Time Travels With Pink Floyd

by Vernon Fitch


*** originally published in Brain Damage magazine, issue #38, March / April 1996 ***

© copyright 1995


Throughout the long and colorful history of Pink Floyd, the band has given us many incredible live concert performances. And for years, fans have reminisced about their amazing concert experiences and discussed the legendary concerts of Pink Floyd lore. Imagine what it would be like if you could go back in time to witness some of these spectacles as they happened. Just which shows would you choose to attend?

I thought it would prove interesting to pose this question to a diverse group of Pink Floyd fans. To accomplish this, I posted a concert poll to the assembly of Pink Floyd fans known as the ECHOES group on the Internet. This is an active group of Pink Floyd fans of all ages and backgrounds, spanning the globe. The question I presented them with was:

If you had a time machine that could take you to any six Pink Floyd concerts in the history of the band, which six concerts would you attend? Please select specific shows and specify why that particular show was picked.

The results of the poll provide not only a fascinating glimpse into the history of Pink Floyd, but also a look at what the fans of the band hold dear to them. It is interesting to note that the Animals tour holds a special place in the hearts of todayís fans. Not only were concerts from the Animals tour picked more than any other tour, but the concert selected the most was the Montreal show from July 6, 1977, with the Oakland May 9, 1977 show finishing second.

Rather than attempting to analyze the results, I think it best to let the answers speak for themselves. In order to make the list easier to follow, I have ordered the shows chronologically. After each date I indicated how many times it was selected [in brackets] and also whether that specific show was chosen as a number one pick (with an *). Shows without a number in brackets were only picked once. So without further delay, letís go time traveling with Pink Floyd!

Cambridge 1964/65
"A concert with an unknown Paul Simon, Jokers Wild with David Gilmour and Pink Floyd, including a jam between the two later."

The first concert played by Waters, Wright, Mason, Barrett and Close 1965.
"The birth of Pink Floyd."

*The Countdown Club, Palace Gate, U.K., late 1965.
"One of the earliest, if not the first, Pink Floyd concert."

*Chalk Farm Roundhouse, October 15, 1966
"IT's first "All Night Rave."

UFO Club, London, UK, December 23, 1966
"Syd, Opening night at the UFO!!!, all the weird people, Syd."
"The free form version of "Interstellar Overdrive!"

UFO Club, London January 20, 1967 [4]
"I would like to see where it all started. And I'd like to see Syd with my own eyes."
"Before Syd starting losing it. I don't want to see that - I'd much prefer to witness Barrett "the genius"."
"I'd love to see the Syd Barrett era band - hopefully Syd would still be in top form."
"A must for the wild times and body painting. Seminal Pink Floyd."

*Alexandra Palace, April 29-30, 1967 [2]
"The 14 hour Technicolor Dream."
"I would love to have attended THE underground event of 60s London. The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, the Soft Machine and Pink Floyd with Syd playing at the dawn of an era."

Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank, London, U.K., May 12, 1967 [3]
"Games for May - space age relaxation for the climax of spring. The first quadraphonic sound system in Britain was used at this show. This system, a rudimentary forerunner to the famed "azimuth co-ordinator", would later become important in the Floyd's concerts. The Pink Floyd song "See Emily Play" has a line referring to this show. Bubbles used during the show left circles on the seats and daffodils were stamped into the carpet and because of this, the Floyd were not allowed to play there again."
"Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett doing free improvisation live! And a chance to hear the original Games for May (later called See Emily Play)."
"An historic concert."

Oude-Ahoy Hallen, Rotterdam, Holland, November 12, 1967
"Syd Barrett. Should there be any other reason? And they played Interstellar Overdrive."

*Their first show with both Dave and Syd 1968
"Seeing the 5-piece in January/February of 1968 is essential."

Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London, April 14, 1969
"The massed gadgets of auximenes...more furious madness from Pink Floyd, debut of "The Man/The Journey" suite, and the debut of their quad system "the azimuth co-ordinator". During this show, a silver "sea monster" walked up and down the aisles and eventually made its way onto stage."

Mother's Club April 27, 1969
"The Ummagumma show."

*Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, September 17, 1969 [6]
"The Man and The Journey is one of my favorites and I'd love to hear the Azimuth Co-oridinator in action."
"An early attempt at a concept piece, The Man the Journey, performed for radio broadcast."

Fairfield Hall, Croydon, Surrey, England, January 18, 1970 [2]
"Perhaps this is the show that set Pink Floyd on the rocky road to stardom and eventual self-destruction. The debut of "The Amazing Pudding" and of "The Violent Sequence," which contained a piano bit that they play even now, old and at the top."

Brighton Dome, Brighton, Sussex, UK January 19, 1970
"They played The Violent Sequence, Biding My Time and Main theme from More. Should have been the second time they played Atom Heart Mother (The Amazing Pudding) live."

