Pink Floyd is one of those bands that rouse strong opinions. In the pantheon of great bands they rate pretty highly, and their advocates are generally a pretty passionate lot. I would include myself in that number, and have for many years had a very particular view of what Pink Floyd was.
The history of the band can be divided into three stages. The first is Syd Barrett, the legendary frontman who led the band through the late sixties when they were an art rock, psychedelic band. He’s more famous now for his drug taking and subsequent mental problems, but as a musician he had a profound impact on many muso’s. In the end his mental problems led to him stepping down from the band to become a virtual recluse before dying a few years ago. He remains an enigmatic character.
Dave Gilmour replaced Barrett and while he had a major influence on the band with his distinctive and virtuoso guitar play and vocals, this became the era of Roger Waters. The other band members may dispute that, perhaps with good reason, but it was also an admitted cause of their eventual split. It became too much Roger Waters, and not enough Pink Floyd.
I can understand that argument. Every member of the band was a talented musician, and every one of them contributed something of real substance, most notably on what is their most famous and successful album 'Dark Side of the Moon'.
Regardless there is no doubt that Waters became their guiding force. He was a highly intelligent and intense man capable of writing lyrics that were both poetic and scarifying and sometimes bitter. At the same time he was capable of coming up with absolutely compelling hooks. Listen to Money and the absolutely classic bass line that drives it relentlessly forward (Waters was the bass player).
This is their classic era, filled with great albums and fantastic songs. Albums 'Dark Side of the Moon', 'Wish You Were Here', 'The Wall', even 'The Final Cut', are some of the best ever made. This is the Pink Floyd most people know, an era and generation defined by their distinctive music. For mine their two greatest songs are "Money" (great lyrics as well as great hook), and "Comfortably Numb", which I think is one of the great songs, with potentially the greatest guitar solo in history Dave Gilmour playing his trade. But then there are songs like "Wish You Were Here", "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" (both inspired by Barrett), "Us and Them", "Welcome to the Machine", "Eclipse", even "Another Brick In The Wall" (not really one of my favourites, but still an iconic song).
More and more as time went on the band’s music came to reflect Roger Water’s personal psyche. Like many artists his art reflected his personal journey through which recurring themes of betrayal, the controlling state, independence, and the death of his father in the war would emerge again and again. 'The Final Cut' was a deeply felt, intense album, but the real culmination of this expression came with the release of 'The Wall'.
'The Wall' was a blockbuster any way you look at it. It told the tale of Pink in his rise from obscurity to stardom, his paranoia, his neurosis. The title song was a huge hit, and later a movie was made of the album staring Bob Geldof. It’s worth seeing if only for the fantasy scenes depicting a fascist state and the great animated cartoons of Ralph Steadman, but it’s heavy going.
'The Final Cut' came out in 1983, but the band split acrimoniously soon after that. Roger Waters went solo while the rest of the band continued to tour as Pink Floyd, despite court battles.
Thus began the third incarnation of Pink Floyd, with Dave Gilmour out front.
For many years I dismissed this phase of the band. 'When A Momentary Lapse of Reason' came out in 1987 and got good airplay I thought it was perfectly inoffensive, but not a Floyd album. It’s easy to be that dogmatic when you’re a rock fan. I’m less so now. In my mind I’ll always associate Pink Floyd with the great era led by Roger Waters, but if I am to be fair I must acknowledge Syd Barret before him, and his quite different music, and if I am to do that then I have to accept the Dave Gilmour phase. Which one's the real Pink?
Being all snooty about it never stopped me from watching Pink Floyd in ’88 thrillingly play all those great songs without Waters (though I saw Waters in concert alone probably 10 years later – also good, not as spectacular). I’m sympathetic towards Waters when he claims Pink Floyd are playing his songs – in most cases they are. For many years he was the driving, creative force behind the band and the songs the product of his personal life and history. It’s like someone going around claiming another person’s autobiography as his own. Yet this is music. The songs, written by Waters, were released by Pink Floyd the band and regardless of their origin really become the property of the listener as they enter popular culture.
