Moved by a Show

by Nook Schoenfeld
in Editor's Note
Nook Schoenfeld, Editor, PLSN
Nook Schoenfeld, Editor, PLSN

Have you ever gone to a show, and been totally overwhelmed by your senses to the point that you were actually moved? I mean, seriously touched by a performance?

There are those rare moments in life where you are just overcome by emotions of happiness caused by witnessing something that was just so spectacular it left you posing a question to the patron standing next to you along the lines of “Holy Cow, did you just see what I just saw?” I count five times in my life.

I’ve seen a thousand shows and probably lit 1,000 more. None of my work is what I would ever have called a “Moving Experience.” In fact I have been moved very rarely in my life by a stage show, but last night I witnessed a presentation that actually brought me to tears of joy, because of its unprecedented display of brilliance. And as I looked among the other LDs and guests standing in the same VIP seats, I realized I was not alone. We were all taken back. Even my wife, who I’ve never seen cry at a show admitted to tearing up five times, in the first half alone. It was that powerful.

‡‡         The First Time

The first time I was ever moved by a show was when I was 12. My mom took me to see Hair, the musical on Broadway. I had never really been impressed with musicals as a kid, but this show opened my eyes to what a modern, hippie infused musical could do to a person’s imagination. The synapses in my brain fired off signals to my adrenaline gland and I was all kinds of hopped up. The music, the colors, the costumes all had this boy’s eyes widely ajar. My mom didn’t try to cover my eyes during the nude scenes either, which of course brought out a lot of curiosity in a youngster.

‡‡         The Second Time

Ten years later, and I am a young lighting tech. I had the opportunity of a lifetime, spending a couple tours with a NYC band called The Talking Heads. Now I may be partial, but to anyone who ever saw the shows in 1982-84, they realized they witnessed something unprecedented at the time. There was more energy spent by a crowd in two hours than they had probably done all year. The building of the stage concept as the band played, music, costumes and an all-white light show were unparalleled then, and probably now.

‡‡         The Third Time

A couple years later, I caught a Prince show and was again blown away by how much energy one man had. He matched David
Byrne in funk and style, and of course brought a whole new level of theatrical lighting to stage sets. I think I watched the majority of the show with my jaw open. Roy set the bar. I mean Prince found a way to make flying in a bath tub over a stage amazing.

‡‡         The Fourth Time

Now I had been impressed with U2 since I first saw them on a club tour as teenagers. But when they came around with the “Zoo TV Tour” in 1992-1993, it changed everything. The unsymmetrical use of projection screens. The bright lights mounted in the back of East German Cars that hung in the air and moved on motors. Every song they did in that show had me wondering, “Geez, what are they going to do next?” Then they’d call the White House live from the stage. It was the most amazing show I’ve ever witnessed, and it probably ruined me for all future shows of theirs.

‡‡         The Fifth Time

But back to last night. I witnessed the magic of the legendary Roger Waters “Us + Them” tour. The design was original and something I hadn’t witnessed before. The media was driven by the message in the songs. Much of that was magical, some of it was political, and the crowd swallowed it all up. The lighting was all very theatrical, simple and conspicuously absent of any movement until the last two songs. It was brilliant at accenting the players and soloists, crowds, and didn’t force you to squint or take your eyes off the performers. Add to this the scenery with projectors and smokestacks, then end it all with one of the greatest laser effects witnessed in my lifetime.

This show will run for the next 16 months, it’s rumored. If you have a chance to be moved by one epic performance, this is it.

For Steve Jenning’s photos and text on Roger Waters’ “Us + Them” tour, CLICK HERE.

For Nook’s video introduction to the August 2017 issue of PLSN, go to http://plsn.me/201708ednote

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