Bowl De Luna
Hollywood, California - September 22, 1972 (HRV 012)
Philippe: It's not easy finding a show of which you can review only the audio part and yet somehow also make it relate to an issue that covers the visual side of Floyd. Fortunately, this issue also coincides with the 30th anniversary of The Dark Side of the Moon. This made the range of our choice of shows a bit narrower and in the end it was inevitable to choose one of the most famous in Pink Floyd history: their performance at the Hollywood Bowl on September 22, 1972.
This show is legendary not only because they debuted Dark Side Of The Moon for their L.A. fans there, a full six months before the album would be released, but also because the band gave one of their best visual shows ever. Highlights included 8 powerful searchlights beaming rays from behind the domed stage into the night sky and a huge display of fireworks at the end of the show.
While it may be that few Floyd fans have seen them play at this famous arena (this was their only performance there) many will have seen the Waters-less version of Pink Floyd playing in their own version of this stage. The stage used for Pink Floyd's 1994 World Tour was strongly reminiscent of the Hollywood Bowl.
Indeed, lighting designer Marc Brickman declared at that time that band had very fond memories of their show there in 1972 and got a nice feeling of the shape of that stage. So in the end they decided to "take the Hollywood Bowl on tour". They must indeed have had a very nice feeling of playing there, that they still remembered it still 22 years later!
We're also very fortunate that this is one of the very few shows from the 70s of which video recordings also exist. That's the good news; the bad news is that the video is nothing more than a collection of 20 minutes of short clips in terrible quality.
Most importantly, the music accompanying this footage isn't necessarily the same as that what was played, because at that time it was impossible to record audio and video simultaneously. This means that sometimes we get music from that show, but not from the song that is being shown and sometimes it's even from a different show. For the audio of "One Of These Days" they used both the 1971 BBC version and the album version.
Gerhard: And I have the terrible feeling your copy is much better than mine. What I've seen of the clips was so degraded over generations that if someone had told me I was watching an Animals -era Floyd show I would have believed them (well, apart from the music, but as you say, the music at times clearly does not match the visual).
Philippe: But this review remains mainly about the music, so we'll only refer to this video when it shows something relevant enough. As for the audio part, there are a lot of releases of this show in circulation (Crackers, Scratch The Silence, Staying Home To Watch The Rain), but we've used the revised edition (the original ran a bit too fast) of Harvested's Bowl De Luna. It has an amazing sound quality, even by today's recording standards: a crystal clear sound--even for the vocals--and perfect stereo separation. On top of that, the few parts of the recording that were missing are patched up by using a different recording of the same performance, creating the illusion that this is a complete recording. What more could you want?
Gerhard: A DVD release of the entire concert on video would be nice. ;-)
Philippe: As would be a threesome with Cameron Diaz and Natalie Portman, but that's not gonna happen either :-(
Enough with the intro, on to the music.
Gerhard: Indeed. So far I haven't been able to get a sensible word in. ;-)
"Speak To Me"
Philippe: Strangely enough, this song doesn't appear on the CD, but it's on the video nevertheless.
Gerhard: I'm also pretty sure this was on the CD re-release of Crackers. That was a 3-CD beast, which was (as far as I know) the only version to include the complete show, with all the between-song tune-ups and all the fireworks, which are mainly noticeable from the bangs and the 'oohhh's from the audience. But as the sound quality of the Crackers CD was really bad, I ditched my tape copy of it years ago, and never found it again (nor did I look too hard for it).
The absence of the in-between tune-ups and such are pretty much my only gripe with this Harvested release.
Philippe: The video shows 2 towers of strobe lights pulsating to the rhythm of the heartbeat. Apparently this was quite impressive 30 years ago, because you can hear an audience member saying "It's like a spaceship, man!" in amazement. Back in those days, the Floyd still had a reputation of a space rock band, and using their spotlights in this way must have indeed tricked some part of their audience into believing they were attending some great science-fiction experience.
Mind you, this was 5 years before Star Wars was released.
Gerhard: Of course, the spotlights chasing the sky have been used a few more times by the Floyds in order to impress the audience. Remember the WWII spotlights pointing at the sky at their London Earl's Court shows in 1973, bringing memories of the Blitz back to their older fans.
