Dying Of Boredom (Sigma 8)
Refectory Hall, Leeds University, Yorkshire, England – February 28th, 1970
Disc 1: The Embryo, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
Disc 2: Amazing Pudding (Atom Heart Mother), A Saucerful Of Secrets, Interstellar Overdrive
The Refectory Hall at Leeds University is, judging by the wealth of talented band who have played there, an important venue in northern England. Pink Floyd played there three times. The first time was on November 8th, 1969 and doesn’t have a tape source. The February 28th, 1970 show, which is featured on Dying Of Boredom, is complete and the final appearance in Leeds, which was on January 23rd, 1971, has a fragmentary tape with “A Saucerful Of Secrets” and the blues encore. A previous commercial release of this tape can be found on Leeds 1970 (Ayanami-243) but Sigma is the first silver release of this tape. It is very good and clear but a bit “flat” and lacking in dynamics. It contains all of the music played the taper paused between songs cutting off many of the song introductions. Despite these limitations it is still a very nice document from the first couple months of the new decade.
An engineering student named John Rettie’s took photos of the many of the bands who played in Leeds during this period including some from this specific event. In a recent interview he said, “The Floyd were very mystical. Pink Floyd was a great gig. I remember Roger Waters striking the big hanging drum. It had little Chinese symbols on it. They were very much into their mystic art. The Floyd weren’t quite as big a deal then and it was only two weeks after The Who, so in comparison it wasn’t as exciting. I didn’t go backstage with the band as I had with the others. I wish I had now because I could have met Nick Mason. Funnily enough he’s a motoring journalist – as I am.” (The Mirror, December 28th, 2007).
The tape cut into Roger Waters’ opening remarks, saying, “…concert pitch. What we’re gonna do is a new song called ‘The Embryo.'” This is one of the earliest versions of the popular stage piece. The volume dips in track between 2:30 to 3:00, and the seabird screeches are played over the melody line instead of standing by itself as in later versions. “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” took on a life of its own after the live version on Ummagumma and this version has some bizarre animal sounds in the middle before Waters’ scream. There is a cut in the tape afterwards and when the track returns Waters is saying, “…anyway we won’t bother about that now. This is another oldie. It’s called ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun.'” The long middle section is heavily keyboard driven and creates a true space-like setting in the venue.
The second half of begins with another new songs which Waters introduces by saying, “…a new piece and it’s as yet untitled. And it’s quite long so get comfortable.” The opening of “The Amazing Pudding” is a bit tentative and the beginning vocalizations are a different and it has an overall “softer” arrangement than what the song would develop into later in the year. Richard Wright plays an interesting keyboard solo in the middle and this even has a very rare Nick Mason drum solo! “A Saucerful Of Secrets” is very unsettling in this recording. They really descend into the valley of spook in “Syncopated Pandemonium.” Wright’s keyboards conflict with Gilmour’s slide and Waters’ hyper aggressive gong banging, all to quietly segue into the “Celestial Voices” finale of the piece. “There’s only about seven or eight minutes of time left” Waters says. “So this is gonna have to be the fastest ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ ever.” The tape captures a full nine minute version of the piece before the show ends. This title is another limited edition on Sigma and another Pink Floyd silver worth having. (GS)