*Town Hall, Birmingham, U.K., February 11, 1970
"Because of the strange set list (The Embryo, Main Theme from More, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Sysyphus, The Violent Sequence, Set the Controls, Atom Heart Mother)"

Fillmore West, San Francisco, April 29, 1970
"What a great set list (Grantchester Meadows, Astronomy Dominie, Cymbaline, Atom Heart Mother with orchestra, The Embryo, Green is the Colour & Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set the Controls, A Saucerful of Secrets)"
"Atom Heart Mother with full choir and orchestra. I love the suite, and Echoes is my fave song."

Festival de Musique Classique, Altes Casino, Montreux, September 18, 1970
"This show contains a nice mix of classic early songs which I've always wanted to see Pink Floyd perform - Astronomy Domine, Interstellar Overdrive, Green is the Color/Careful with ..., plus a few less commonly played numbers like The Embryo and Fat Old Sun. Finally, I'm really curious about what was going on on-stage during Cymbaline with all the footsteps and such."

Pepperland, San Rafael, California, October 17, 1970
"For this one, I'd make sure I got a seat exactly in the middle of the audience...not too close so as I don't worry about my hearing, and not too far away that I can't catch the vocal on Green is the Colour. Coupled with Cymbaline and the recently released Atom Heart Mother, if this isn't orgasmic...I must be impotent!"

Royal Albert Hall, London, February 6, 1971
"Another very good performance, and it included Libest Spacement."

Garden Party, Crystal Palace, London, May 15, 1971 [2]
"I get to see a selection of faves like Fat Old Sun, The Embryo, Careful With That Axe Eugene and what might have been the debut of Echoes, or Return of the Son... or whatever they were calling it at that point."
"I wanna see what killed those fish! Maybe I can save them this time."

Sportpalast, Berlin, June 5, 1971 [2]
"A Show with the original Echoes Lyrics. Well, again, just something different. Seeing a show with Echoes (not to mention the original lyrics) would also give me an opportunity to see and hear their earlier material and experience some of its live power. It would probably give me a whole new respect for the Floyd, and I would get to hear Echoes!"

Montreux Jazz Festival September 18, 1971
"I would like to see Echoes live at least once in my life, and with the exception of Pompeii, this is the best version I've ever heard. Set rounds out with my older favorites - A Saucerful of Secrets, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, Atom Heart Mother. And I'd also like to know just what the hell was in the Cymbaline film (running, doors slamming). Well behaved audience."

Golden Hall, San Diego, October 17, 1971
"This show has my favorite Cymbaline, together with a wonderful Atom Heart Mother and Set the Controls."

Paris Theater, London, September 30, 1971
"A great version of Echoes. Crowd with an accent."

Amphitheater, Pompeii , Italy, October 4-7, 1971 [4]
"Ever since I saw the film, I wondered what it would have been like to be sitting there, the only fan in the place, watching that."
"I wonder if the crew knows how lucky they were."

Lisner Auditorium, Washington D.C. November 14, 1971
"Just an awesome show."

*Taft Theater, Cincinnati, Ohio, November 20, 1971 [3]
"My first Pink Floyd show and one I'd like to relive. The longest Embryo and the last in the U.S. for what I know. A great Echoes and some Pink Blues to wrap it up."

Rainbow Theater, London, February 17, 1972 [3]
"Press Premier of Dark Side of the Moon."
"Just a chance to see Dark Side live would be killer, but I would like to hear and see how it would sound in its original format."
"The pre-release Dark Side of the Moon, played in London to critical acclaim."

Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, California, September 22, 1972
"Floyd in the Hollywood Bowl doing Dark Side. Great show!"

Sporthalle, Boblingen, West Germany, November 15, 1972 [2]
"Early Dark Side of the Moon and one of the greatest Eugene's ever!"

Palais des Sports, St. Ouen, France, December 1, 1972
"I wanted to see the band late in their 4-piece career, and I chose this show because Gilmour got to play Childhood's End."

Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, Missouri, March 6, 1973
"They played Childhoods End."

Radio City Music Hall, New York, March 17, 1973
"This was a great show and the Floyd's coming out party."

Earls Court, London, May 18, 1973 [2]
"Another great setlist and a Dark Side concert."
"Debut of the crashing plane."

*Rainbow Theater, London, November 4, 1973
"I knew my #1 choice would be a Dark Side of the Moon show, and while an earlier show might seem interesting, I HATE the slow version of Time. So the Dark Side show would have to be not too early, and the '94 versions don't quite catch my fancy. How am I supposed to make the choice? Well, with an encore of Obscured by Clouds and When You're In, the choice has become all that much easier."

