The Great Gig In The Budokan (Sigma 88)
That Pink Floyd were able to earn millions of dollars in the late eighties by touring the world isn’t very impressive. They could have toured on a nostalgia trip, playing their classics for millions of screaming fans. But what was impressive is they released Momentary Lapse Of Reason which, unlike their previous effort The Final Cut, was actually pretty good.
Three singles were released and all did well, plus their video for “Learning To Fly” has consistent airplay on MTV. Pink Floyd were relevant for the first time since The Wall.
In early 1988 they visited Japan for the first time in sixteen years, playing eight shows in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. The Great Gig In The Budokan on Sigma is a six disc set documenting the first two nights of the trip in the Budokan. Sigma utilize new tapes for both shows sourced from the same taper who recorded Mick Jagger, The Stones, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck which have been pressed the past couple of years.
Both tapes are excellent stereo recordings. The March 2nd show is slightly more clear than March 3rd, but it’s only a matter of a small degree and both are extremely enjoyable.
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – March 2nd, 1988
Disc 1 (65:43): Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Signs Of Life, Learning To Fly, Yet Another Movie, A New Machine Part One, Terminal Frost, A New Machine Part Two, Sorrow, The Dogs Of War, On The Turning Away
Disc 2 (67:30): One Of These Days, Time, The Great Gig In The Sky, Wish You Were Here, Welcome To The Machine, Us And Them, Money, Another Brick In The Wall Part 2, Comfortably Numb
Disc 3 (16:57): Audience, One Slip, Run Like Hell
March 2nd has been released before in the CDR collections Flashback (Ayanami-075) and At Budokan (Sirene-186). Godfather issued an excellent version of the older tape source last month on Another Lapse in Japan (GR 832/824). Sigma is slightly louder and more bass-heavy than Godfather. It would really be pedantic to argue one is superior to the other. The only compelling reasons to pick one over the other is packaging and one’s desire to have the second Budokan show.
The concert begins with “Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 1-5” and the two new songs “Signs Of Life” and the hit “Learning To Fly.” Gilmour tells the audience that the first half of the show will feature new songs and the second older tunes. The generous selection of songs from the new album sounds spectacular in a live setting.
A particular stand out is “Terminal Frost” with its moodiness evocative of classic Pink Floyd. Even the generally reviled “The Dogs Of War” sounds much better live than in studio.
The second half of the show contains their older classic tunes played close to their studio arrangements. Running in rough chronological order, the start off with “One Of These Days” from Meddle followed by “Time” and “The Great Gig In The Sky” from Dark Side. It’s interesting to hear the transitional segues into songs other than what we’re used to.
“Wish You Were Here” doesn’t move into “Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 6-9” but rather into “Welcome To The Machine.” The band breathe new life into “Welcome To The Machine.” Mason bashes new drums and Gilmour shows off “playing his mean guitar.” A return to Dark Side songs features a long version of “Money” with saxophone and a call-and-response duet between Gilmour and the “oo oo” girls in the back.
The show ends with two songs from The Wall, “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” and, after Gilmour bids the audience goodnight, “Comfortably Numb.” After a period of cheering they return for the two song encore set “One Slip” and “Run Like Hell.”
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – March 3rd, 1988
Disc 4 (65:44): Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Signs Of Life, Learning To Fly, Yet Another Movie, A New Machine Part One, Terminal Frost, A New Machine Part Two, Sorrow, The Dogs Of War, On The Turning Away
Disc 5 (70:39): One Of These Days, Time, The Great Gig In The Sky, Wish You Were Here, Welcome To The Machine, Us And Them, Money, Another Brick In The Wall Part 2, Comfortably Numb
Disc 6 (17:02): Audience, One Slip, Run Like Hell
Pink Floyd’s stage show was a massive production with many backing musicians to augment Gilmour, Mason and Wright. Also their giant screen joined them for the multi-sensory stage show. Their set list rarely changed and the performances were duplicated with professional precision. The March 3rd show in the Budokan is a twin of the previous night. It hasn’t been pressed before, so it’s a plus to finally hear the show.
If anything the band sound more enthusiastic playing in Japan than the night before. There is a lot of cheering and applause for the new material already well known and appreciated by the audience.
The Great Gig In The Budokan is packaged in a quad 6CD case with artwork from the appropriate era. It forms a nice companion piece with Signs Of Lives (Sigma 54), the six disc set Sigma released several years ago with the following two nights in the Yoyogi Olympic Pool in Tokyo. Even though the older Pink Floyd concerts receive much attention, it’s great to see nice editions of latter day Floyd shows being produced. Maybe there will be a Division Bell era show in the future?