Pink Floyd – The Arms Of Vancouver (Sigma 56)

The Arms Of Vancouver (Sigma 56)

After concluding their Winter tour of the UK with shows in Bristol and at the Marquee in London, Pink Floyd took a four month break before bringing their new songs to North America for the first time.  They played thirteen shows in April starting with a gig in the Pacific National Exhibition Park in Vancouver, British Columbia. 

The setlist was similar to the previous tour by featuring the new songs for an hour, then the complete Dark Side Of The Moon after a twenty minute intermission.  “Echoes,” the sole older number, would serve as the encore.  But the difference is that, in the intervening four months, the band wrote the new song “Have A Cigar” and decided to insert it between parts five and six of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”  The live debut of the song and the new arrangement occurred in Vancouver. 

The press were not enthusiastic for the show.  The Vancouver Sun, in a review titled “Pink Floyd:  Like Technicians for the land of Gadgetry,” claimed all their equipment changed the Coliseum into “psychedelic concrete earphones.”  The author called the music simple but the crowd enjoyed the gimmicks and that overall it was a “fitfully pleasing, consistently dull show.”  The thrashing is almost as bad as the final show of the tour in June when they played in Hamilton, Ontario.  It seems that Canada really hates Pink Floyd.

The Arms Of Vancouver, the new release on Sigma, features two complete audience recordings spread out over six discs.  The label could be criticize the label for doing this, but they are trying to be as comprehensive as possible.  One of the tapes has been pressed before on a rather well known title but the other makes its silver pressed debut.  But this isn’t simply a collection with two unique tape sources.  One has been used to fill in the gaps in the other, so it’s in reality two edits of the two tape sources.   

Pacific National Exhibition Park, Vancouver, Canada – April 8th, 1975 source #1

Disc 1 (61:11):  Raving And Drooling, You Gotta Be Crazy, Shine On You Crazy Diamond Part 1-5, Have A Cigar, Shine On You Crazy Diamond Part 6-9

Disc 2 (59:57):  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

Disc 3 (26:07):  audience, Echoes

The first three discs contain a very good but incomplete audience recording which has never been used before.  The second tape source is used from 12:18 in “Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 1-5” to the end of the first half of the show which includes “Have A Cigar” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 6-9” to the fade at the end.  It’s also missing “Speak To Me” at the beginning of disc two, but picks up at the beginning of “Breathe.”  Source two is again edited in again 5:38 in “The Great Gig In The Sky” to 1:58 in “Money” (right before the saxophone solo).

Pacific National Exhibition Park, Vancouver, Canada – April 8th, 1975 source#2

Disc 4 (63:27):  Raving And Drooling, You Gotta Be Crazy, Shine On You Crazy Diamond Part 1-5, Have A Cigar, Shine On You Crazy Diamond Part 6-9

Disc 5 (58:56)  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

Disc 6 (25:56):  audience, Echoes

Discs four to six contain the same tape used for Azimuth Coordinator.  Four songs, “Raving And Drooling,” “You Gotta Be Crazy,” “Have A Cigar” and “Echoes” appear on Vancouver  1975 (SACEM 091-013).  It is more distant than the first and has some hiss present, but there is also more emphasis upon the lower frequencies than the first tape.  “Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 6-9” has the last few notes cut off in the recording. 

The show begins with a pre-show tape before “Raving And Drooling” with the Irving Berlin tune whistle.  It’s not too audible on this show but on the tape for the next show in Seattle, it’s very clear and can be heard on Dark Side Last Tour (Highland HL571/572).  Pink Floyd deliver a very slow and tentative rendition of the song.  “You Gotta Be Crazy” fares a bit better.  It has more liveliness to it an the dream-scape created by the guitar melody works well in both recordings.

Roger Waters tells the audience that the next song is about Syd Barrett (and he pronounces the last last name barr-ETT).  For the first performance of the core of Wish You Where Here, it shows how much they rehearsed during the interim in live performance.  The transitions between the two “Shine On” with “Have A Cigar” are seamless. 

“Have A Cigar” also is very rehearsed and tight.  In these early versions both Gilmour and Waters share lead vocals during the verses with Waters taking the “and if we tell you the name of the game boy / we call it riding the gravy train” sections.  Also Wright’s airy keyboard melody of the studio version was not yet written.

Some kind of communication breakdown occurs around part eight of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 6-9.”  Gilmour’s guitar disappears in the mix leaving Waters to doodle around on the bass guitar until he comes in again to complete the song.  On the whole the audience’s reaction to the material is a tepid appreciation.  The first two new songs especially sound very much like what they are:  a sequel to Dark Side Of The Moon exploring in more concrete musical and thematic themes the affects madness has upon the artist.

The audience’s reaction to the second half of the show is much louder and genuine.  Dark Sidewas their biggest hit and enabled them to fill venues such as the PNC in Vancouver.  Many in the audience were to hear them perform the album.  The sounds of the effects used to punctuate the show illustrate their enthusiasm for the show. 

It also provides some opportunity for the band to jam a bit.  The first third of the set, from “Speak To Me” through the reprise of “Breathe” after “Time” is close to the studio recordings, but Wright interjects new ideas into “The Great Gig In The Sky.”  Gilmour likewise has fun during “Money” when they extend the guitar solo by some minutes.  Gilmour becomes so lost in the song that he sings “Money, get back” as the first line of the final verse, which is a mistake.  

“Us & Them” is dominated by the stately organ of Wright, but “Any Colour You Like” turns into a group jam.  Waters dominates on the bass by the ending, producing a similar situation to the ending of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 6-9.”

Waters tells the audience they’ll sing “Echoes” as an encore “if we can remember it” he jokes.  The twenty five minute epic sounds extremely tight and adventurous.  Overall this isn’t the best show from the spring 1975 tour, and there are certainly better sounding tapes available.  But for an opening nights it improves as it goes on and is nice to hear the live debut of “Have A Cigar,” one of their best live numbers.  The Arms Of Vancouver is packaged in a fatboy jewel case with Waters on the cover lighting a cigarette.   

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  1. Even its predecessor “Azimuth Coordinator (Part 1)”, which doesn’t sound highly impressive in terms of overall sound quality, still beats the hell out of the psychological torture that one might endure by having to listen to the trashy Ke$ha’s debut album “Animal”.


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