Philippe: Without "Speak to Me" this starts very suddenly. It sounds much rougher than on the album: there's no ethereal slide guitar intro, nor any gentle floating vocals. The rougher singing and guitar playing gives this track a more 'live' feel, but I still prefer the album version.
Gerhard: Yes indeed, this song (as well as much of the Dark Side set) has the rough and raw feeling to it, which is in a way kind of refreshing, as after 1972 most of what the Floyd did on stage was well polished and well rehearsed (exceptions are the early version of "Shine On" in France, and the '74 Animals bits. Even the Work In Progress ("Flickering Flame") on Roger's last tour sounded smooth and polished.
It's the little rough things like this that make RoIO collecting such a rewarding hobby. ;-)
"The Travel Sequence"
Philippe: No, not "On The Run". That wasn't to be written and recorded until late '72. Instead, they played this jazzy guitar and keyboard jam at the concerts. And it is a real beauty. It starts off immediately after "Breathe", and its fast rhythm perfectly creates the illusion of someone hurrying along, travelling. After about a minute a nice organ solo starts before the guitar takes over again. Along with the bass they work up to a wonderful climax which they sustain for a few seconds in typical Floydian style (with some terrific drumming here as well). After that the song seems to be over, but a new, slower rhythm starts. Just when you think a new section starts it fades out to the sound of the alarm clocks of "Time".
Even though "On The Run" is legendary because it was one of the first pieces of music created electronically I am quite bored with it and I much prefer its predecessor here. Too bad this was never officially released, but like you said before Gerhard, that's what makes collecting these RoIO's so interesting.
Gerhard: It's funny to note that the latter day Floyd used video footage that much better fitted the travel sequence theme, and even some of the voiceovers from "On The Run" are more apt when seen in the light of (airport) travel, than the fugitive on the run for the police image.
"Time" and "Breathe (Reprise)"
Philippe: In earlier versions of this tune, the vocal parts were performed at a much slower pace, making it sound quite boring. Fortunately by now it is played as fast as on the album, creating the effect that time is indeed passing on too fast.
Gerhard: Roger once said in an interview that there was a serious lack of fear that they would bore the audience within Pink Floyd, which was evident in the early live versions of "Time" and the slowness feeling permeates much of the Wish You Were Here album.
Philippe: The drum solo sounds a bit too quiet, but the soaring guitar solo is some first-class stuff (not the last brilliant performance of Mr. Gilmour on this show). The fact that this sounds so much like the album shows how well the Floyd had planned out their work before finally releasing it.
"The Great Gig In The Sky"
Philippe: In previous concerts, this track was called "The Mortality Sequence", a track of people talking about death while Rick played a sad organ tune.
By now however this track is much more like the final version. Even though Claire Torry wouldn't record her vocals for this until January 1973 there aren't many differences in this performance: the changes in rhythm and mood are already there. Sometimes they use Roger's bass and sometimes Rick's synths instead of the vocal. A very nice different take on this classic tune.
It ends with a piano solo that slowly fades into the sound of cash registers of...
Philippe: And so starts yet another (overly?) familiar song. Once again, there are few differences from the album version, except that the sax is replaced by a keyboard solo. What makes this version so much fun is Gilmour's habit of forgetting the lyrics creeps up again here: this time he manages to sing the line "Money, get back" 3 times!!
"Us And Them"
Philippe: It's not quite clear to me who sings this one--Dave or Roger?
Gerhard: I think it's actually Rick Wright (together with Roger) who does the vocals here, whereas in later shows it was Rick and Dave. (Although it could be Rick and Dave already here, it's hard to tell.)
Bowl de Luna
The Hollywood Bowl, September 22, 1972 Disc 1 Disc 2
Philippe: The biggest difference to the album here (besides once again replacing the sax solos with keyboard solos) is that they couldn't use the echo effect on the vocals at the end of each verse, so they sing something like ah-hah instead. Good thing they decided to go with the echoes on the album!
"Any Colour You Like"
Philippe: No fancy synthesizers on this one: apparently those were still a bit too expensive to take on the road, but that would soon change. Instead, this tune is mostly played using a strange effect on Gilmour's guitar.
Gerhard: And it is this guitar work that makes this tune such a pleasure to listen to. Having heard so many different versions of this tune, it's nice to hear the pre-release version again.
