Rainbow Theatre, Finsbury Park, London, U.K. – February 19, 1972
Disc 1 (46:09) Intro, Breathe, Travel Sequence, Time, Breathe (reprise), The Mortality Sequence, Money, Us And Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse
Disc 2 (61:00) One Of These Days, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Echoes, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Disc 3 (62:27) Echoes, A Saucerful Of Secrets, Second Cud (Blues), Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
The Sigma label has put together a couple interesting sets documenting Pink Floyd’s concerts at London’s Rainbow Theatre in February 1972. These concerts were the official premier of their new piece of music known as The Dark Side Of The Moon. While the band had been playing it for a month, this would be its coming out party so to speak, with full attention of the musical press. Sigma has done something intriguing, collecting both sources of the third night and presented them separate in one set, hence the word document. There has been only one previous release of this material, the excellent Complete Rainbow Tapes (Godfather Box G.R. 02), a set that used the first source as a base with the second source to complete the concert.
Let’s start with Recorder 1, it is a good to very good incomplete audience source, slightly distant with just a small amount of tape hiss present. It is fairly clear with all instruments and vocals well balanced. The track listed as Intro is 30 seconds of Breathe very heavily distorted as the taper was setting up his gear, Speak To Me is missing as is the end of A Saucerful Of Secrets, Blues, and Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun. The audience is very quiet at this concert, there is virtually no crowd noise except when they are clapping or the long second set tune ups. I used the Godfather set for sound comparison, Godfather is just slightly louder and they cleaned up the tape hiss, Sigma stuck with a more natural transfer of the tape, the hiss is a little louder but has a warmer and more even sound.
Once you get past the distorted Breathe, the final minute is enjoyable and segues into The Travel Sequence, Gilmour and Wright take center stage for this rhythmic musical journey. Wright’s playing is really nice during this segment, he plays these waterfall like notes over Gilmour’s almost jazz riffs. Time begins very quiet, a singular clock ticks and the band sound hesitant and lost, Gilmour enters vocally too soon leading to the disjointed feel, but once they get into it the rest of the song is very together, Dave makes up for his flub with a searing solo. The Mortality Sequence is quiet, it is difficult to hear the recorded voices in the first half, the whole piece has a rather bland feel to it. Money starts with no fanfare, just the cash register and Waters descending bass run. Dave plays another great solo and the band is really swinging, the song is certainly the highlight of the performance. Us And Them is very strong, Dave and Rick’s vocals are nice and during the chorus, Nick Mason’s drumming is very bombastic. Any Colour is rather short, Brain Damage is really good until 3:09 where the band pretty much stops, the audience are dumbfounded and just begin to react. Thankfully the band and crew get it together yet much of the momentum is lost.
The band takes a break and return with One Of These Days, the beginning is uneven as it sounds like our taper had to get his equipment into position. The older material gives the band a chance to let loose, One Of These Days is a great start. Careful with That Axe, Eugene is brilliant, the beginning is very quiet, Roger talks to his inner Eugene softly and it’s really creepy, in a good way. The violent attack comes from nowhere and sounds almost like a dream with Dave’s scat vocalization and psychedelic guitar floating over Mason’s heartbeat like drumming…superb. There is a curious cut repeat at the beginning of Echoes, surprised this was added or the label simply neglected to clean it up. Echoes is superb, curious to hear as the beginning has some nice small flourishes from Wright, ever the improviser. The song is still young and it’s obvious the band still enjoy playing it, they play like they are in no rush and the music just flows. A Saucerful Of Secrets cuts at the 10:29 mark, that’s it for source 1.
Recorder 2 is a very good source that borders on excellent. The taper sounds a bit closer to the stage and certainly had a better recording device and media. Clear and detailed with very little hiss, it does have a few sporadic drop outs as well, the recording picks up the atmosphere inside The Rainbow perfectly. The story is the taper lost the other tapes from this concert and sadly this is all that circulates. There are cuts as well, first at 18:03 in Echoes, 13:03 in A Saucerful Of Secrets, and the recording ends with the final few seconds of Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun missing as well as between every song with the tuning cut and thankfully none of the music. The sound of Recorder 2 is almost identical on both Godfather and Sigma, I detected no real differences to note.
It is far easier to fully enjoy A Saucerful Of Secrets on this recording, the clarity of the recording makes it more detailed as well, parts of the Celestial Voices is marred from where the tape was eaten, it is not bad and thankfully not as bad as it could have been. Blues is interesting, very loose sounding with both Mason and Wright showing some nice chops. The last song is an ethereal 13 minute Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, the middle soundscape section is the aural definition of the term Space Rock and is beautifully played.
The packaging is typical Sigma, color inserts with pictures from 1972 on the covers. There is the numbered sticker and pictures on the discs, typical fare all housed in a fat boy jewel case. This is a very reasonably priced and attractive set that offers a way to have the complete and unedited recordings, and certainly appeals to the completist Floyd collectors.