Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Towering Blast Off The Wall at Wrigley -- Concert Review: Roger Waters: The Wall Live

Concert Review

Roger Waters
The Wall Live
Wrigley Field, Chicago
June 8, 2012

Despite the preponderance of disappointment and misery I've experienced within its often unfriendly--for the fortunes of the Cubs--confines, Wrigley Field is one of my favorite places on Earth.

I realize this might reflect a certain amount of homerism--though it's not like I'm lavishing praise on Soldier Field--but having been to 37 major  league ballparks, I genuinely believe that Wrigley, with its ivy covered outfield wall, manual scoreboard and neighborhood setting with (long since corporatized) rooftop perches, is the best, and most unique, stadium in which to watch a baseball game.

This isn't to say it couldn't use a bit of rehab, or a better team, but there are few places I would rather be on a beautiful day--or since 8/8/88, night--and although the five concerts I've now attended there are all by artists I would, and have, seen at other venues, I can't deny that being within the Friendly Confines only adds to the experience of seeing a great show. 

Last summer, I saw Paul McCartney there, twice, and though I later caught him at an arena in Paris, which was pretty damn cool in itself, the Wrigley shows were considerably more so. A Beatle was, literally, playing center field.

Later this summer, my favorite musician, Bruce Springsteen, will be there for two shows with the E Street Band, and although I've seen him 39 times at 17 different venues and would love to have the resources to see the current tour in additional locales--other than the Detroit show I caught in April--there is nowhere I'd be more excited to see The Boss than at Wrigley. I can't wait 'til September 7.

So although I had seen Roger Waters stage The Wall at the United Center in 2010, on what was then the "30th anniversary tour" of Pink Floyd's landmark album, and found the audiovisual spectacle to be extremely cool and quite enjoyable--if innately bereft of spontaneity--seeing the wall go up, and come down, in the Wrigley outfield was that much cooler.

I hadn't bothered to buy a ticket when they went on sale last year, but a little over a month ago was able to find a pair of $35 seats that were labeled as Limited View. As you should be able to see from my photos, there were really no obstructions, except for a deranged dancing lady who insisted on gyrating wildly as everyone around her sat.

Musically, as I expected, there weren't any surprises, as Waters--playing occasional bass--was backed by a mostly anonymous band who sounded strong in replicating the 1980 double album. Although they didn't make me forget that Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Nick Mason and the late Richard Wright weren't there, Gilmour's guitar solos and lead vocals on certain songs were sufficiently mimicked. On a picture perfect night at Wrigley, the 69-year-old Waters sang solidly, and acoustically I had no complaints in how The Wall was rendered.

As with the 2010 show, I felt the play-through of the album with virtually no deviation--Waters added a short coda after Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2, in honor of someone (perhaps a foreign dissident?) who had lost his life--made the evening a bit more like theater, rather than with the surprise elements and emotional heft of the best rock concerts.

Especially after the intermission, during which I was unfortunately showered from the upper deck, it was hard to focus on much nuance or subtlety of Waters' narrative regarding the album's largely autographical Pink character. Particularly with the woman acid-tripping (or otherwise loony; she wasn't just having a good time but was obnoxiously addled) in front of us. OK, so Wrigley isn't always so fantastic in terms of some of the people who go there.

And, while I don't deny The Wall's place in history as one of the five best-selling albums ever in the U.S. and one of the most memorable of my childhood, there are some parts on its second half where things begin to languish just a bit.

But if such factors prevent me from bestowing a full @@@@@ on The Wall at Wrigley, all in all it was a pretty fantastic evening, highlighted by great songs such as "Comfortably Numb" and "Run Like Hell" and a myriad of amazing visuals. 

Although The Wall has always had anti-war themes--Waters' father died World War II--on this tour Waters has brought them more to the fore to augment and modernize his tale of Pink's self-created isolation. But within the surroundings of Wrigley, I wasn't quite able to focus on them as I had in an indoor arena setting.

I also couldn't help but note the irony that--per Wikipedia--the concept for The Wall was initially hatched from Waters' hatred of playing huge outdoor stadiums on Pink Floyd's 1977 tour, and here he was recreating the album for the masses in a ballpark.

But Waters himself commented on this, noting that unlike "young Roger," he has come to cherish the mass adulation such as he received from the nearly full house at Wrigley.

Suffice it to say, I enjoyed myself. As any Cubs fan knows, 2012 is a rebuilding year (or just a lousy one). So it was metaphorically nice to have Wrigley's foundations rocked as The Wall went up in the outfield--I thought Waters missed a great opportunity to visually adorn it with ivy--despite the inevitability, given the setting, of its eventual collapse.

I took some good video, but this is someone else's clip of Another Brick in the Wall, Part II, that I found on YouTube:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Seth,

Thanks for the review.

Would you mind sharing what section and row you sat in?

I am trying to determine if certain sections of the stadium would be good for the Bruce Springsteen shows.

Any help would be appreciated!


PS: I'll check back on the blog to see your response.