Philippe: Big kudos to the Harvested team here, because the original recording of this track had a few gaps in it, but they were able to fill all these up with bits from another recording. It's noticeable because there is a significant drop in sound quality, but the transitions are done seamlessly.
Gerhard: I know Crackers was pretty bad in this respect.
"Brain Damage" & "Eclipse"
Philippe: Always a great way to end a Dark Side of the Moon set, and this performance is no different. The biggest difference is once again the absence of synths, this time in the bridge between the 2 songs.
On the video we can see that at the climax a large globe is lit up just like the sun and it is eclipsed by a smaller round object in front of it. As the Big Ben gong resonates, signifying the end of the first set, the 'sun' slowly dims away.
Philippe: I'm not a big fan of most live versions of Dark Side Of The Moon. The album was so brilliantly produced that any attempt to recreate its complex sound layers live on stage was almost always doomed to fail. Therefore I never really can enjoy the performances from 1973, and especially '74 and '75. However, these shows from 1972 are different because they show the piece as a work in progress. You can hear stuff that wouldn't appear on the album and over the course of a few shows its progress is very distinctive. And almost every performance is played with a lot of vigor and enthusiasm that is lacking on most of the post-release performances of the album. This is why the 1972 Dark Side shows are my favorite, and this performance is among the better ones.
Gerhard: Ah yes, I know the feeling.
Other recommended performances from '72 are:
--The first 2 shows: the incomplete one (Brighton 20jan72), and the one with only "Brain Damage" but no "Eclipse" (21jan72)
--The 1dec72 French radio broadcast from St Ouen (if only because of its sound quality).
The March 1973 versions of Dark Side are actually well worth checking out, for the extended synth jamming on "On The Run". It sounds like all 3 of them (Roger, Dave and Rick) each crawl behind a synth and start fiddling and experimenting with it. Later in '73 they started to stick more to the original versions, but the March versions are pretty nice.
Philippe: I'd also like to add the May 1973 Earl's Court shows. The performance there reveals that those shows really meant a lot to the band.
"One Of These Days"
Philippe: Nice though the first set was, the real fun is in the classics of the second half. It starts off with what must be the fastest version of "One Of These Days" ever! Everyone seems to be in top form for this, never relenting and always keeping a very tight pace, even during the 'calm' middle section.
That middle section is one of my favorite parts of this show, mainly because of Gilmour's slide guitar which is always ominously present, and which--along with Rick--builds up to a wonderful climax, before playing on for another 2 intense minutes.
"Careful With That Axe, Eugene"
Philippe: A great rendition. It starts off quietly and slowly as usual, taking ages to build up to the climax and creating some beautiful, haunting, atmospheric soundscapes in the process. When the climax finally does arrive, Roger's scream even overloads the speakers or recording equipment briefly. And David unleashes the beast in him and plays some of the best guitar--certainly his most intense--I've ever heard him play. It's simply mind-boggling how he can bend all those notes!
This is where you'll find my favorite "Axe".
Gerhard: I'll have to agree and disagree with you on this. The second set is certainly more enjoyable (to me at least) than the first one. And "Eugene" is indeed a brilliant version, but it doesn't come close to the mayhem that gets unleashed in Boeblingen (November 15, 1972).
Philippe: I stand corrected: the Boeblingen performance is indeed superior to this, because it's a much better band performance, and Roger's pictish rant in the build-up is worth collecting that show alone! But I still think Gilmour's guitar work at the Hollywood Bowl is better than Boeblingen.
Philippe: It is well known that the arrangement and structure of "Echoes" live was never any different than the album version. The only thing that makes it sound different is the live feel of it. Most of the times this was something very special and this is certainly not an exception.
Gerhard: With the odd exception due to equipment failure and such. Wasn't it the Montreux version where Dave breaks a string (or whatever) and cannot play his guitar for a bit, and Roger and Rick repeat the riff they are playing a couple of times (with minor variations) until finally Dave kicks in?
Having said that, there isn't much wrong with "Echoes" as it was, and having to listen to more or less the same version over and over again is not a big punishment.
Philippe: The intro in itself is a piece of beauty: for two minutes you can only hear the very quiet sounds of Rick's organ, Dave's slide guitar, and Roger's bass, and all the while not a single sound can be heard from the crowd. This must be that "magical connection with the audience" Roger talked about in 1999.