Usher Hall, Edinburgh, November 4, 1974
"Another show which fulfills several goals. Here I am treated to newish songs Shine On and Raving and Drooling as well as the breakout of You Gotta Be Crazy. The main course is a fully augmented 70s Dark Side set, the dessert a late Echoes, though hopefully not a saxophone Echoes...let Dave play!!!"

Wembley Empire Pool, London, November 16, 1974
"Raving and Drooling and You Gotta be Crazy as well as a complete Shine On...."

Colston Hall, Bristol, December 14, 1974
"I picked this date because I like the performance of Echoes during this show above all others. The show also provides a good opportunity to see a highly rehearsed Dark Side set, as well as fairly early renditions of Raving and Drooling and Gotta be Crazy. Top it all off with Shine On You Crazy Diamond and it sounds like a dream show to me."

Nassau Coliseum, New York, June 16, 1975
"OK, so the Boston Gardens show is considered to be the epitome concert of theirs in '75, but with all those Echoesians there, this one should be less crowded."

Boston Gardens, Boston, June 18, 1975
"Yet another awesome show."

The Knebworth Festival, July 5, 1975 [2]
"Miles said it was perfect, I think others said it was beset with problems. I'd like to think it was as good as Miles said, thus Wish I Was There."
"In addition to the final performance of Dark Side with Roger, I'd like to see Roy Harper on stage with the band. Also, the whole notion of Knebworth in general intrigues me."

Tarrant County Convention Center, Fort Worth, Texas, May 1, 1977
"This is my favorite 1977 show."

****The Coliseum, Oakland, California, May 9, 1977 [9]
"The greatest Animals/Wish You Were Here show."
"Not only is this a great show, but it has the last performance of Careful With That Axe Eugene. In one sense, Roger knew that he was having troubles reaching his audience and for one moment, the band played a song from a happier time and were, for 10 minutes, the pre-Meddle Floyd."
"What I am led to believe is the -premiere- show in Floydian history. Also to hear Snowy's solo on Pigs On the Wing."
"The band seemed happy with this show. So should I be! Because it's the best performance I have ever heard from Floyd."
"Probably the most relaxed show of the tour, as well as the Careful With That Axe Eugene as an extra encore!"
"I love Animals, and would love to see it played live. Love Careful With That Axe Eugene, and would like to see how it changed through the years, and how the show reacted to it being played."
"I suppose that I would be happy seeing any show on the Animals tour, but since they added Careful With That Axe, Eugene for the encore, this would be the best one to see."

*The Coliseum, Oakland, California, May 10, 1977
"I think everyone and their brother who is into live Pink Floyd knows the legendary May 9, 1977 show by heart because of its widespread availability. For me, being transported back to see the show on the 10th would be more important because I'm curious to hear how the Floyd would follow up what had clearly been a very good night for them."
"I rank this show number one because I enjoy the 1977 tour the most."

Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio, June 25, 1977
"Yet another great performance, and this time it's outdoors."

*The Spectrum, Philadelphia, June 28, 1977
"This was the first rock concert I ever attended. The experience of Pink Floyd performing both Wish You Were Here and Animals was awesome, and for me the concert has never been surpassed."

Madison Square Garden, New York, July 2, 1977
"Great Wish You Were Here set."

*Olympic Stadium , Montreal Quebec, Canada, July 6, 1977 [10]
"The spitting incident."
"I need to be in the front row... I'll climb the fence and scream louder than the other guy, hopefully to elicit "that" response from Roger, subsequently being able to say it was because of me that The Wall was written! (just kidding) But, as this list is general, I need to see a representative show from some major tours, and this one seems the most obvious considering my love of The Wall (to see how it all began, kind of)."
"No self respecting Floyd fan would not want to see this. It is the Genesis of the Wall, and one of the more important events in rock history. Not to mention it was an Animals show..."
"In my opinion the last 'real' Pink Floyd concert with Roger. Again, slightly historical (but I wouldn't go to see the spitting incident). I'd be right in front of the soundboard."
"For me the 1977 tour represents the pinnacle of the live Pink Floyd performance, and Montreal was a pretty interesting gig. Despite all that's been said about Roger's actions at this show, I think the band sounds particularly laid back and relaxed during this show."
"Loved to have seen how Roger got pissed."
"Spitting incident show. History in the making. I'd also like my seat to be right next to the kid, so I can see Roger's spite firsthand, as closely as any human being can without marrying him and/or being the target. Also maybe I can catch some, bottle it, and sell it for a huge profit. (Hell, I could do that right outside the stadium. Wouldn't need the time machine...)"
"A fantastic, rocking performance, and of course Roger going off the deep end. Also my favorite live concert era."

*The Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California February 7, 1980 [3]
"The Wall Live, the burning curtain, the Wall Live, debut, oh did I mention that it's The Wall LIVE!!!"
"The Wall has always been my favorite album, so any performance would be a treat. The first show seems historic, more so than later concerts."

