DOUBLE LIVES

SIDE I

I’ve just walked out of a record shop in Mont Albert clutching the 2018 re-issue of Pink Floyd’s Pulse. Four vinyl records and a 12” x 12” hardcover book in a handsome slipcase. No flashing light on the spine but it still cost a bomb.

I’m thinking, Why?

Sitting on the shelves at home is the original double CD set, quietly blinking away. Why on earth would I want a second, much more expensive edition of a live album that is really just a lavish ‘beat the bootleggers’ release?

SIDE II

It’s odd to reflect that if you exclude the half-live, half-studio Ummagumma, Pink Floyd’s first official live album was 1988’s Delicate Sound of Thunder. In other words, the entire Roger Waters era passed without a band-endorsed concert release.

Maybe that’s why long-haul Floyd fans often have impressive collections of bootleg concert recordings.

One of my favourite ‘boots’

SIDE III

Pink Floyd visited Australia in the seventies, but I didn’t see them. It was the Dark Side tour, and I believe it was excellent, with the plane crashing into the backdrop and all that.

When it was announced that the band was playing the Rod Laver Arena in 1988 as part of the Momentary Lapse of Reason tour, I did not hesitate. I even borrowed a fancy sound recorder and taped the concert. Unfortunately I employed a noise reduction system unique to that particular recording device, with the result that the recording was unlistenable. Still, I kept those cassettes for years. And I’ve still got the t-shirt.

SIDE IV

We’re going on a day trip, she said.

What should I wear?

Cover all bases, she said.

Including beach stuff?

If you like.

This enigmatic exchange took place in the living room of Bridget’s friends in Wilhelmshaven on the northern coastline of Germany, one mid-August Saturday, 1994.

I cast a bemused glance towards our hosts.

You can borrow a towel, said Thomas.

Hm.

So we jumped into the Fiat Panda and off we went. When I say jumped, I really mean ‘folded myself into’; the Panda is not a spacious vehicle. Nor a speedy one.

Beetling along a B-road south of Bremen, I was still none the wiser about our destination. Other than it being unlikely to involve the beach. We were travelling inland at speeds sometimes approaching a dizzying 100 kph. The country was about as breathtaking as the velocity, but it was pleasant to gaze out across rural  Germany…

A couple of hours into the drive I noticed a re-occurring poster—on lampposts, the sides of buildings—alerting the good burghers of Lower Saxony to the imminent performance of Pink Floyd in Hanover. Imminent? It was tonight.

I think I know where we are heading, I said.

Bridget grinned broadly. So did I.

The journey took us approximately 3 ½ hours in the Fiat

SIDE V

The Niedersachsenstadion was packed. Well, it would be in a couple of hours. 

When we first arrived, there was a band of humanity 60m deep arced across the football pitch in front of the stage but plenty of visible turf if you wanted to kick a ball about. Having only a beach towel, we instead staked out a bit of grass just behind the lines and settled down to wait.

It being nigh on twenty-four years since that August evening, I confess that my memories of the concert comprise glimpses, disconnected snapshots and smudges. I recall being utterly thrilled when the band opened with ‘Astronomy Domine’, the first track on the very first Pink Floyd album. 

Swishing ‘round my head is some kind of cranio-auditory trace of the sound leaping across the stadium from speakers mounted high on the far side of the stands, especially during the Dark Side numbers. And my nostrils still quiver at the waves of herbal smoke drifting this way and that as fellow space cadets swayed to the melancholy beauty of ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’.

Pink Floyd Setlist – Hanover, 17 August 1994

I remember wishing there had been more surprises in the set; something from Animals, a condensed version of ‘Echoes’… but overall, it was a blast. In fact, the only downer was getting the Panda out of the gridlocked car park at the end. That took over an hour, but I stayed chilled; laying back cradling my souvenir t-shirt and reliving the concert. A contact high.

SIDE VI

Revisiting concerts is easy when you have a recording of the event. Not necessarily the gig you attended but a facsimile compiled from performances across the tour. That’s how it usually works.

Researching the setlist for this piece, I was chuffed to find that the rendition of ‘Keep talking’ from Hanover was chosen for the Pulse live album. Hearing the surge of cheering at the end I think, ‘I’m in that mix somewhere’.

SIDE VII

A couple of months back I stumbled across a blog post where the writer was offering advice on disembowelling the Pulse CD box to allow replacement of the batteries. Apparently some 1995 versions had the light-and-battery pack glued inside, meaning that considerable damage had to be inflicted upon the package to get the beacon pulsing again. Not so my copy, and when I’d replaced the AAs and provided (the slightly crestfallen) blogger with photographic evidence of the ease with which this was executed, I listened to the set.

Well-played, I thought. Very professional. Slick, even. And I filed it again.

SIDE VIII

So why, in the name of all that’s floydy, did I tuck those eight sides of vinyl under my wing with such pleasure. I have a dozen live recordings, LP and CD, that are far more exciting and entertaining for all their dubious sound quality and dodgy provenance.

I guess it’s because I was there, one mild summer night nearly a quarter of a century ago, on a football pitch in Hanover, with a woman both thoughtful and generous, as the last gleams of sunset tinted the metal stadium roof, amongst forty thousand swaying Germans, in a cauldron misted with marijuana, while the grass turned damp, listening to a band whose comfortable waistlines belied the potency of their musical legacy, dreaming a present past future, and for a moment not feeling like a lost soul swimming in a fishbowl.

