Pink Floyd – Soersfestival (Sirene-261)

Soersfestival (Sirene-261)

Soerser Stadium, Aachen, Germany – July 12th, 1970

Disc 1:  Astronomy Domine, Green Is The Colour, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Atom Heart Mother

Disc 2:  Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, A Saucerful Of Secrets, Interstellar Overdrive

Pink Floyd played several big outdoor festivals in the summer of 1970.  The most well known was the Bath Festival in England on June 27th followed the next day at the Kralingen Pop Festival in The Netherlands (the audience recording was released several years ago on Stamping Ground (Highland HL640/641)) on June 28th. 

Their appearance at the Soersfestival occurs about two weeks after Kralingen and has the same exact set list.  This was a three daylong open-air pop festival held in the Reiterstadion in the city of Aachen, Germany.  Other bands on the bill included Deep Purple, Free, If, Golden Earring, Traffic, Mungo Jerry, Champion Jack Dupree, Edgar Broughton Band, Taste, Hardin & York, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Van Der Graaf Generator and Peter Hammill, Caravan, and Kraftwerk early in their career. 

Pink Floyd appeared on July 12th, the final day of the event and was the final band to play.  The sound quality is fair to good and very compressed as if the recorder pointed the microphone towards one of the speakers out in the crowd instead of at the stage.  There are noticeable amounts of hiss on the top end and some points are more muffled than others.  The very beginning of “Astronomy Domine” is missing, but “Interstellar Overdrive” is complete as it is on the best versions of the tape in circulation does representing virtually the entire performance. 

This tape appears on several torrents including Aachen 12.7.70, A Heavenly Ride, Soersfestival in Aachen, and the latest version The Theme From An Imaginary Western.  Sirene use the best version originating from the cassette and is speed corrected, and the overall sound quality is much better than many collectors might lead you to believe. 

Tapes that originate from festival sets almost always have a special quality about them.  Rock in and of itself is a democratic form of pop art.  In contrast to classical music and opera, which require not only talent but also years of dedicated study to achieve its aim, rock is open to anyone who desires to play it.  Not to say that everybody has the talent, drive, and ambition to succeed, but this form of music doesn’t require specialized technical and artistic ability to play well. 

The democratic ideal is best expressed in the form of the festival, beginning in the sixties and present to the present day.  The idea that many different artists and groups coming together for a common expression transcends its origins and brings additional meaning to the music performed.  It is for this reason, by placing the performance into this context, that makes releases like this and Stamping Ground worth having.  “Astronomy Domine” serves as the opener for their two hour long set as it did with the other festivals.  “Green Is The Colour,” which by 1970 was beginning to sound very dated, is segued with “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” as was the custom. 

“Atom Heart Mother” is introduced as a sidelong song without a title from the new album coming out in August.  It was called “The Amazing Pudding” at this point, but this would actually be the final performance of the piece under that title.  It would receive its name four days later on July 16 before their “In Concert” appearance on the BBC.  This version is nineteen and a half minutes long and is played by the band only without the orchestra.

“Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” is a thirteen-minute long epic and the band does well in creating a spacey feeling in the outdoor arena.  It sounds as if the people by the recorder become impatient with the band and some muffled conversations in German can be heard throughout the performance. 

“A Saucerful Of Secrets” sounds slightly duller than the rest of the tape for some reason.  There is a small cut at 13:08 missing some seconds of music.  This version is very good, although doesn’t have the drama as the Kralingen.  The wordless vocals on the final section “Celestial Voices” are enough to send a shiver down the spine. 

“This really is the last one and this is called ‘Interstellar Overdrive.'”  This song has the potential for being a potent instrumental in Pink Floyd’s repertoire, but this version sounds tired and self-indulgent.  Perhaps the band needed a break after their performance, or maybe Gilmour ran dry of ideas? 

Regardless, Soersfestival is another interesting and ambitious release by Sirene.  Packaged in a double slimline, the inserts are thick glossy paper and the graphic design is interesting, achieving a cracked effect over common live shots of the band.  This title is limited to three hundred copies.  The Atom Heart Mother period is one which Sirene have been covering well of late and it is nice to see them cover one of the great festivals from that summer.  It is especially good to see a release of one of the more obscure ones and for that Soersfestival is worth having.

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