Somewhere along the line in the 1970s, concert programs became expensive and rather boring. We can probably trace it to the 1975 concerts by Led Zeppelin at Earls Court. I bought the program, the T-shirt and the poster. I can't remember how much I paid but I probably didn't get much change from a £10 note.
Now, of course, you'd expect to pay £10 for the program alone, plus another £30 for the t-shirt. Merchandising is big money for bands, along with the concert tickets themselves, now that physical music is so cheaply and easily consumed, without the need to buy a whole album.
The 1974 tour program was a treat though, being made to resemble a comic, with each member of the band given their own comic strip: Rog Of The Rovers, Captain Mason, R.N. - you get the idea.
Little quiz pages were interspersed and, most notably the program included the lyrics to the new songs the band played in the first half of the show.
|Lyrics to the new songs|
During the winter tour of 1974, the songs being trialled were Shine On You Crazy Diamond, You Gotta Be Crazy and Raving and Drooling. Of the three, Shine On... was the most impressive and the one clearly more complete than the other two. It was ready to appear on their next album, Wish You Were Here. Despite its unfamiliarity, Shine On You Crazy Diamond got a great reception from the audience at Wembley's Empire Pool.
You Gotta be Crazy and Raving and Drooling, with alterations to their lyrics and arrangements, would become Dogs and Sheep on the album Animals. So fully three years before they would appear on an album, these songs were being road-tested.
First half: New Songs
Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Raving and Drooling (Sheep)
You Gotta be Crazy (Dogs)
|Pink Floyd playing DSOTM at Wembley, 1974|
Speak to Me
On the Run
The Great Gig in the Sky
Us and Them
Any Colour You Like
The show was spellbinding and the audience loved it - the recordings show that clearly. But not everyone was impressed. That sniffy hipster at the NME, Nick Kent, a man who almost certainly never played a three-hour show in his life, thought the Floyd were too detached from the audience.
|My bootleg CDs of the '74 show|
And by the time of the Dark Side Of The Moon tours, the show was all about the images projected on the circular screen that dominated the stage.
In the Classic Albums show about Dark Side, they show many of the visuals projected on the circular screen. This was innovative staging at the time.
Nowadays, stage lighting and visuals are way more advanced at arena shows, but the Floyd were at the forefront of concepts to transform live shows into a much more visual and engaging spectacle - a process that developed into flying pigs with the Animals tour and, ultimately, The Wall.
The Wembley '74 show climaxed with the giant screen showing sun being eclipsed by the moon. On the bootleg recording of the Empire Pool show, you can hear the audience response as the Eclipse reaches its crescendo. It was very well done, the whole thing, topped off, let's not forget, by this timeless classic of an album.Here's an audio recording from Wembley 1974
By 1977 and the Animals tour, the Floyd had taken the live experience to another level. "Roger had an idea for the next Pink Floyd album," according to the withdrawn liner notes for the new 5.1 mix of Animals: "He borrowed from George Orwell’s allegorical story, Animal Farm, in which pigs and other farmyard animals were reimagined anthropomorphically. Waters portrays the human race as three sub-species trapped in a violent, vicious cycle, with sheep serving despotic pigs and authoritarian dogs. You Gotta be Crazy and Raving And Drooling perfectly fitted his new concept."
The show was again split into two halves.
Welcome to the Machine
Have a Cigar
Wish You Were Here
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI–IX)"
Us and Them
|Part of the Pink Floyd show at the V&A|
The pyrotechnic stage lighting was choreographed from two articulated towers. At the climax of Sheep, fireworks burst out from the towers. At various points during the first set, an inflatable family, larger than life household items like a fridge or a car and various animals would appear.
I believe these concerts utilised quadrophonic sound and the band made good use of the available technology. The sound of dogs barking and pigs squealing was particularly freaky.
The four-piece band was augmented by second guitarist/bass player Snowy White. The overall sound was much more punchy and aggressive than the 1974 show had been.
The alienation and distance from the audience, that Nick Kent sensed in 1974, also became quite real, particularly on the last date of the North American tour in Montreal. By all accounts, including his own, Waters became increasingly angry with the rowdy American audiences. It culminated with him spitting in the face of a fan at the front of the stage. The experience fed into the writing of the next Pink Floyd album, The Wall.
Despite the improved audio facilities, there were no official recordings made of the Animals tour and no decent unofficial audio exists from the Wembley shows. Here's a recording from the US tour
The Animals tour program was black and glossy. It contained no words, apart from Pink Floyd - Animals on the cover; just a bunch of so-so photos. A waste of money frankly, but a memento nonetheless all these years later.
I gave up buying concert programs after that.
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