Spring Festival (Golden Eggs EGG 93/94)
Syria Mosque Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA – April 20, 1972
Disc 1 (44:20) Speak To Me, Breathe (In The Air), On The Run, Time, Mortality Sequence, Money, Us And Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage
Disc 2 (43:37) One Of These Days, Tune Up, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Tune Up, Echoes
There is reason to get excited when a title comes out featuring a recording you don’t have and has never been released on CD prior, such is the case with Pink Floyd Spring Festival from the Golden Eggs label. Like many collectors I tire of labels constantly releasing the same old shows while there are many good recordings that get no attention and would make fine releases. So when a previously non-booted show comes up, and being from Pink Floyd in 1972, it’s time to celebrate.
The concert featured here comes from the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the famed Syria Mosque, an intimate 3,700 seat theater in the Oakland neighborhood of the city. Like many old buildings built in the early 1900’s, it was sadly torn down and turned into a parking lot. The theater had a rich history of presenting the Arts in the form of plays, Opera, comedy, and music with Classical, Jazz and Rock all being represented. I was lucky enough to have seen a concert at the Syria Mosque, Billy Idol on his Rebel Yell tour in January 1984. If I am not mistaken, the last recorded concert by Duane Allman with the Allman Brothers Band was at this venue in October 1971, just two weeks before his untimely death.
Pink Floyd would play the theater twice, November 19, 1971 and April 21, 1972, after the release and success of Dark Side Of The Moon the band would return to the city yet play the larger Civic Arena in 1973 and massive Three Rivers Stadium in 1975. This new release features the band’s performance in the spring of 1972 when they played as part of the KQV Spring Festival of Rock presented by radio station KQV. There is only one recording from this show and it is incomplete, the taper probably brought only one 90 minute cassette so the Dark Side suite ends 1:30 into Brain Damage eliminating the rest of the song and Eclipse, the second set recording ends 18:15 into Echoes.
The recording is a very good audience source, the taper sounds close to the stage and the sound is clear and detailed, the instruments and vocals are discernible, although the drums are the lowest in the mix and at times lost in the sound. It does have some hiss present and the frequency range is limited to the middle of the spectrum giving it a somewhat flat sound. Like many recordings that circulated in trading circles, different generations have different sound characteristics, the version here is the best of what circulates yet its generation is unknown, the master tape does not circulate.
The first half of the concert is the Dark Side Of The Moon suite, the recording picks up during the heartbeat introduction and “chapter 5 verses 15-33” and some faint crowd anticipation can be heard and they give the band a nice ovation when they take the stage. Breathe is very laid back and a bit tentative, On The Run is more focused as Rick Wright and David Gilmour get into the groove, Rick’s keys are solid in the recording and we can really enjoy what he is playing as well as adding via the soundscapes. The pre recorded effects are in their infancy too, the tick tock of Time sounds almost rudimentary, Nick’s drums are low in the mix at the beginning but thankfully get louder as the song progresses. After the first verse it begins to sound completely disjointed, Rick starts the transition into the Breathe reprise too early causing the whole band to lose their timing and struggle to finish the song!
I love The Mortality Sequence, the biblical readings and rants by Malcolm Muggeridge inserted over Rick’s organ and at times, the sounds of a rooster lends to the vast aural painting the group is creating and must have been almost shocking to some in attendance. Money has the full band back proper and is quite dynamic, even at this early stage the song has a certain swing to it. I often wonder if David was imaging some of the leads would actually be saxophone at some point, as usual his most fiery playing of the first half is during Money. Rick plays a few floating notes that pull the band down to Earth and they begin the transition into Us And Them. The song walks the fine line between the melancholy and the bombastic, the spoken word tape in the middle sounds quite interesting, the sound moves around a bit during this song although I am unsure if it’s the band’s sound system or taper.
Any Colour You Like is led by Dave, it builds in speed and texture much like his previous guitar driven opus Fat Old Sun, he even does some scat vocalization typical for this period. The recording fades out “And if there is no room upon the hill…” and when one puts on disc 2 fades into the windstorm beginning of One Of These Days. The soundscape in the middle bass echo section is prime Gilmour/Wright goodness, incredible how sound can paint a picture in your mind. Dave’s guitar is buried in the fast section and Rick keys are dominant in the mix, quite interesting to hear, then the mix changes again and the keys are gone and guitar is front and center, all thanks to the Azimuth Coordinator.
The audience is quite patient during the minute and half tune up prior to Careful With That Axe, Eugene. As the many times and different versions of this song I have heard, I never tire of it, especially in the 72 versions. The atmosphere the band creates is remarkable, from Roger’s bass and silent screams over Nick’s cymbal works, Dave’s guitar and scat vocals and Rick’s creepy organ, haunting to say the least. At the 4:10 mark Dave does an extended scat line and Roger gets under him with an aggressive bass line all the while the tension builds until we are on the edge then it erupts in a violent lashing of sound and screams. Roger says a quiet thank you as the audience gives the band a loud ovation, the song seems to have woken them as they are a bit more animated during the tune up. When the band is ready Roger says “this is called Echoes”, the crowd applauds then gets deathly quiet for the beginning of the song, quite cultured. There are some brief PA problems about 4 minutes into the song and while it is not complete, Echoes has the best sound of the entire tape, even Nick’s drums are quite audible. A really enjoyable performance in front of a wonderful crowd.
The packaging is the standard tri gatefold sleeve with the art work featuring a take on the Spring Festival pamphlet. The cover also pays homage to the Syria Mosque with photos of both the exterior and interior of the venue. There are liner notes by The Fish Bowl Swimmer and an insert featuring a reproduction of the aforementioned Spring Festival pamphlet. Another superb example of what can be done when the extra effort is put forth, well thought out packaging coupled with excellent subject matter combined to make a superb release.