Gigs · Music

Pink Floyd at the Usher Hall

I mentioned this gig in my last post about the Caley Picture House/Wetherspoon’s…

Pink Floyd Usher Hall Edinburgh

Guy Fawkes’ Day 1974 and yes indeed, there were some people in the stalls who let off fireworks.
I would be 14 and a half at the time. I can remember nothing about going to or returning from the show, but I vividly remember everything else about it.
My friend Alan and I went to our seats in Row C of the upper tier to find there were already a couple of herberts in army surplus greatcoats sitting in them – when we pointed out they were our seats, they told us to go away, in the demotic…so we hung around until the end of the first tune, when the two went off to their third row seats in the stalls.  Not the brightest.

The first set was all new material – “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” “Raving and Drooling” and “You’ve Got To Be Crazy.”  The first, of course, would appear on Wish You Were Here, which the band started recording at the start of 1975 and released in September of that year.  The other two would be re-titled “Sheep” and “Dogs” and appeared on Animals in January 1977.

The second set was a complete performance of Dark Side of the Moon, which had come out in March 1973 and I think I must have got in early 1974 – I had a set of headphones as well and spent a lot of time listening to this album.

For an encore, PF did “Echoes” from Meddle, which I must also have heard by that time.  I probably got that in late 1974, it certainly wasn’t the second Floyd record I had after Dark Side – like a lot of people, that would have been A Nice Pair, the budget-priced reissue of the first two Floyd albums from 1967 and 1968, in a pretty vile Hipgnosis sleeve. Although The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Saucerful of Secrets may not have been immediately palatable listening for the youthful fan of Dark Side, it was cheap and a nice early introduction to the Barret Floyd – that fascination has never gone away in forty-odd years.

Pink Floyd A Nice Pair

After the show, we went to the edge of the stage to look at the equipment (I hadn’t yet figured out how to walk into dressing rooms, that came a bit later and is now close to involuntary) and were impressed that Nick Mason had car or scooter wing mirrors set up on the drum kit to allow him to sync with the back projections.  For such a hi-tech show, that seemed comfortingly homely.

Note that the ticket for the show by one of the biggest bands in the world at the time was £1.40.  It’s fairly trite to laugh about the price of things 43 and a bit years ago, but what does stick in the mind is that Alan’s dad paid for our two tickets by cheque, which he forgot to sign.  The Usher Hall simply returned the cheque to him and asked him to sign it so they could send the tickets out.

I can’t imagine anything like that happening today.

Books · Festivals · Media · Music

Movements: Brian Eno

Edinburgh International Festival Brian Eno


On Friday 23rd August Brian Eno delivered a lecture (as part of the Edinburgh International Festival) called Movements, in which he expounded on the “relationship between what composers do and what audiences do,” often defined as music, and specifically the conceptual puzzle that the advent and eventual predominance of recorded music may have created.
I hadn’t realised that the old Lecture Theatre of Chambers Street museum had become attached to the National Museum of Scotland, so was surprised to enter from Lothian Street. I was also surprised by the three men who accompanied Eno into the theatre – they were handy geezers – I guess I expected him to be surrounded by beams of light or something…anyway, it was the second occasion in as many months (after Nile Rodgers at Summerhall) when a producer of multi-million selling records was speaking to a small audience in Edinburgh, so to be savoured for that at least. As it turns out, Eno is an engaging and humourous speaker.


Brian Eno movements

The gist of what he was saying is that once, music was performed on specific occasions and the audience had to go to the music; after the advent of recording and cheap reproduction, music came to the audience and changed, had new possibilities, because of the new ubiquity.
Moreover, the nature of the music became different. Eno posited that perhaps the persistence of the word “music” to refer to both that which is performed in a concert hall and that which emanates from a radio has created a confusion. To wit; people didn’t call films of theatre performances (the genesis of cinema) “theatre” once the first masters of the medium had begun to create what we know now as “cinema,” so perhaps there should have been a new coinage for what happened when “music” changed into “recorded music,” and recordings became the object itself rather than an imperfect representation of (putatively perfect) past performance.

A lot of this is not dissimilar to the ideas expressed in Evan Eisenberg’s The Recording Angel from 1987, but I doubt that either man plagiarized the other; these ideas would be arrived at by anyone who spends much time thinking about music and how we perceive it.

Eno recounted the story of his one and only booking as a session musician, which was for The New Seekers. This unlikely event came about because Eno was the only person listed in the MU Handbook as a synthesiser player, due to his not being a proper keyboard player (every capable keyboard player was listed as a pianist or organist.) So when it came to the session, he couldn’t read the part or supply the synth sound The New Seekers wanted – the track was never released.
The story reminded me of the picture below from 1972, showing The New Seekers preparing to kick out the jams at The Eurovision Song Contest at the Usher Hall; I’ve contrasted with a picture from earlier this year of the same area – I feel something has been lost…even though there’s now a cow sticking out the front of the Rutland Hotel.


New Seekers Eurovision Song Contest Edinburgh 1972



Edinburgh West End 2013