The Odeon, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England – November 9, 1974
Disc 1 (55:10) Tune Up, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (parts 1-9), Raving And Drooling, Tune Up, You’ve Gotta Be Crazy
Disc 2 (70:27) 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, Echoes
Every day on satellite radio there is a show called “today in Grateful Dead history”, hosted by Dead archivist David Lemieux…what does this have to do with Pink Floyd? Well DL suggests getting on the Internet and looking at the venues as a way to better enjoy the recordings, thus bringing me to doing a bit of pre review work. I mostly use books as I have quite a few, but taking this advice and searching the Odeon in Newcastle it brings up pictures of a beautiful old movie palace built in 1931 as the Paramount Theatre, that seat 2,600 punters. It has a wonderful and ornate vertical sign out front and a lavish interior. Curiously the building is still standing but is closed and not used, a shame.
This new release from the Eat A Peach label presents Pink Floyd’s performance at this building 42 years, and a few months, at the beginning of the groups British Winter Tour. After the massive success of Dark Side Of The Moon, the band was faced with the task of following it up, after taking a much deserved break they begin to work on the Household Objects project that was abandoned but did actually leave the group with some usable music and ideas. They were able to come up with structures of three new musical pieces and in typical Floyd fashion, took to playing them live, something that they had done with their previous works starting with Atom Heart Mother. The band did a short tour of France in June of 1974 preceding the Winter Tour where two of the new songs were played, Shine On and Raving and Drooling. The recording from Newcastle comes very early in the Winter tour, this is the fourth date played and the second known recording from the well covered, by tapers and the news media, tour. The source is a good to very good incomplete audience recording. There are cuts between some songs, You’ve Gotta Be Crazy fades at the 16:15 mark and Any Colour You Like fades at the 3:51 mark, the fades eliminate the remainder of each song. The sound is clear and detail with a nice balance of instruments and vocals, it does capture the acoustics of the venue and the atmosphere is well captured. The sound does get a bit muddy at times due to the limitations of the recording equipment and there is a bit of hiss, none of these items interfered with my listening experience.
The recording begins as the band takes the stage, to a nice ovation, and begins tuning as the audience impatiently clap and holler, this is Newcastle! They quiet as the music begins with the somber playing of Richard Wright, they had not yet adopted the Wine Glasses section from Household Objects. Dave enters about three minutes in and the piece gets fully fleshed out a half minute latter. What is interesting about these early Shine On versions is you can hear them basically rehearsing the song, the band are masters at improvisation and while the song has structure, the second half of the song is still in its embryonic stages. Roger handles much of the songs vocals. The second half of the suite is basically the band playing a more repetitive theme as the different movements of the recorded versions has not yet been developed. When compared to the other songs played during this time, Raving and Drooling sounds almost vicious and the performance is quite powerful, the soundscapes played mid song are particularly cold and almost chilling, then bam the band hammer down with a lyric “Raving and drooling I fell on his neck with a scream”, great rendition of the song, for me easily the highlight of the tape. The song works the audience up a bit and they get rowdy during Roger’s long bass tuning exercise, they start to harass them with “come on” to which Roger reply’s “what do you want me to do…we have be playing fucking music” to which he receives a large round of applause. “This is another new one, there all new ones” is his introduction to You’ve Gotta Be Crazy, being played for only its fourth time. The version here features some interesting guitar phrasing about 10 minutes in, you can hear the band trying something and seeing if it sticks so to say. That is what makes the British Winter Tour interesting, the trio of new songs evolve over the month long trek.
The second disc starts with “I’ve been mad for fucking years” and the beginning of Dark Side Of The Moon. The band had refined the visual accompaniment that was projected onto the large circular screen now behind the band. They spent three weeks of preparation time at the famed Elstree Studios in North London where the band worked out the intricate timings of music to the visuals. The band had not played Newcastle for close to three years at this point, last time was in January 1972 where the embryonic version of Dark Side was performed, now they get to witness the suite in all is audio and visual glory, needless to say the rambunctious audience is quiet throughout. The encore for the entire tour is Echoes, this version is excellent as the band sound energized and in complete sync throughout, thankfully they had not added the sax solo, Richard Wright is the stand out on this song as he adds a lot of nuances during the middle section that is really nice.
The packaging is the mini LP sleeve adorned with live shots from the tour, the graphics come from the comic book style tour book. Each CD sleeve has a Floyd man on front and back along with track listing for each disc and there is the obligatory insert with liner notes from The Lazy Goalkeeper. Another nice production from the Peach folks, first time show on CD, lovingly presented to us, the listeners.