Some kind of reconciliation occurred for a benefit concert in 2005, and it’s good to see the members of such a legendary band come together again. That’s it though; they each have their solo careers and projects now. What remains of Pink Floyd is their rich musical legacy and a premier position in the annals of rock history.
It was 1988 or late 1987 when I heard the news I had been waiting around 16 years for. Pink Floyd to tour Australia. I hadn't seen them since 1971 and I was going to make the most of this tour.
The day the tickets went on sale I arrived at what I thought was a very early hour. It was about 5.30am and I thought I was going to be one of the first in line. No way, when I arrived several hundred people were in the queue in front of me!
As one does when waiting in a queue for a long time, I turned around and started talking to the people who were just behind me. They asked if I had ever seen Floyd before and the second I mentioned I had seen them with both Roger & Syd up front, I had a crowd of around 30 people all wanting to hear about the early days! I think this was the first time I realised that I had witnessed something special in the early years of Floyd and that people wanted to know about it. The tickets went on sale at 9am and the crowd in front of me were getting ever closer to the ticket booth. I was the next person in line to get my tickets when the attendant shouted out "Sorry, sold out". I nearly died on the spot but figured that Floyd were going to do at least one other show. So I waited around and come to think of it so did everybody else!
About 45 minutes later the attendant shouted out the news "Pink Floyd have agreed to do another show" the cheer went up from everybody. I was now first in the queue for tickets to the second show and was expecting to get front row seats but the system was set up so that people phoning in got first pick. However I did manage to get some very good seats just on the right of the stage and about 30 rows back. The first show was set for 13 February and the show I got tickets for was for 14 February (Valentines Day).
Later that week it was announced that Floyd were going to do a lot more shows in Melbourne (8 in all) and I managed to get tickets to the last show (20 Feb 1988) without too much of a problem, however they were back row seats! I waited in eager anticipation for what seemed like months. The day was getting closer and closer and I couldn't think of anything else. Floyd was getting flogged to death in my house and the neighbours were threatening to move out!
The day before the show I was working in my garden, dreaming about Floyd doing their first gig that night and I was going to miss it! However I consoled myself knowing that I would be seeing them real soon. Boy was I in for a surprise, at around 6.30pm a friend of my wife was on the phone and asked to speak to me. Funny I thought to myself, I wonder what she wants. I then I heard the sweetest words "Hi mate, a friend of mine can't come to the Floyd concert with me tonight, how would you like to go for free" I couldn't believe my luck!! So I quickly jumped into the shower and raced around as fast as I could.
The show was due to start at 8pm and I was over an hours drive from the venue. I sped to Sharon's house (my wife's friend) picked her up and put the foot down on the way in to town.
(Note: At this point I should explain that I saw three of the 1988 shows, namely 13, 14, 20 February. However as the three shows were all very similar I have chosen just to describe the first one).
As we got closer to the venue the traffic really started to build up. We managed to get a park some way from where we had to go and sprinted the last mile or so. We got into the venue (Melbourne Tennis Centre) at exactly 8pm and as we were trying to locate what door to enter I heard the first strains of 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'.
I must admit that I had tears in my eyes as we found our way to our seats. We were seated to the left of the stage about 25 rows away and almost directly opposite where I would be sitting the next night. The intro seemed to go on forever, the stage was still in darkness but the auditorium was lit by a fantastic array of lights.
Then as if by magic Rick appeared in a cloud of smoke and ultra violet light. I was on my feet clapping and shouting but so were a lot of other people! The pulsating tones of the organ were being taken to new heights and then Dave's guitar reverberated at an astonishing volume that shook my very soul. The crowd were on their feet as the intro sadly finished all too quickly.
This was ultra Floyd, I had not heard anything so beautiful since Floyd performed The Embryo at Hyde Park in 1970.
Floyd then deftly switched the pace by gliding into 'Signs Of Life' and I got my first real look at how far the band had come in the 21 or 22 years since I had first seen them.
