Maryland 1973 (Sigma 57)
Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD – June 20th, 1973
Disc 1 (59:53): Obscured By Clouds, When You’re In, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Echoes
Disc 2 (58:21): Speak To Me, Breathe, On The Run, Time, Breathe (reprise), The Great Gig In The Sky, Money, Us & Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse, One Of These Days
Despite the brevity of Pink Floyd’s June tour in 1973, and that they began to book stadiums, they managed to play two dates at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland, the only place with more than one show. The pavilion is an outdoor venue with fantastic acoustics and hosted rock concerts soon after it’s opening in 1967.
Maryland 1973 documents the first of the two shows. It is a good but rather thin audience tape. A fan produced release titled Breaking Bottles In The Hall (Liverpool Records 2000 LR) is in common circulation, but Sigma are the first to issue it on silver.
The emphasis is upon the high end guitar sounds. The rest of the instruments and vocals are mixed in well, but David Gilmour tends to dominate the sound throughout the night. There are cuts between each of the songs in the first half, eliminating all of the tunings and introductions (if there were any). In the second half of the show there is a cut at 5:38 in “Money” which fades out and fades back into the beginning of “Us & Them,” and a cut before the encore.
“Obscured By Clouds” and “When You’re In” begin the set with its mechanic/pastoral dramatic crunch which comes close to overwhelming the audience. Gilmour spits out an aggressive sounding solo over Richard Wright’s strong Hammond organ melody. Use of the Hammond in progressive rock was already outdated by 1973, but it brings a strong mid to late sixties psychedelic timbre to the song. This piece has always been one of Pink Floyd’s best set openers but would unfortunately be abandoned after this tour.
The middle two songs provide an interesting context. “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” sounds slower and more deliberate than older versions. When Pink Floyd played this in concert during this tour, they emphasized a heavy, ominous sound and eschewing attempts at being melodic. “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” by contrast is played at a quicker tempo than in the past.
A twenty-three minute version of “Echoes” closes the first half. Like much of this show, Gilmour’s guitar overshadows the other instruments both in volume and resonance as he carries much bite in the melody in the opening. The seagull section is a bit longer than usual, but the audience don’t mind and seem to get a big kick out of it.
Tremendous enthusiasm and clapping greets the “Speak To Me” at the beginning of the second half of the evening. Hearing Dark Side Of The Moon, which was released only three months before, in a live setting is probably the reason why most were there. The audience also become very vocal and rowdy during “On The Run” and particularly like the rumbling bass of the piece.
“The Great Gig In The Sky” is recorded particularly well with very clear piano. “Money” is a highlight with intense guitar and saxophone solos. “Us & Them” is very mellow by contrast. Gilmour comes in a bit early for the last verse, almost cutting short the saxophone but stops and corrects himself.
The long jam on “Any Colour You Like” is one of the songs where the band does a fair amount of improvising. In this performance it has a heavy metallic keyboard presence in the mix which abates only by the middle when Gilmour comes in with brilliant heavy metal riffage.
He stops for “Brain Damage.” Roger Waters has the creepiest voice of the three singers in the band. The mood changes mostly because his voice hadn’t been heard in the whole piece up to this point and it leads to an unsettling effect. The show ends with “Eclipse” and the only encore is “One Of These Days” from Meddle, a song that would disappear from the live repertoire after this tour.
Maryland 1973 is certainly a unique release by Sigma. It is a relatively obscure show in a good but not great audience recording. But the performance itself is spectacular and ranks among the most intense and dynamic from this era. It comes packaged in a double slimline jewel case with full color inserts and era photographs.