Matrix: PF3077 A / B
Source: Wembley, Empire Pool, 15 March 1977, except ‘^’, unknown date
Side 1: Sheep / Pigs On The Wing 1 / Dogs / Pigs On The Wing 2
Side 2: Pigs (Three Different Ones) / Us And Them^
I love the titles picked by the MARC and this label. Several come from collected UK music magazines, as this blog has shown, such as SOUPED UP RORY and THE STING OF EL FERRANTI , hinting at collecting and careful archiving of what must have been treasured foreign memorabilia at the time. I don’t know if there ever was a Pink Floyd article titled “Giant Barn Dance” – I looked and didn’t find one – but it’s a great title for an ANIMALS era PF bootleg and one the band seemed to subconsciously quote when titling their best of album A GREAT COLLECTION OF DANCE SONGS many years later (although considering the band’s hatred for bootlegs, that’s rather unlikely).
Side 1: Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts I-V / Welcome To The Machine / Have A Cigar / Wish You Were Here
Side 2: Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts VI-IX / Money
Complete concert set list (taken from an alternative source):
01. Sheep [11:51]
02. Pigs On The Wing Part 1 [1:38]
03. Dogs [18:04]
04. Pigs On The Wing Part 2 [2:38]
05. Pigs (Three Different Ones) [14:28]
06. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V) [16:32]
07. Welcome to the Machine [7:33]
08. Have A Cigar [5:16]
09. Wish You Were Here [6:10]
10. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX) [18:32]
11. Money [9:02]
Based on the “Gm” HOTWACKS rating, I always believed, this sounds absolutely terrible. What we can hear is a somewhat distant very low volume, yet quite clear recording. The master tape has never surfaced, so these two Japanese bootleg LP’s are the only surviving source. It seems when this was copied in 1979 by Ken for his Impossible Recordworks label as KNOBS, the recording was ‘remastered’ as best as possible.
The color cover reissue of KNOBS on Ken’s Toasted Records from the early 1980’s:
“Recorder 1: complete – this is the very common recorder as surfaced on the famous “Knobs” LP (released under 2 labels: IMP 2.15 IMPOSSIBLE RECORD WORKS and 2S-907 TOASTED RECORDS) all the CDs in circulation are sourced from the LP […]; The LP was released on CD as well in the 90s with the following cat. number: MPH 016/2 Microphone Records – Italy 1994, being itself a transfer from the LP and not coming from the tape source used for the LP; attempts of remastering the Knobs CD and LP surfaced as well […].
About Us and Them on this release: some notes accompanying the CDs sometimes suppose that Us & Them is from a different date… someone said 1977-03-19; of course it can’t be from March 19 as Us and Them wasn’t performed on that date, it wasn’t performed on THIS date as well; the dating of the song is maybe not so important anyway …the Us & Them on the Knobs release is just the first verse of the song repeated over and over all along the track followed by a patchwork of pieces of the song merged together … making it the weirdest stuff I’ve ever heard on a RoIO actually.
Recorder 2: missing Money – this widely circulated as coming from the Master of from some clone of the masters; Money was not recorded by this taper, it was filled in all the versions in circulation (probably patched by the taper himself) from the Knobs LP… even if it turned out sounding quite similar to the rest of the songs. Versions of this recording are: Untitled Master; “If Pigs Could Fly” (Digital Reproduction), which is a speedcorrectd version of the untitled Master version. Recently another version of this recorder is in circulation, not including Money on the “Reeling In Pink Floyd” series.”
