Sept. 12, 2017 – Last night I saw Roger Waters at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. So amazing! Sheer pleasure to hear the songs from my youth, especially from Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall. I bought The Wall as a double-cassette when I bought my Volkswagon Rabbit in 1981. I listened to it continuously in my car from age 16 to 18, until the tapes broke from wear and tear and a constant cloud of cigarette smoke!
I had no idea this concert would be so powerful on so many levels. The body-penetrating, mind-blowing volume of sound, the haunting music, the beauty of the guitar, and Roger Waters’ loveliness too. Most surprising was the political message. I was too young when I first heard Pink Floyd to fully understand the politicalness of the music. But last night it was very clear. This roadshow is all about empowering people to resist political leaders with the wrong agenda and to stand up for and care for each other, both locally and in the global community.
During The Wall, about 20 school girls from Brooklyn were on the stage, singing the chorus “We don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control.” At first they were in orange jumpsuit school/prison “uniforms,” which they unzipped at the end to reveal black Resist t-shirts. I was pierced with the beauty of these innocent children suddenly onstage performing, enacting the words that I listened to when I was a teenager.
Waters also acknowledged the day, which happened to be September 11. He expressed sorrow for the families of the innocents who died in 9/11, and for all the responders who worked on the site and later died of illnesses from exposure to the toxic waste. And most of all, for the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have since been killed as a result of the political response to 9/11. I was moved, heartened, and encouraged by this acknowledgement of the huge world-changing fall-out of those few hours in New York City on September 11, sixteen years ago. On the way home to my apartment in Greenwich Village I saw a giant beam of light piercing the sky, coming from the One World Tower. The Empire State Building was lit in Red, White, and Blue.
Most of all, I was moved by the fact that Roger Waters has been a political activist, raising awareness through his music, for five decades. His message about fighting authority (the teen anthem of all ages) has not changed, and it is even more relevant today. But let’s not forget the music for its own sake. Some of the most amazing, beautiful, moving, intelligent music in rock history.
The concert start was delayed due to protestors outside who were angry about Waters’ recent New York Times editorial. All backpacks were quarantined (checked) in the concourse outside the concert arena, which caused huge delays in entry, and a muddled chaotic mass of concert-goers unable to get into the hall until after the posted start time. This made me curious about the editorial, and about the issue of anti-BDS legislation, which led me to read about it, and to read some of the commentary, including an opinion written by David Schraub on the Jewish Telegraph Agency website. There are several remarkable aspects to this scenario. One is that Waters wrote the piece and it was published in The New York Times. Another is that people take it seriously enough to protest his concert. And a third is that it has raised awareness of a political issue, leading to thoughtfulness and debate. I spoke to several people out front of Barclays Center about the debate and whether anti-BDS legislation is a violation of free speech. Instead of being angry about the delays—and the claustrophobia of being told by security guards to push and clump together to get to the front (!)—people were engaged in thoughtful political discussion!
Waters ended with Comfortably Numb. I would have to say that while the temptation is to tune out what is happening in the world, Waters is doing the opposite. His message is Resist! Resist “authoritarianism and proto-fascism,” as he says in the editorial.
Wish You Were Here
Us and Them
P.S. I am back-filling entries for the months that I was too busy moving to New York to write in this blog. So the date at the beginning of the entry is the date written. The date at the bottom is used to sort the entries.