 

 

 

20 comments

  1. It’s pretty cool that you’re on Pulse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it just? And I only discovered this a couple of days ago while writing the post!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved this Bruce! I totally understand the need for a souvenir – doubly so if you were actually there for one track of it too; which for a band that big is very exciting.

    I bought the recent Iron maiden Live LP (about their 35th live one, give or take one or two) for precisely that reason. It is a perfectly good album but it was because I wanted a souvenir of the tour too.

    My dad is very into Pearl Jam (I know, I know) and they release downloads of all their shows (or used to at least) so he has recordings of the three times he has seen them.

    Goldfrapp also did a thing where you could order a lovely CD of each show they played – it’s a beautifully done release too, lots of foil shiny bits – not sure I’ve ever listened to it all the way through in one go though. I think if you could be arsed waiting around you could actually collect them an hour, or two after the gig too, through some techno wizardry.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. So quite a little global cottage industry in having a record of the show you attended. Why not, eh?
      Suppose it is a kind of development from Deadheads swapping tapes of Grateful Dead shows.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Very nice Bruce and how cool, Floyd in Germany. Souvenirs, sound memories and flashbacks. I am on the Is There Anybody Out There album by Floyd, I have no real memories of the show as I was so overwhelmed to be there at 14 and have my generous and kind cousin Tony to thank, I have never played it as I am not too sure about the Wall most of the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Years back (!) I wrote a story-piece called ‘The Window and The Wall’ that did not shy away from my ambivalence towards Roger’s opus. So I share your uncertainty. I have that set too but cannot say it has had many spins.
      But forget all that rock crit stuff. Hooray for Tony and kind cousins everywhere!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes hooray for Tony. He was responsible for my first Bowie show and almost Zeppelin in 79 but my dad wouldn’t let the 13 yr old take off that far with little more than a teenager and his friends. Hence Floyd the next year.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Yet another great post that succeeds in making the obsessive seem not only reasonable but romantic. I envy you the live Floyd experience, and what a great story about how it came about. I’ll listen for you in the crowd on ‘Keep Talking’ when I get my own copy of Pulse, something I never thought I needed until learning here about the CD version with blinking light(!).

    My “I was there” boasts come with the DVD of a 2013 concert in Santiago, Chile, by hard rockers Accept included in the deluxe CD edition of their album Blind Rage and three songs performed in Phoenix — before I had any idea I’d later live here — included as bonus tracks on Rush’s Clockwork Angels Tour CD/DVD.

    [And just between us, this post (and 1537’s comment on it) spurred me to write the post I put up today. Should you stop by VotF, I imagine you’ll easily spot the connection.]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a wonderful piece, Vic.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Brilliant, Bruce… just brilliant. I bought the Glasgow Pearl Jam official bootleg way back, both as a souvenir and the fact I was there (dull, lifeless performance… but I was there and it’s my only Pearl Jam live experience).

    As VotF says, this post highlights the romantic side of record collecting. Brilliant.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cheers J. Much appreciated. I noted that 1537’s Dad (yep, Dad) has dipped into the Pearl Jam official bootleg ocean as well.

      And perhaps all we record collectors are undercover (or should that be gatefold?) romantics.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a delightful journey.
    As VotF says, your post makes collecting seem reasonable, even romantic.
    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks DD. It’s funny (in a nice way) that several people responded to a romanticism in this post. Funny that I could only see it after it was pointed out to me.

      (as a Dad of boys, I think you’d enjoy VotF’s post too – link below)

      Like

  7. VC friends who like the more personal music stories here should check out this new Victim of the Fury post. It’s marvellous.

    https://victimofthefury.com/2018/07/08/musing-magnetic-the-memory-remains/

    Like

    1. It has a clear 1537 influence, I’d say.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Always like your personal experience with the music. One of the reasons I tune in. I’m a Floyd Pink guy as you know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your tuning is appreciated, CB. Cheers.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I loved this, Bruce, particularly the format of eight chapters/vinyl sides, and the enhancing visuals (map, setlist). In Side V, you may have come up with a great title for a Pink Floyd bootleg: “Far Side of the Stands” (as a nod to Dark Side of the Moon…) I can always count on your posts to offer up at *least* one evocative expression; in this one, its ‘cranio-auditory trace’….genius! (The odds are greater than 50:50 that I’ll use that at some point, giving you credit of course.) My one European stadium concert experience was The Rolling Stones at Olympic Stadium in Munich, June of 1982. I may need to noodle around and find out if I, too, might have an “I was there!” musical moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was an old-fashioned Vinyl Connection post, wasn’t it? Glad you enjoyed it, JDB.
      Got a giggle from your imagined bootleg title, though I wonder if that sense of distance might put off some punters. “Far side of the stage” might be more seductive, perhaps? Or ‘Dark side of the (Mixing) Desk’? I’ll stop now.

      Stones in München sounds fine! I got the set list from setlist.com which, incidentally, shows Stones shows on Thursday 10 and Friday 11 June 1982. Which were you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know I still have the ticket stub (a facsimile of the gaping mouth/protruding tongue logo) but it wasn’t where I thought it was, so will need to track it down. My fading memory tells me it was the Friday show.

        Liked by 1 person

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