Reviews for the 15 March ’77 performance:
from “Melody Maker” (taken from the “Echoes” Book): The time has come for the Pink Floyd to completely re-think their stage act. They play in vast, windy auditoria and do nothing to turn their concerts into human events: the ambience they encourage is that of a few thousand robots responding to a computer. Last Wednesday evening at Wembley’s Empire Pool was no exception. It was rather like sitting at home in the dark listening to their albums at lot louder than the neighbours would permit, with more treble than anyone would wish and giant inflatable pig hanging over your head. And this is rock? A band playing though their two latest albums, with as little variations as possible? It was all so cold, clean and clinical. The Floyd have altered the whole concept of rock; they’ve turned the stage into a one-take recording studio, dispensing with the human bond between artist and audience.
from “Sounds” magazine: BLINDED BY THE LIGHT – Pink Floyd at Wembley. Tim Lott Gets an Eyeful by Tim Lott
A YELL from Arena right. “Wally.” Blank eyed, lank greasehairs lean on buttresses. The last acid casualty leftovers. “JeezizlookwhentheywerewithSidrightIsawthemwellitmusthave,man,been…” A middle aged man in pinstripes (incognito) sidles up. Cut glass voice intones: “excuse meh. Is this block C?” Why yes. Block C, south entrance. The Empire Pool. In Wembley. There’s a pop concert happening here. All these people are here for some fun. HaHaHaHaHa. Fun. Fun is not what the Floyd are about. Rock ‘n’ Roll is not what the Floyd are about. I wish I knew what the Floyd are about. Maybe I can find out. Maybe this concert is going to tell me. Maybe. So here we are then. Ten years on, and waiting. CHECK OUT the prelude. The T-shirt sellers and the overpriced bars and paper cups and spreading grime and empty air expanses and headbands and teenqueens and Burtons and Levis. There are no programmes. Inside, take a look. First you notice this barricaded trapezium at the rear. The barriers surround the mixing desks for the quad system and anticipated special effects controls. There’s a lot of it. Above the stage – no surprise, this – a huge, oval projective screen. Banks of lights surround it, but not so many. Where are the rest? Later, later. Wait. So here I am, seat 14, row 13, off to the right side facing the stage. In front of me, speakers. To the left and right and rear, high up in the terraces, more speakers. Hm. Hm. Hm. Hm.
Ah. The lights are going down. But only on the Arena. Upstairs they still pick out the masses sharply. Onstage movement and the band are there. Zero impact entrance. Upstairs they’re still wondering why the lights are still on. Downstairs you notice all the empty seats. Perplexing. Quadrophonic baaaaaas. Onstage lights are up to the sounds of surprisingly unexcited audience response, a sort of ‘come on get on with it’ note mingled in the less than lusty cheers. ‘Sheep’. One, two, thr… six musicians? An extra guitarist and keyboards man, Snowy White (really?) and Dick Parry, session man on ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. (I only know who they are because I asked EMI. They weren’t introduced.) Well then, ‘Sheep’. Well then. That’s all it was . Not one of their best numbers on record, ditto onstage, not a good opener. It’s very loud, pretty much average chunka chunk stuff. It would have been boring but… Half way through there’s a stirring in the wings. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?
This. Two bloody great claw-like lighting towers loom out of the edges of the stage. Enormous, they shoot red and blue and green light at the audience, at the band, soar high to the ceiling and swoop to almost head level, picking out each musician. Courageous lighting engineers cling to the pinnacle of each. This is very effective. What mars the whole shebang is that: (a) it renders the music completely irrelevant for about five minutes as the monstrous towers absorb all attention. (b) It marks the first cock-up of the evening. As the platforms rose from the darkness, each should have had sparks shooting out from behind for illumination. It only worked on one of them. Whoops. The lighting towers weren’t the only distraction, ten minutes of the band being onstage people were still wandering in and shuffling about and whispering and nose blowing and God knows what else. When the sound quietened down for a four-way wind effect, the excess noise was noticeably annoying. Disinterest? Or post-mortem? However.
