What better place to see Roger Waters’ “The Wall” than in the shadow of one of the most famous walls in American sports? By this I mean Fenway Park’s “Green Monster” the 231-by-37 foot wall in left field. Usually host to the thuds of baseballs, on Sunday, July 1, the green monster felt the much lighter impact of music notes as former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters brought his show about repression and rebellion to Boston.
I confess that I am not a huge Pink Floyd or Waters fan. This is not to say I don’t like the music, because I do, but I much preferred Paul McCartney at Fenway two summers ago. I think McCartney is the greater talent, though this is like comparing Batman to Superman: Superman may be stronger, but both are pretty awesome.
While I am partial to McCartney’s music, “The Wall” was a far superior “show.” McCartney engaged the audience with his music and song, but Waters dazzled: The Wall’s set design, pyrotechnics, laser light show, and props all gave it the feeling of a true event.
A wall of white blocks formed the centerpiece of the show. At the outset, miniature airplanes zoomed overhead and crashed into it; throughout the concert it morphed, providing a canvas onto which were projected an array of animation, visuals of Waters and his band, and other images.
Roger Waters has not lost any skill as a performer; his voice, and the crispness of the music, remain exceptional. The large and hard-to-miss downside of “The Wall”, however, is its politics.
I knew next to nothing about Waters’ personal stance before this show. It is clear that “The Wall” was, and will always be, about resistance to governmental tyranny and bourgeois culture. That aspect has been part of its enduring appeal. Still, there is a difference between the cocktail of idealism and naiveté that “The Wall” serves up and reality.
When “The Wall” crosses into the real world from the realm of art and fancy, it crumbles. At one point during the show, a giant inflatable pig was released over the crowd. Painted on the pig, among other things, was the image of “capitalism” being shot in the head, and the phrase “1 percent”, a clear reference to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
I paid $300 for my ticket ($250 for the ticket and close to $50 in fees) and had to stand most of the time, to my annoyance, while folks in the cheap seats were able to remain seated. Comfort aside, if $300 for a floor seat is not aggressive capitalism, I don’t know what is. Furthermore, I’m willing to guess that Roger Waters is firmly within “the 1 percent”.
The inflatable pig, after making the rounds, started to deflate, and fans grabbed at it until it disappeared. I don’t know if this was supposed to happen, but if not, perhaps it’s a metaphor for something…
In addition, whatever you think of George W. Bush and his Afghanistan/Iraq policies, you have to be brainless to think flashing his image next to those of Mao and Stalin is appropriate. Although I didn’t poll audience members, a feeling of “play the music and spare us your politics” seemed to pervade the crowd.
It was, after all, an older audience. Maybe 20 to 30 years ago, the politics of “The Wall” resonated with them, but the people who turned out for this show were not teens or 20-somethings anymore. They have children and responsibilities of their own. They know the truth of the world a bit better and don’t need propaganda forced on them.
Indeed, wasn’t that the original point of “The Wall” – that propaganda attempts to make you “comfortably numb,” an automaton that governments and corporations can manipulate? Has “The Wall” become what it spoke out against? Perhaps Roger Waters should read “Animal Farm”.
If you can set the politics of “The Wall” aside, it provides a wonderful evening, and Fenway Park continues to impress as a concert venue. Personally, I’ll always cherish the Green Monster, and it’s no surprise that the seemingly immovable wall built for baseball dwarfed the one that was there for only one evening.