Tag Archives: Scissor Sisters

So ya thought ya might like to go to the show?

24 Jun

It’s taken me more than two weeks to recover from watching Roger Waters’ The Wall at the Joe Louis Arena, and not just because I finally shook off the contact high from the pot-laced stogie the guy sitting in front of us was passing around to his buddies throughout Act II.

The show was thrilling, eye-popping, visceral and awe-inspiring. The animation, both from the 1982 film version and the new stuff, was sharp and ominous. At 68, Roger Waters is in fine voice and in full command of the piece. And even though it took two men (Dave Kilminster on lead guitar and Robbie Wyckoff on vocals) to fill in for David Gilmour, the overall sound was as dense and dramatic as the original recording.

When the show came to the Palace of Auburn Hills last fall, by the time I looked into getting tickets they were well above our price point. “The only way we’ll be able to afford it is if I sell a kidney,” my teenaged daughter lamented, adding, “and it would have to be a kidney full of heroin.” Given that Mr. Waters made a gazillion dollars on the 2011 leg of the tour – fans having ponied up numerous kidneys full of heroin, no doubt – he saw fit to cross the US again this year. This time, Santa Claus got us tickets as our big present last December.

Sting in 1979 … attractive even when you can’t see his biceps

Opera, rock or otherwise, usually bugs me. No matter how beautifully performed or lavishly staged, the story rarely makes any logical sense and so the emotional wallop evades me. As much as I love to listen to Tommy, thematically it’s a mess. Its symbolism is either trite or opaque: what exactly was pinball supposed to mean anyway? Quadrophenia works a lot better for me because it wasn’t so symbolic and I could follow the basic thread of the story, with a little help from Wikipedia. It’s not as audacious as Tommy, though, so I’m not sure it would benefit from being staged. (Never saw the 1979 movie version, even though it was Sting’s film debut.)

The Wall, however, has never failed to fascinate and unnerve me in all formats. When I bought it in 1979, I’d shoo my parents out of the living room where our stereo system was so I could memorize the double LP with the door closed and the lights on. When I saw the film in college, I was so freaked out by it I spontaneously shrieked on the way home to my dorm. Even the Scissor Sisters’ doomsday disco cover of “Comfortably Numb” is unsettling.

Roger Waters accompanies a 1981 film of himself singing “Mother” as it’s shown on The Wall behind him

It started as Waters’ statement about alienation in the face of stardom. Now it’s morphed into alienation in the face of pretty much every aspect of modern life: totalitarianism, warfare, politics, marriage, education, commercialism, even helicopter parenting.

Thirty-three years after it was released, the music of The Wall is still scary, still alluring and still incredibly beautiful. It encompasses why rock music was invented: to rail against what is and demand that there be something better.

Now, please enjoy a snippet of the 1990 concert version of The Wall, staged in the former no-mans land where the Berlin Wall had stood eight months earlier. Waters and his Pink Floyd bandmates were on the outs, so he was the only one of the four to appear. He more than made up for it by casting an eclectic and inspired cast of musicians, including Sinead O’Connor and three-fifths of The Band, who performed “Mother”:

See you on the flip side …

Pop Rocks

22 May

Not long ago, I got a text during school hours from my older daughter. Here’s the actual exchange, taking all of 30 seconds:

I’m glad they don’t have a Thor donut … I bet you’d find long blond hair in the icing


Because if we eat them we will be as large as the Hulk


I shudder to think what the fillings are …


Go back to class dear …


And please stop shouting …

This is not dissimilar to a text I received a few days later:

How can so much fabulousness be contained in just one band?


In both cases, she was alerting me to something outrageously colorful and fantastically delicious we both adore that, sadly, I have to say “no” to. See, we can’t go to the Scissor Sisters‘ concert because already have tickets for another show that evening: The Hives, who are touring with a new album and making a stop in Pontiac.

Two great bands both playing the same night within a few miles of our leafy Michigan suburb … this is a good example of a First World Problem.

My daughter and I are pretty stoked to see our punky friends from Scandinavia. I had seen them on David Letterman several years back and was impressed by their sound–screaming, bouncy garage rock–and their look–all dressed the same, always in black and white. And what great stage names, although I do wonder how “Howlin’ Pete Almqvist” and “Nicholaus Arson” sound in Swedish. Once “Tick Tick Boom” exploded over a montage of action movies at the 2009 Academy Awards, we became avid fans. We got a copy of Veni Vidi Vicious and settled in to listen to the album. Thirty minutes later, it was done. The Ramones are a jam band by comparison.

The best thing to come out of Sweden since Ikea meatballs …

But it’s killing us that we will miss our flamboyant friends from New York for the second time. When Scissor Sisters came to town two years ago between tour stops on Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball tour, we stayed home to watch the Oscars instead. I figured we were substituting one gay-friendly entertainment experience for another, but it was hardly an even exchange. (The 2011 Academy Awards, hosted by dissolute James Franco and overeager Anne Hathaway, was so terrible they did the impossible: screw up the In Memorium segment.) I’m still kicking myself.

Scissor Sisters burrowed into my brain in the summer of 2004, when “Take Your Mama” came out, rainbow flag a-flying. The song sounds like it was crafted by Elton John in full-feathered regalia: truly groovy and unforgettable. As colorful as The Hives are monochrome, the band’s showmanship and style ensures their concerts are a hoot and a half … not that I’d know from personal experience … kick, kick, kick …

There may be hope. My daughter raised a good point: if The Hives’ concert is as short as their albums, perhaps we can do both shows in one night.

If you’re seeing The Hives on June 27, see you there … and if you’re seeing Scissor Sisters that night, tell me all about it!

See you on the flip side …

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