‘Pigs On The Wing’. Strummedy strum. Roger Waters sounds a bit shakey. ‘Dogs’. Dry ice. I am surprised. It envelops Dave Gilmour’s feet as he takes the lead vocal, then swirls about his body and head. Down swoops that tower and spectrum spotlights glare into the mist five feet above his head, and as the vapour diffuses the lightbeams track it. The beams switch to electric blue and scan the crowd, as the music lulls. More stirrings sidestage, faint woofwoofs from four speaker sources. This bit I don’t believe. It’s a Family, you see. An obscene, fat, inflatable, blank faced family with white light pouring from somewhere within their synthetic loins. A besuited bizman, his gross wife stretched on billowing settee, his rotund and evil-faced son in painted shorts. Enormous and floating a hundred feet above the stage. Is this funny? Is this frightening? What are the Floyd about? Mrs and Kiddie fatso gradually deflate but daddy pinstripe lumbers airily across above the stage, looming down, to maybe a few feet above head level. No-one can take their eyes away. Again music fades into insignificant background, as the masses wait to see what this… thing… is going to do. What it does is deflate, reflate and piss off. Er, look how are we supposed to react? The whole thing is just a touch ludicrous. All I can think is “so what”. ‘Pigs On The Wing’. Same as last time. ‘Pigs’. I think we’re all expecting something like this. Personally, I hoped to see a whopping great helium stuffed Mary Whitehouse swooping all over the place, but it is not to be.
Instead an ultra loud, metallic KO guitar passage from Gilmour preambles a shout from Waters, “Turn it on”. It is turned on. It comes sailing across the Empire Pool with flabby grace, dwarfing the 7,000. It is, of course, a pig. This time I have two distinct reactions. Astonishment as the sheer scale of spreadeagling balloon. And oblique amusement. I mean look up there, a very, very, large curly tailed swine, lurching about like a drunken, misshapen Zeppelin. So what happens now? Like it’s tailored predecessor, porky does a quick shudder, nips backstage again, assumedly for a quick swill at an inflatable trough before getting his snout down for a snooze, ready to emerge breezily for the next night’s epic performance. AM I saying the right things? I mean what about the music man? Have you got the ‘Animals’ album? That’s what they did. Stuck close to the vinyl score. The only difference is that Roger Waters’ vocals were quite appalling on the less bludgeoning passages and that Dave Gilmour’s guitar was too loud (from where I was sitting anyway). Musically they were as good as their material. Their material was below par.
“We’re going to take a twenty minute break now.” Oh for the love of Jesus. Why? Onstage for less than an hour, crowd only just settled down. Maybe the work was just too hard actually playing for all that time. Still a chance to look around as the lights come up. What have we got? Still a surprising number of empty seats. An unsurprising number of people resembling members of that very airborne family the band were lampooning minutes earlier. Behind the annoyance of the unnecessary break, what? Disappointment. I am left cold. They have acted as machines. No acknowledgement of the crowd. Minimal enthusiasm. Ragged inmental approach from the band, but ‘Snowy White has several times shown Gilmour up as fairly limited. The Floyd have never been virtuosos, but they always achieved effect. This time, no. Even the audience seem subdued. Still hiding from pigs on the wing I shouldn’t wonder. If that bloody great thing fell on you you’d know about it. Then the audience come out of hiding. Whistles, general derision, direction uncertain; the atmosphere-damaging lights shining disconcertingly on the tier audience? Or the band itself? Speculation cut short by the return of the indifferent wonder boys. (Indifferent, sure, and why not? The tickets are sold, the albums are selling, the position is consolidated. Money, it’s a crime, artistically rather than politically.)
‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’. For the first time, my heart works double time, the edge of my seat teeters. The best single latter day Floyd number. Will they won’t they blow it? They blow it. The visuals distract and fascinate. The giant screen is now alive with impressionist stop/go oblique images – sea, beaches, gentle movement, Vaseline photography. Almost beautiful, marred by shampoo and approach but constantly interesting. Meanwhile, the live soundtrack is falling on its knees and begging inspiration. The main, destructive, ruining, hopeless avoidable, grating flaw is still Waters’ vocal stumblings. The obvious thing to do would be to have Gilmour’s relatively strong voice handling all lead singing with Waters occasionally chipping in for a bit of strained harmony. Waters either insisted on his solo spots or maybe it didn’t occur to him just how inept a singer he is. His voice completely ruined my enjoyment of what might have been the high point of a low level concert. Gilmour’s guitar – again propped by Snowy White – though in a slight rut, is jagged, and he manages to reproduce the vinyl cut competently, even superlatively. And Rick Wright’s synthesizer patters, though somehow blurred at the edges are effective enough, especially juiced up with Dick Parry’s additional keyboard support. Unfortunately Parry’s sax solo on the same number is dilute and foetid, building to a barely acceptable climax at the end of the number. But that voice… Ah well. Long time to go yet.
