Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Don't let the might of the religious right fuck it up for you and the rest of the world. (Pink Flyd – Lima, Peru)

As I watch a 25 ft pink pig float over me with a bunch of Spanish words that I don't understand on it (aside from "stop bush" on the ass and "Kafka rules"), I am struck dumb by the surreal land that I find myself in. Shocking that in 50 some odd hours I have gone from sitting above the holiest place that I have ever been to in waking life to an outdoor stadium 11,000 feet lower, 750 miles away seeing one of the creators of one of, if not the most influential bands of my life.

I arrived in true fashion: 40 mins late. Expecting traffic, I had given myself extra time by a factor of 3 over the expected travel time, but my good friend Juan didn't show at the pre-arranged spot and it took a bit to get sorted out with a cab that I trusted.

This new "friend" was a "friend" of the doorman at my hotel and showed up in a sedan with a steel cage built up around the driver. (A lot of my observations will seem simplistic to anyone who has been in South America, but I make them all the same :) It was an interesting approach to cabbie safety.

Ah the traffic. Brutal. Only a million cars randomly traveling in a sort of straight line between me and my goal. I felt like I was part of some strange migratory orgy of pollution spewing vermin.

I knew we were getting close to the show as the people in cars around me started to get a more and more desperate look in their eyes and driving seemed to become even more erratic and panicked if that’s even possible.

My cabbie started speaking very fast and it became clear that plans were going to change somewhat. He was saying that his car couldn't go any further, that the stadium was close, that he was going home and that I would have to walk. I missed the "companion" word in his 100% Spanish diatribe but I thought I got what he was saying and I said OK. His house was very nice, but it was time to get the hell out of there. Although I am trying to take it a bit slower and I have been 100% successful thus far, my patience was getting a bit thin. He kept gesticulating that we were close, but for all I knew we weren't even in the right district let alone walking distance from suburbia to the concert. Things worked out in the end though, and after a 15 minute brisk walk we finally made it to the goal.

(Recurring theme - It was totally irresponsible of me to have not learned even a bit of Spanish before going on this trip)

The show had started on time, which I somehow thought (hoped?) wouldn't have been the case.

The first Pink Floyd sound I heard was part of The Post War Dream. It made me a bit sad as the Final Cut is my all time favorite album. I guess in the end I was there to see Dark side of the Moon, but I was wistful to what I may have missed thus far.

The seat was awesome and the venue itself was incredibly small. In my minds eye I had pictured a massive world cup style stadium somehow. I sat in the second to last row of the VIP section, slightly stage left. The venue itself wasn't actually in "Explanda Estadio Monumental" as I had surmised, but outside and nearby. This show didn't sell out by what I see as a long shot. This isn't the richest country in the world and I bought the third most expensive ticket to be had (175 USD). I can't imagine how much it cost to get the pyro, the visuals and the talent into this country, So I guess they need to charge a fair penny to make it viable. However, I did not run into or overhear a single English conversation. Really - I was a bit surprised. I thought this place would be overrun with gringo tourists and English speaking expats.

Just before a 15min break, the giant pig came floating over the audience. They let it go (another thing that wouldn't be allowed in North America). It took at least 10 minutes for the graphitized pig to disappear out of sight. Everyone in the place kept staring up into the sky as the prop made its exit. I would love to be able to read the Spanish headlines when it is found in some farmer’s field or wrapped around the windows of the next passing airplane. I love developing nations for a number of reasons (and dislike them for the same number). Stuff like this makes me smile. We are so "safe" back home.

Roger Waters brought all of his Quadraphonic madness out for this show. I can't count how many times I saw the whole section in front of me turn to the right to see why there was an ambulance, barking dog, or whispering in their ear. The visuals were equally good and appeared 3D at times.

It was an impressive recreation of the album, but with sufficient live'izms that made it a special time to be there. Simply the best concert I have ever witnessed.

I actually cried during On The Run. Pull out your albums, throw on your headphones and turn it up loud. People may argue, but I think I was in a section that the sound engineers designed for. Acoustically perfect or at least the closest that I have heard. I am generally fierce in my criticisms of sounds and soundstage design, but jesus was this good. (I know what you are thinking and I wasn't - I swear). There has never been a more immersive or purely electronic sound. (and you know that I've been in the odd club with a reasonable sound system or two)

The gospel in The Great Gig in the Sky was superb.

One of the problems with knowing the set list before you go to a concert is that you know when the last song of the regular set is being played. A laser prism rotates over head, with a white light into one side and a composite rainbow laser come out of the other. On the massive screen behind the band a grainy black and white moon with a complex meteor field rotates. One of the meteors slowly comes to the fore and is actually a very wet looking brain slowly spinning. The brain fades and a single pill rotates end over end coming towards the audience until you can read the word "SOMA" written on it. It continues to grow and slowly rotate eventually splitting in the middle (a la Tylenol Cold and Sinus) and little brain particles come out of it and slowly meander around looking quite wet and smart. Rinse; Repeat. Pyro explodes everywhere. There are no more lyrics. I feel empty and a little bit panicked.

Surprisingly little rhythmic clapping and a rousing round of "Olé Olé Olé Olé”, "Olé.... Olé...." is all it takes for them to come back. Not an out and out cry, but a tear to the eye as Another Brick on the Wall – Part II rolls into Vera Lynn into Comfortably Numb. Who in this world can pull out an encore that big (and from the same album to boot)? You might argue 3. Didn't ever think that I would hear these songs live. Nice.

I am unable to separate how I am feeling and where my head is at versus the pure merit of this event as a concert. (He is in Toronto in July? so maybe some of you can judge). Some of my feelings toward this can be attributed to the venue. When you are gazing out of the misty outline of mountains in shades of nighttime grey to be snapped forward just in time to see the blaze and feel the heat from a massive 40' fire storm to the left and right of the stage you tend to give some bonus marks. Not a single person is speaking my language, and it feels somehow exotic. I might be a little biased. I am also actively seeking meaning and experience in everything that I am doing on this trip, so maybe this was just another stupid cover band (but I really don't think this is the case).

I left when everyone else in place did and it was pretty chaotic. I started sticking my head into passing cabs with people in to see whether or not they wanted to share the ride. I wanted to offset cost and there is strength in numbers. Found a ride with someone who was headed in the right direction. He got dropped off about half way (just before the cab ran out of gas and I had to push it into the petrol station - lucky bastard). Back to the hotel at about 1:30am.

These photos are not mine. I wasn't sure what I was going to be getting into so I didn't want to bring a camera. I couldn't run the risk of being told that I couldn't bring it in, but in retrospect it was ludicrous and naïve of me. There were some serious cameras there and everyone seemed to have one. Should have brought my old cell phone to at least grab a couple of grainy snaps, but I don't think it is a big deal as Youtube will soon have anything that I would have been able to pull off and then some. Did bring one of those disposals which broke after 6? frames. I am not sure I will even get it developed. There were some good shots that I would have liked to capture: The mad exodus of smiling faces, the throng of folks huddled around smoky street-meat goodness etc.

All things said, for the first time in a long time I finally feel like I have nothing to complain about and things are starting to exceed my expectations by a _long_ shot.

Quite a night.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mikey- never replied to a blog before-like talk radio- long time listener- first time caller! Your e-journal is really , what should I say- interesting- I shall look forward to your postings- As your mother and I have taken extensive Spanish lessons- the translation of the writing on the pig is" all Peruvians are equal-do not discriminate!" or " free pizza at Iquales"
    So some guy wrote: and all I ask is a tall ship and a star (or GPS) to steer her by and the wheel's kick and the wind's song... Here's to your adventure!