Another highlight is the guitar solo after the second verse. Dave once again plays his heart out with a blistering solo. Make no mistake about it: this was his night!
A nice moment happens in the funky middle section when Dave apparently forgets to push in his pedal so that for a few seconds we hear a 'normal' guitar sound instead of the usual fuzzy one. Nice to hear these little mistakes now and again.
On the video we can see the marvelous effect of the band almost hidden in a layer of pink smoke which once again shows their original visual ideas in this era.
The build-up to the climax before the final verse will always remain one of my favorite pieces of music of all time. Played live, it is also very intense, although it never reaches the same level as on the album.
Nevertheless, no matter in what shape or form, any performance of "Echoes" is always pure bliss.
I'm still bummed that they decided to drop "Echoes" from the setlist in '87 (mainly because the audience reacted badly to it, and Dave felt silly singing about albatrosses, but even so).
"A Saucerful Of Secrets"
Philippe: This was to be the penultimate performance of "A Saucerful of Secrets", and the band must have planned for it to go out with a bang (literally and figuratively) because it is played perfectly. From the eerie opening giving way to Nick's frantic drumming in "Syncopated Pandemonium" (which must also be one of the fastest versions ever) it then proceeds to the calm ("Storm Signal") before the storm that is "Celestial Voices".
Gerhard: Are you sure you weren't listening to a sped up version of this show? ;-)
But yes, they're pretty much playing all my Floyd faves one after another, and having "A Saucerful of Secrets" follow directly after "Echoes" is always nice. It's hard to say why, but the mood of the two songs make it so that "Saucerful" following "Echoes" works just perfectly: the calm of "Echoes" more or less functions as a prelude to the battlefield of the opening of "Saucerful".
Philippe: "Celestial Voices" is once again built up perfectly: for a long while you only hear Rick's organ until Dave's slide chimes in and the tension is gradually going towards a crescendo. But in true Floydian fashion they succeed in delaying that climax as long as possible and when Gilmour finally starts to scream his heart out (though his voice isn't in the best form here) they're able to sustain that tension for quite a while. When the song finally does end it coincides with a magnificent display of huge fireworks (clearly audible on the audio and visible on the video).
Its effect on the crowd must have been absolutely overwhelming.
This is not the most adventurous performance of "Saucerful", but definitely one of the tightest.
Gerhard: For a more adventurous performance I suggest you dig up the copy of "Take Linda Surfing" (Hamburg 25feb71), and listen to the almost 20-minute version that is available there.
Philippe: You may want to upgrade your collection, Gerhard. There was a better and more complete recording of this show called M-502 weeded two years ago.
"Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun"
Philippe: After this terrific tour de force the band returns for this encore and after the magnificent renditions of the earlier songs it sounds almost anticlimactic, at least until the unrelentless buildup to the zenith. Judging from the audience reactions this must also have been quite the visual showcase (fireworks once again? a flaming gong?), but it's not quite clear what happens because there isn't any clear relation between the visual and audio parts on the video.
Gerhard: It's hard to say what goes on onstage. The flaming gong was usually part of "Eugene" wasn't it?
Philippe: Nope. Lots of explosions and smoke during "Careful With That Axe, Eugene", but the flaming gong was definitely part of "Set The Controls"
After that the middle part featuring Rick drags on a bit too long to be really enjoyable. Not even the final verse can recreate the previous tension.
But that doesn't take anything away from the fact that this is a magnificent concert. It doesn't happen that often that a near-perfect performance was also recorded in near-perfect sound quality. And for that this show will probably forever remain in my top 5 Pink Floyd live recordings. If you're going to collect only a few Pink Floyd RoIOs this one simply can't be missing from your collection!
Gerhard: This is certainly one of the essential Floyd RoIOs from 1972. It is however not in my top 5, simply because 1972 is not in my top 5 of best Floyd years. ;-)
But if you like Dark Side of the Moon (and who doesn't?) and you are curious to find out how it sounded before it sounded like it sounds now, do check out this show.
It should be found for trade from your favorite Floyd hangout. Don't waste money on buying this stuff. Save your money for the 30th-anniversary edition of Dark Side of the Moon (and the 35th-anniversary edition, the 40th-anniversary backward master, and the 50th-anniversary 24-track mix-it-yourself SDVD versions that will be released in 2008, 2013, and 2023 respectively).