‘Welcome To The Machine’. Chink. Durrrrr. Cue onscreen visuals. This time the film clip is superb – an impossible steel insect parading across desert landscape, cut to perspective-warp too-real buildings that cry rivers of blood, to flying monoliths. No idea what it all means, but very pretty, very pretty. Barely notice the musical accompaniment but it complements the film nicely. It now dawns on me. All the way through the music has literally become incidental to the sight barrage. Maybe Floyd have achieved what they set out to do years ago – create a successful soundtrack to an avant-garde visual piece. ‘More’, ‘Zabriskie Point’ and ‘Obscured By Clouds’ all ultimately failed but this… I mean as pure music it’s pretty poor but as soundtracking it fits. Nah, that’s not the answer. Not with them still coming up with numbers like…
‘Have A Cigar’. First number of the concert that improves on the vinyl score. No uppity visuals to distract, no studio sterility. Mainstream mainline straightforward rock, nice soloing, gritty vocals. I feel… involved for the first time. Oh, and Snowy White upstages Gilmour again, with a fine, fluid piece of aggression that fixes attention past Gilmour onto the session players slightly-lit for form behind. Can it last? Not really. A tiny transistor radio and more seeping dry ice introduce,
‘Wish You Were Here’. Enigmatically the radio is playing material from the new Peter Gabriel solo. Then into the Floyd flood, diamond backed muzak. The visuals take over again for the final climax. From this point the music is little more than a faint organised noise behind the mental volume of films and mirrors. Onscreen, a faceless, sexless figure falls through blue sky, and the sky cracks, the figure falls through emptiness, into endless corridors… all corny enough, but superbly put together. The adventures of this unfortunate wraith continue through ‘Wish You Were Here’, but even this is only preamble for the Killer Gimmick, the most expensive cheap trick ever. From the depths of centre stage rises… something. The finale is just beginning.
‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond Pt Two’. The… something is like a flower, right, a flower made of glass. I’m not quite sure what a lotus looks like but I guess it might look like this. Inspecting closer it looks like it’s made of lots of tiny pieces of glass. It is, of course, giant. So there I am thinking, well, it’s outsize, and unusual, and I guess it’ll deflate in a minute or something and go away when someone, simply points a spotlight at it. I suppose that made it all worthwhile. The spotlight separated into a million lightsplinters, shooting out and fluorescing at the crowd, like a massive laser bank, firing clear, defined shafts of light at all angles. The lights switch shades through the spectrum, the lotus rotates, speeding the light pulses, mesmerising and astonishing. It is beautiful. What music, what Empire Pool? Consciousness is totally absorbed by the extravaganza. The white… no, blue… no, red… no, green rays live and pulsate. A zillion ballroom spheres welded together and activated. It’s so… “That’s it. Good night. That’s it. Thank you very much.” The tone of a man whose got a tiresome job thankfully out of the way, Roger Waters brings the crowd back to earth. Still hypnotized by the crazy diamond, we clap, we stomp, we cheer, we work hard for more than five minutes and they return.
The encore is not, thankfully, ‘Echoes’, the encore is: ‘Money’. Appropriate I guess, because that is precisely what this concert is about, and choosing ‘Money’ as an encore is half-acknowledging the fact. But it’s OK, a good down-the-line peaking number, immediate and hard. Lots of tapes, more hopeless vocals, class sax solo, another ace film. Then the cash register closes for the night and the lights are on. I heard two comments on the way out. ‘Brilliant’ said the businessman. ‘Incredible’ said the longhair. What are the Floyd about? I think… Look, I sat right down, waiting for the sound and vision. Something was wrong with my reception (or was it their transmission). All I got was the vision. The sound was somewhere else, imprinted on vinyl grooves, waiting for a stylus. I STILL don’t know about the Floyd. I suppose I was just looking in the wrong place.