Pink Floyd – Offenbach 1971 (Sigma 69)

Offenbach 1971 (Sigma 69)

Stadthalle, Offenbach, Germany – February 26th, 1971

Disc 1 (46:38):  Intro., Astronomy Domine, Green Is The Colour, Careful With That Axe Eugene, The Embryo, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun

Disc 2 (69:13):  Cymbaline, A Saucerful Of Secrets, Atom Heart Mother, Atom Heart Mother (reprise), Blues.  Bonus tracks taken from the original analog LP Pictures Of Pink Floyd Vol. 1 (TOPSOUND 70001):  Blues, Atom Heart Mother

After dates in England in February 1971, Pink Floyd returned to Germany, practically their second home, to continue to promote Atom Heart Mother.  Unlike England, the audiences in Germany were treated to full versions of their new piece including choir and brass orchestra to supplement the band’s performance.  Offenbach was their third stop on this short tour and was professionally filmed for the TV program Aspekte.

Offenbach 1971 is the third release of this audience recording, following Offenbach 1971 (Siréne-023) and Offenbach Master (Siréne-225).  The new Sigma is a slight upgrade over the older titles.  It is basically a silver pressing of Marbal’s, the taper’s, own first generation backup reel-to-reel recording of the show.

According to the notes associated with the tape, and posted online, this is a “new High Definition transfer from Marbal’s own 1st Generation backup reel. Marbal recorded his first Floyd show in February 1971, onto cassette. He no longer has the master cassette, but he made backups to both cassette and ¼” reel to reel sometime around 1981, and this is from his reel to reel copy of the show. 

“Versus the cassette, the reel sounded more open. Marbal’s reel was a mono transfer, recorded on one of 4 tracks laid down onto his ¼” tape.  Old tape-heads will remember the way tape-decks would allow you to selectively record just one mono, or two stereo tracks to a side of tape in a single pass. Recording 4 mono tracks meant your tape went twice as far.  So even mono recordings can experience bleed through!”

February 26th originally was scheduled for the Alte Oper in Frankfurt but was changed to Offenbach when the Alte Oper management didn’t give the band enough time to assemble their equipment.  The taper posted his own recollections of the show along with the tape.  He states:

It was also a very cold day. The Stadthalle is a small venue, not comparable with the Jahrhunderthalle in Frankfurt. The little hall was very overheated due to outside weather conditions & in the beginning you can hear the crowd: “Heizung aus!, Heizung aus!” which means: “Heating off!” Then at the beginning another comment from a friend of mine: “Hey seid mal ein bißchen leise” which means “Please keep a little more quiet” to the people around us showing to our recorder which was respected then most of the time.

After a few songs there was a little talking again about the comparison to Deep Purple which we’ve seen there before: “Deep Purple ist nichts dagegen – nichts dagegen? – Deep Purple ist SCHEISS dagegen!” which translates like this: “Deep Purple is nothing against this – nothing against this? – Deep Purple is SHIT against this!”

And so it was. Pink Floyd blew us away in a style which was incredible & for me only comparable with the Nektar show from 11.11.70.

The set list is similar to the previous evening’s with “Astronomy Domine” serving as the opener.  Roger Waters gives a very nervous introduction to “Green Is The Colour” which is the most melodic and lyrical song played this night and the only respite from the long and demanding material chosen by the band to play.

“A Saucerful Of Secrets”, which could reach twenty-five minutes on any given night, is very compact in this performance reaching only sixteen minutes.  The set ends with twenty minutes of “Atom Heart Mother”.  David Gilmour complained in the press the previous November about the poor quality of the live performance of this piece with choir and orchestra because of the inability to play with the same ensemble more than twice. 

For these three dates in Germany, and for the April 3rd show in Rotterdam (Live In Rotterdam Sirene-095), Pink Floyd were accompanied by Jeffrey Mitchell directing the same brass and choir for continuity.  The first encore is “Atom Heart Mother (reprise)”, a three-minute reiteration of the main theme of the piece that was played as an encore on some dates on the English tour in December 1970. 

The final encore is the common blues piece they played all throughout their career with this version lasting six minutes.  The final two tracks on this release are the same encores taken from the other tape source that have been circulating for years.  This sounds like a soundboard recording that is in pristine quality and makes one wonder where the rest of the show is.  If the complete tape were to ever surface that would be perhaps the best Pink Floyd release from 1971.

Offenbach 1971 is a good release.  But, like with the two Siréne releases, there is not such a dramatic improvement to force one to replace them with this.  For those who haven’t yet heard this show, this is a good opportunity to own a nice silver pressed edition.

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