A huge screen was now evident, where Floyd were showing this guy rowing a canoe as they
performed a faultless version of the song live. I remember the original light show as being printers ink between two slides in a projector!
I won't dwell on each song, if you watch the video 'The Delicate Sound Of Thunder' you will get a really good appreciation as to what this concert was like.
I must admit to being impressed by the pig that hung overhead with it's eyes glowing during 'One Of These Days'. Likewise the bed that crashed into the stage and exploded was also worthy of mention!
As for the light show, well all I can say is, it was the best I have ever seen and believe me I have been to a lot of concerts over the years. But when I really start to think about it, in my opinion the heart of this Floyd extravaganza (or any Floyd show for that matter) was the incredible sweet music. They performed superlatively all night, with one heart stopping moment when they appeared to have gone off the rails. It was coming towards the end of 'Money' (Which isn't on the PAL video version BTW) when suddenly it appeared to me, or one brief second, that they had lost their way.
What had happened is that they had started a 'jam' and it took me by surprise. Up until
then they had followed what they had recorded down to the last note (well almost).
Now here was something a bit different (the jam differed slightly each of the 3 nights I saw them). I can't say it was a highlight because some of it sounded a bit off key. But it took me back a few years to when Syd would go off and do his own thing. I felt that this little segment (the jam) was included by Dave, Rick & Nick as a sort of 'throwback' to when they were an experimental band.
I thought Scott Page fitted in really well playing his sax and Guy Pratt seemed to have slipped into Roger's role without any detrimental effect on the overall sound. Tim Renwick also played a valuable part as did Gary Wallis and I must not forget the 3 female singers who I think were Margaret Taylor, Durga McBroom and Rachel Fury. (I could be wrong on that score and don't have the programme handy to check).
Anyway these ladies blew me away with their rendition of 'Great Gig In The Sky' which was as good as the original in my opinion.
My ears were ringing as we left the tennis centre. What a night! What a concert! and to think I got to do it all again the following night!
The post is a soundboard recording in mp3 format (320kps) taken from one of eight concerts held at the Tennis Centre in Melbourne (19th Feb 1988) and was sourced from Bootleg Tunz Radio with thanks. This bootleg is available under many titles 'Anything Can Happen', 'Lapse Of Memory', 'Melbourne Soundboard' and of course' Live At The Tennis Centre, Melbourne'. I have included artwork from all of these titles for your interest along with a range of photos associated with their Momentary Lapse Tour in 1987/88 (with thanks to PinkFloydz.com)
Quite frankly the quality of this soundboard is outstanding and could easily be released commercially along with other Pink Floyd official live releases. The only disappointment is that "Comfortably Numb" is not the best version I've heard (some strained vocals at the start take away some of the magic) but I guess I should cut Gilmour a bit of slack because his guitar solos are simply out of this world - pure magic!
So I guess the 'balls in your court' - if you want another great Floyd boot in your collection then have a listen to this 'serve by Floyd'. Thanks players, linesmen and ball kids......
101 Shine On You Crazy Diamond I-V
102 Signs Of Life
103 Learning To Fly
104 Yet Another Movie ~ Round And Around
105 A New Machine I
106 Terminal Frost
107 A New Machine II
109 The Dogs Of War
110 On The Turning Away
203 On The Run
204 Wish You Were Here
205 Welcome To The Machine
206 Us And Them
208 Another Brick In The Wall II
209 Comfortably Numb
David Gilmour (Guitar, Vocals)
Nick Mason (Drums)
Richard Wright (Keyboards, Vocals)
Jon Carin (Keyboards, Vocals)
Rachel Fury (Backing Vocals)
Durga McBroom (Backing Vocals)
Scott Page (Saxophone, Guitar)
Guy Pratt (Bass, Vocals)
Tim Renwick (Guitar, Vocals)
Margaret Taylor (Backing Vocals)
Gary Wallis (Percussion)
Pink Floyd Live (297Mb) New Link 05/05/2020