Pink Floyd this weekend. There is no shortage of live concert recordings of the band, post Syd Barrett. The Syd Barrett era Floyd comprises some of the real rarities of the band during their formative period. Just post Syd, the period from 1969 up the the groundbreaking Dark Side Of The Moon is interesting in that it represents a band finding their direction, transitioning into what became the Next Big Thing, and the era of Pink Floyd we’ve come to know the last 20 or so years.
This concert, recorded on April 29, 1970 at the legendary Fillmore West represents Pink Floyd, in the fading grip of the Barrett period, while heading into new territory epitomized with the release of Atom Heart Mother later on that year.
This concert pays homage to that earlier period with probably some of the last live performances of Astronomy Domine and Interstellar Overdrive from Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (and Ummagumma as a live version), as well as A Saucerful Of Secrets and Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun.
What’s most interesting about this period, is that Pink Floyd were hardly household names in America. They were known by a gradually growing, but still had a small hardcore audience, in comparison to what was around the corner.
Fans these days have a hard time recalling the earlier incarnation of Pink Floyd – when they were deemed so experimental and off-the-wall that their reputation was had only by way of underground FM at the time, and even then in small doses. It was a lot different in the UK – but in the U.S. they were still relative unknowns, at least as far as the mainstream were concerned.
But like a lot of fans from the earlier incarnation, this transitional period of Pink Floyd took some getting used to. I remember being on the fence, the first time I heard Ummagumma; a sprawling two-lp soundscape that reached the top 20 in the UK but stalled at 74 in the U.S. – this was, however the first time a Floyd album hit the charts in the U.S. I wasn’t clear what direction they were heading, but like many others, we were devoted enough fans to weather through just about anything.
So if you missed this earlier period of Pink Floyd, this concert (which sounds phenomenal) is a good place to start, heading back from there. A pivotal band who have transitioned into one of the cornerstones of Pop Music – a band that defied the skeptics.