is also heard at the end, I remembered and the first two sides flowed from memory very well. When I saw the female soloist, I thought to myself, "Oh, wouldn't she be perfect for "Great Gig in the Sky," and, in fact, she performed that in the first encore. It was exactly perfect. Note for note, as the playbill says.

A school choir of about 15 children walked out for "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II" to shout the protest. You could see they just loved it. They were sassy and I hoped they understood what they were saying. Not likely.

Side Two is the sleeper side, in my opinion. It doesn't contain any significant hit singles, except for maybe "Young Lust." And, in general, if I didn't happen to know the lyrics, I don't think I would have understood what they were saying. Except, in a few instances, phrases that I've never been able to make out, like someone shouting "Don't do't again," I heard clearly for the first time. The woman who later performed "Great Gig" did the operator's part at the end of "Young Lust" but she didn't quite hit it right. And if you didn't happen to know who was calling whom, you'd have missed it. But another vocalist did the groupie that introduces the next song, which I can't help but see as Bob Geldof from the movie. And maybe because it's the sleeper side, it is my favorite side.

During the intermission, men checked the score of the Yankees game. The entire hall light up with the glow of handheld screens. Jeff got me a soda because I'd received the initial dose of the H1N1 vaccine in nasal mist form earlier in the day and I was beginning to suffer some symptoms. Mostly sneezing and nasal congestion with a sore, swollen throat. It didn't really bother my enjoyment of the show and I was trying to remember how Side Three begins. Everyone was calling for "Comfortably Numb" so I began to think it started the side. But, in fact, it closes the side and "Hey You" starts the side. I do remember that Vera Lynn was in the news recently, significantly to me. And "Comfortably Numb" which everyone was so clearly waiting for, brought down the house. I had heard "Comfortably Numb" on the radio recently and was reminded of how much Gilmour guitar it features. This band had someone of whom Gilmour should have been worried, both in his playing and his singing.

It seemed to me that they played a couple extra introductory measures to "In the Flesh" and I began to fear that they were going to censor the bigoted slurs that make up much of the lyrics. But I just wasn't remembering it correctly. For the record, no one was smoking a joint in the hall but Jeff said he smelled it outside. This is a clip from the movie with Geldof performing.

I like "Run Like Hell," always have, but I sensed that a few people in my vicinity were done listening. They'd heard the song they wanted and it was good. They were going to bide their time until the promised encore and call out for "Money." I believe some special effects were fed in, like background sounds from old movies. There was a man, stage left, who sang some parts (mostly Roger Waters parts) but was also something of a foley artist on sound effects. Breaking glass, heard often enough, that sort of thing.

But as "Run Like Hell" began, I didn't see anyone playing their guitars and I came close to suspecting that that winding guitar sound was also piped in. Jeff thought, on the contrary, someone was performing that sound. I don't know. He's usually right about those things.

And the foley artist used a megaphone to sing "Waiting for the Worms", so I still have no idea what is said after the published lyrics run out (includes an attempt at deciphering the inaudible).

For "The Trial" scene, one almost needs to know the movie scenes to understand who's talking. The Gilmour impersonator did all the voices, even the Judge. Very good. I've never heard this song on the radio, that I can remember. And I got a sense of how rushed the ending is and how the entire album doesn't really hold together very well. Jeff and I had already discussed during the intermission that we can listen to this album but it isn't our favorite Pink Floyd album by any stretch. It's probably our least favorite but it still ranks above many other albums. We also speculated what other albums this group might perform. We came up with some Zeppelin and Jeff offered "Yes," to which we both shuddered. We looked at their web site and they're going to do The White Album in April, so even though Jeff isn't a huge Beatles fan, he said he'd take me.

And I had to admit that the ending lyrics are very corny but I like them:

Outside the Wall (Waters)

All alone, or in two's,
The ones who really love you
Walk up and down outside the wall.
Some hand in hand
And some gathered together in bands.
The bleeding hearts and artists
Make their stand.

And when they've given you their all
Some stagger and fall, after all it's not easy
Banging your heart against some mad bugger's wall.

"Isn't this where...."
Their encore, I alluded to above: "Great Gig in the Sky" and "Have a Cigar." Then a second encore of "Wish You Were Here" (yeah, he cleared his throat, on cue). These are all favorites and I knew it didn't do any good to shout out "Money" - that's like shouting "Free Bird" to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Jeff said he doesn't really like "Money" except for the bass line. I knew their encore was already set and practiced and it was what it was. But those songs are all favorites. Jeff would have liked to hear "Welcome to the Machine," but that warbling sound at the beginning is probably difficult to produce live. It's even darker than their other music.

And, well, the babysitter was asleep when we got home at 11:30 but so were all the kids, soundly, so that's ok.

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