Nassau Coliseum, New York, February 27, 1980
"The Wall tour, best performance."

Nassau Coliseum, New York, February 28, 1980 [2]
"Must have been a real spectacle."
"The Wall shows are just too classic to miss seeing again. By their final show they must have been playing the material especially well."

*Earls Court, London, August 4, 1980 [4]
"The first U.K. Wall show."
"The Floyd seem to play better in London than when in the U.S. They had the U.S. dates to work out the kinks. Plus, Earls Court holds many Floyd memories and I've never been there. I chose this date because the opening night at any venue tends to be the most enthusiastic crowd, and Snowy White was with the band at that point still. Too much to pass up!"
"A WALL concert. I chose Earl's Court because it is more likely a smaller venue than Nassau or LA Sports Arena."

Westfallenhalle, Dortmund, February 19, 1981
"I wanted to include a Wall show. I've seen the band at Earls Court, and I wouldn't want to go to the Nassau Coliseum. So why not the Westfallenhalle?"

Earls Court, London, U.K., June 17, 1981
"A good time was had by all. Roger Waters made an appearance. I heard the front act was a lot like Pink Floyd!"

JFK Stadium, Philadelphia PA, September 19, 1987
"They played Echoes at this show, plus they played One Slip and I like that song in concert. The bass solo is cool."
"Echoes is such a cool song. The 1987 tour revamped a lot of songs, some for the better, some for the worse. I would just like to hear how this song sounds more than 15 years after its inception."
"Best live version of Echoes from 1987 tour."

*RFK Stadium, Washington D.C., June 1 1988
"My first Floyd show, wouldn't trade it for anything."

The Palace, Versailles, France, June 21, 1988
"I'd loved to have seen that pig fly over the palace."

Moscow, Russia, June 3, 1989
"A performance in Russia, where Iím from!"

The Grand Canale, Venice, Italy July 15, 1989
"Man what a show! David Gilmour's guitar flames and screams...super sound..super show....and they had these songs down-pat by this time."
"Too bad the plaza subsided and all those people were fired."

The Knebworth Festival, June 30, 1990 [2]
"Great Floyd. Great opening acts."
"It wouldn't be anything if not memorable...Led Zeppelin (sort of), Eric Clapton,...the list went on."

Alameda Oakland Stadium, Oakland, California, April 22, 1994
"One Slip is one of my favorite songs, and hearing it live would just be awesome, especially with the boys playing as well as they were on the last tour."

*Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia June 2, 1994
"My first (and only) Pink Floyd show. It was such an amazing experience that I'd love to be able to see it again to see the stuff I missed the first time."

*The Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan July 15, 1994
"First Dark Side of the Moon since whenever... I picked this one because this was, as of now, my first and only time seeing Pink Floyd. Therefore this is the only show that I know exactly what I would be feeling if I attended, as opposed to guessing. And I can say from experience that I wouldn't trade that feeling for anything in the world."

Valle Hovind, Oslo, Norway, August 30, 1994 [2]
"Typical Division Bell show, but with Marooned and Poles Apart, my fave from The Division Bell."
"Marooned is an incredible song...the 94 tour was incredible....I'd have to see at least 2 shows from this tour. Wanna see the Whale Video. Loved the 94 tour!"

Earls Court, London, October 14, 1994
"This one's personal. I managed to schedule a business trip to London around the Floyd's 14-show stand at Earls Court. Arrived on the morning of the 13th, booked a room, caught a nap, scalped a ticket, enjoyed a concert. On the 14th, I was thrown into a tizzy by the unexpected appearance of "High Hopes" in the first set, then my grip on reality was severed by the onset of the Dark Side second set. So that's why this show makes the list - I was there! Sorrow and Another Brick just blazed. And of course the Learning to Fly from P.U.L.S.E. is a real teaser."

Solo tours:

SYD BARRETT

The Olympia, London, June 6, 1970
"Extravaganza '70; Syd's first solo outing!"

DAVID GILMOUR

National Stadium, Dublin, March 31, 1984
"First show of the About Face tour. Gilmour is my God. I shall worship no other Gods than He. And I'd love to hear Him play His solo stuff."

The Brixton Academy, London, November 1, 1985
"Pete Towshend's Deep End show with Dave playing lead guitar. Reason I picked this one: Pete and Dave on one stage....'nuff said!!!"

ROGER WATERS

Earls Court, London, UK, June 21, 1984
"The Proís and Cons of Hitch Hiking is one of my favorite albums. This was far enough into the tour to have all the wrinkles worked out, but early enough that Clapton was still enjoying himself."

*Palais Omni Port de Bercy, Paris, France, July 6, 1984
"The Pros and Cons live..."

Wembley Stadium, London, November 21, 1987
"I managed to sneak in and see the soundcheck as well."