Brussels Affair (Sigma 66)
Forest National, Brussels, Belgium – December 5th, 1972
Disc 1 (47:27): Speak To Me, Breathe, On The Run, Time, Breathe (Reprise), The Great Gig In The Sky, Money, Us And Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse
Disc 2 (50:32): One Of These Days, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Echoes, Childhood’s End
The tape documenting Pink Floyd’s December 5th, 1972 Brussels show is a recent find. Produced by a taper named OPUS 5, it is a very good to borderline excellent stereo recording. The needle seems to hit the red too often plaguing the tape with upper end distortion throughout the concert. It is slight but noticeable and mars what could have been the best recorded concert from Pink Floyd’s short tour of Europe in late ’72.
There are a few cuts between songs in the second half of the concert, but none during songs. Every performance is complete.
Pink Floyd starts off the show by playing the Dark Side Of The Moon suite as they have for the entire year. It is remarkable how little the piece evolved during the year compared to the studio recording. The two “traveling” pieces, “On The Run” and “The Great Gig In The Sky” underwent several changes throughout the year, but none would suggest what they would eventually become in the studio.
The Brussels performance is notable for the nasty, abrasive, loud buzzing coming from the PA at the start of “Breathe.” Several times (specifically at 1:25, 1:46, 1:51, and 3:46) electronic noises startle the audience (and band), throwing off their timing. The band continue to play the song but David Gilmour waits before singing the song until the problem is worked out.
The VC3 dominated “On The Run” is entirely a studio creation and wouldn’t sound like the studio version until 1973. In 1972 it was still an instrumental jam session. Whether the equipment problems at the start of the show continued or how much they bothered the band is uncertain. But Gilmour sounds completely out of sorts during the instrumental, playing an out of tune strumming tune over the rhythm section.
“Time” starts off effectively, but this time Richard Wright makes a big mistake by singing the final verse as the first. He and Gilmour giggle at the mistake and bravely continue on.
After “Great Gig” the performance improves. “Money” builds in intensity and “Us & Them” is quite unsettling. “Any Colour You Like” is an effective jam session and Roger Waters’ big contribution to the suite, “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse” ends the first half of the the show nicely.
The second half “oldies” section starts off with “One Of These Days” from Meddle. Very early on Waters make a big mistake, playing the descending riff on bass guitar several measures too early, throwing off the rest of the band. First Gilmour, then Wright, and now Waters cause a big, embarrassing mistake. Nick Mason is the only one to not have have some kind of meltdown during the performance.
“Careful With That Axe, Eugene” is very effective. Waters recites his Scottish Pict style poetry in the middle before the expected blood curdling scream and instrumental cacophony. The poem sounds different than the one recited in Zürich several nights before.
“Echoes” redeems the show. The distortion in the tape curiously enhances the brutality of the heavy-metal sections of the piece. The epic closes the show and the band return to the stage to play “Childhood’s End” as an encore.
Brussels Affair is a great release worth having. The mistakes and imperfect performances are exactly the reason why we love and collect bootlegs. It’s much more interesting hearing borderline disasters like this than rote-perfect performances (or the studio recordings for the umpteenth time). It is great to finally see Sigma release something new instead of reissuing their catalogue in “improved” editions.