Beyond doubt, my number one, go-to music in my mid-teens was that of Pink Floyd. And I’m very glad that I’ve never grown out of it.
I’ve seen Pink Floyd live four times, more than any other act. It would have been five, but like an idiot I gave away a ticket to a show in Liverpool – probably 1967 – because I was invited to a party where there could have been girls present (there were: none of them spoke to me). I was at The Rainbow two nights running in early 1971 – power cuts and all – while ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ was still a work-in-progress, and I’m somewhere in the audience of the official DVD, ‘Pulse’, recorded at Earl’s Court in 1994.
I don’t know if I’m in the minority, but quite honestly I didn’t feel that very much was lost by the acrimonious departure of Roger Waters. Nobody could deny his songwriting ability or his knack of pacing the longer pieces just perfectly, but frankly ‘The Wall’ wasn’t my idea of what Pink Floyd ought to sound like. Post-Waters, the sound that did – does – it for me was still there: Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ – I rest my case.
The first thing that hooked me on the Floyd was the long, ‘spacy’ tracks: ‘Interstellar Overdrive’, for example, held together by the vastly under-rated Rick Wright’s sweeping keyboards. But there was also, in the early days, a noticeable ‘hard’ rock element to the overall sound which I’d forgotten about until comparatively recently, when my searches on Youtube unearthed a whole slew of concert recordings from the 67-71 period. Oh, my.
The first time I saw Pink Floyd was at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool, in early 1970. Our comparatively progressive (for the time) English teacher allowed a group of us to raid the Drama Society’s wardrobe so that we short-haired, seventeen year-old schoolboys didn’t look like a mass Borstal breakout. Sadly, though, he drew the line at letting me have the scarlet and gold Guards dress jacket. I can’t remember what I got instead, but it passed muster.
I well remember the fiirst song they performed that night. It never appeared on any of their studio albums and, reading the comments on Youtube, I was surprised to see that many even obsessive Floyd fans had never heard it before. Personally, I’ve never forgotten it, so it seems only proper to include it here. Both Waters and Wright are superb on this; in fact, they all are.
However, neither can I pass up the chance of posting a link to what I’m pretty sure is the first Pink Floyd song I heard. If it wasn’t, it doesn’t really matter, because this perfectly captures the essence of what I’ve been talking about:
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