Yeeshkul (Sigma 80)
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, ON, Canada – March 11th, 1973
Disc 1 (64:39): Echoes, Obscured By Clouds, When You’re In, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Careful With That Axe Eugene
Disc 2 (59:48): Speak To Me, Breathe, On The Run, Time, Breathe (reprise), The Great Gig In The Sky, Money, Us & Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse, sound check, One Of These Days
Pink Floyd’s March 11th, 1973 Toronto show is one of the better sounding documents from the spring tour. This show roughly coincides with the release of Dark Side Of The Moon (released on March 24th, 1973) and their ascension into rock super-stardom. The press gave this show very good reviews. The Toronto Globe And Mail reported the music was “transplanted San Francisco acid rock complete with a middle sixties style psychedelic light show” and The Toronto Star claimed “the machinery stole the show.”
The audience recording has very nice sound quality. It is in beautiful stereo, full of dynamics and gives a clear, powerful and three-dimensional record of the performance that night. The tape has two minor cuts. The very beginning of “Echoes” is cut off omitting the “pings” and a small cut at twenty-nine seconds in “The Great Gig In The Sky.”
It is also well known as the “yeeshkul” concert because the taper shouts that between many of the numbers (and also belches). Nobody has been able to give a satisfactory explanation of that word, but it is useful for distinguishing this show from all the others on this tour.
Previous commercial releases of this tape include A Lunar Eclipse (HL544/545) on Highland and Maple Prisms (STTP 144/145) on Shout To The Top. The former runs at an incorrect tape speed (too slow) and the latter sounds very flat and lifeless. Obscure Night (Siréne-171) ran at the correct speed and has really nice depth and presence.
The new Yeeshkul on Sigma is similar to Obscure Night. It lacks the depth and power, but compensates with more definition and is noticeably more clear. It’s impossible to say which is better. The final determination is one’s personal preference.
The previous year Pink Floyd dedicated the first half of the show to the Dark Side Of The Moon suite but moved it to the second half of the show at the album’s release. The opening song of the first set changed from show-to-show. In Toronto they chose to open with the twenty-four minute epic “Echoes.”
The band didn’t carry a saxophonist on the spring tour so some songs lose their power. “Echoes” sounds much heavier and abrasive than other versions with full instrumentation. They follow with the medley of “Obscured By Clouds” and “When You’re In.” Taken from their latest soundtrack work, it will be moved to the set opener in the next following this and will stay there for the rest of the year. The pastoral drone in contrast with the barbaric drums make it a compelling live piece.
“Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” impresses the taper, judging his reaction at the end. The final song of the first set is “Careful With That Axe, Eugene.” It is played a bit quicker than the previous year, zipping along with more articulate vocalisations in the long improvisation. Roger Waters’ scream is less blood-curdling than before, but it still gains a reaction from the crowd.
Pink Floyd didn’t play Toronto in 1972 so this is the debut of Dark Side in the city. By this time it is in its definitive form and is received enthusiastically. The first side of the album is quite intense. The audience in particular enjoys the VCS lead “On The Run” and the attendant light show.
“Money” sounds limp without the saxophone. During the sax’s solo, the band play the song as an instrumental. Gilmour comes in with his solo at the appropriate spot. They should have jammed a bit there and make the song more interesting. “Us & Them” also takes on a different tone without the saxophone. Richard Wright’s keyboards take control of the song, turning it into a depressing, nihilistic tone-poem without the saxophone’s elaboration.
“Any Colour You Like” is short and sharp, just like the studio cut and the entire piece ends with “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse.” The only encore is a raving performance of “One Of These Days.”
Toronto is a very good show. The older songs in the first set and the encore fare much better than the Dark Side Of The Moon suite. The audience react much better to them and the band themselves seem to be more interested in the older songs. Given the sound quality and high quality of the performance, Yeeshkul is one of the best Pink Floyd titles to have. It may not be clearly better than the Siréne but is still worth investigating, especially for these who do not have the older ones.