Victor’s Montreux (Sigma 60)
Altes Casino, Montreux, Switzerland – November 21st, 1970
Disc 1 (71:33): Astronomy Domine, Fat Old Sun, Cymbaline, Atom Heart Mother, The Embryo, Green Is The Colour
Disc 2 (58:45): Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, A Saucerful Of Secrets, bar blues, more blues. Bonus track, Altes Casino, Montreux, Switzerland – November 22nd, 1970: Interstellar Overdrive
Pink Floyd played two shows in Montreux in November 1970. Both concerts were recorded by EMI and selections of the two were released on promotion acetates. The professional recording has been released several times before, most recently on Atom Hearted Montreux (Tarantura TCDPF-001-1,2) and Swiss Made (Siréne-198).
Victor’s Montreux is sourced from the amazing quality stereo audience tape of Pink Floyd’s set that night. Named after the taper, this surfaced in November 2009. There are some imperfections with the tape. “Fat Old Sun” has a tape speed up at the beginning as does “Atom Heart Mother” at 6:27. “Green Is The Colour” is cut after three and a half minutes eliminating “Careful With That Axe, Eugene,” and there is a cut at 17:03 in “A Saucerful Of Secrets” eliminating some of the “Celestial Voices” section.
Dating the two Montreux shows is still terribly confusing, but it seems that the encore for the first night are the blues numbers and the second is probably “Interstellar Overdrive.” Sigma hedge their bets by including that song as a bonus track after the blues numbers, even though it is incomplete and runs out after eleven minutes.
The show, lasting more than two hours, is characterized by very long, ethereal, unsettling arrangements of the songs. The tape begins with Roger Waters introducing the first song, “Astronomy Domine.” Picking up the instruments beautifully, it’s easy to hear the thumping bass underneath David Gilmour’s guitar, sounding very lively and creative.
Gilmour has the next two songs, a gentle “Fat Old Sun” and a very long and abrasive “Cymbaline.” The band sound best in their attempts at improvisation in the longer numbers. The recording is very good at picking up and conveying the vagaries of their ideas, especially in “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” and the long “A Saucerful Of Secrets.”
The encores contain the two extended blues improvisations. They are the normal blues they would occasionally play. Blues was not a genre they particularly exploited, and it’s banality stands in stark contrast to all that came before in during the show.
Sigma include “Interstellar Overdrive” from the following night. Unfortunately it is incomplete, but it too has some very interesting improvisatory passages unique to this period of their history.
Victor’s Montreux is a great sounding recording, packaged in a double slimline jewel case. The artwork for this, as with all of their releases, is very attractive. This is one of the best sounding recordings from 1970 for Pink Floyd and is an essential tape to own to hear and understand what they were doing at this point in time.