05/09/77 Oakland Coliseum Animal Instincts rev B Harvested (HRV-CDR-014) @ 320
Review of Animal Instincts:
It's somewhere between difficult and impossible for me to review "Animal Instincts" without also making it a memoir. As fortune would have it, May 9, 1977 was not only the first time I saw Pink Floyd, it was actually the first concert I ever went to in my life. In a lot of ways it screwed up my expectations for years to come: 1. It started on time. 2. It went almost perfectly. 3. The audience was behaved. It made me think that that was the concert experience I could usually expect. Silly me!
By comparison, when I saw the Los Angeles opening night of the "Wall" show in 1980, it seemed a complete disaster. Despite radio ads begging people to get there on time, it started 10-15 minutes late (not a big deal by rock 'n' roll standards, but remember that the 1977 show started at something like three minutes after the announced time!), the lighting and sound cues were hopelessly botched, the sound was comparatively awful, the curtain caught on fire, the audience was rowdy, etc. etc. etc. I'm one of the few people I know who left that show terribly disappointed.
Anyway, back to 1977. We were up in the nosebleeds with the stage far, far, far away. We got there with plenty of time to spare and used the time to...ahem...prepare for the experience in a manner that was not viewed as that big a deal in 1977. A lucky group of people down at floor level had brought and unfurled a colossal banner that even from where we sat could clearly be seen to read "ONE OF THESE DAYS".
Barely after 8:00, the lights dimmed. Over the audience cheering we could hear that ominous bass note and nothing else. I thought "Wow, they're already playing the request for 'One of these Days'!" Oops.
(I guess I should mention at this point that back in 1977 I found "Animals" to be a disappointment, so I wasn't even that familiar with it. I discovered PF in the summer of 1974 when I realized that three songs I really liked when they'd come on the radio were all from the same album, which I finally went and bought. When "Wish You Were Here" came out in 1975, I was somewhat cool at first, but it soon became and has remained my favorite album of all time. But "Animals" at the time just left me cold and it took years before I came to appreciate it, which of course now I do.)
As "Animal Instincts" documents, the band ran through the entire album, albeit in a different order. I honestly can't remember how I felt about it as a musical experience, but like any fan, I thought the inflatables were very impressive and unusual. The quad sound worked very well, and though it was just a big indoor arena more suited to sporting events, the acoustics weren't horrible by any means.
After "Pigs", Roger announced the intermission, which was indeed brief. The lights again dimmed and that familiar single note began to fade up. Ah! Now we're getting somewhere! I remember wondering at the time what they were going to do after the first part of SOYCD, it never occurred to me that they'd simply play the entire album all the way through. But they did, and I was thrilled. Not only was it fantastic to hear live, with both the similarities and the differences between the studio album, but their use of film on the gigantic circular screen was excellent. And their tasteful use of backing tapes to augment what was clearly a very live performance also worked very well and didn't feel like nearly the "cheat" that their greatly increased use in 1980 and beyond seemed.
But, like all good things, the set finally ended. As the Harvested release documents, the audience was by and large stunned into awe and actually remained almost quiet until the final note faded away. But once the response started, it didn't end until they came back for the first encore. What I remember most of all is everyone around me screaming "More! More!" for what seemed like forever.
At some point, and I'm guessing that it was probably before "Us and Them" based on what made it to tape, Roger made a comment along the lines of "On this entire tour, this is the first time that people have actually _listened_ to us." In light of what we now know about Roger's feelings about concert audiences, that says volumes about how special that night was for everyone there.
Anyway, the encores were incredible. I didn't have any live material at the time, so it was amazing to hear such an extended version of "Money", which, like "Us and Them", was also accompanied by some terrific film that perfectly complemented what we were hearing. After "Money" the band again left the stage and again screams of "More!" started up. They came back, played "Us and Them", and then the house lights came up in earnest. But something happened that I've never seen happen since: While a lot of people did indeed head for the exits, at least half and probably more refused to budge, instead standing, clapping, stomping, yelling "More!" until they were hoarse. This went on until well past the point when it seemed possible that the band would actually return to the stage, but...they did!
Although we all know by now that it was the only time on the tour they played "Eugene", and the first time in years as well as the last time ever, it was very obvious to anyone there that it was a special moment. There were no lighting cues to speak of, for one thing. For the most part it was just a case of the house lights being out and the stage being lit. The feedback caught by the Harvested release also made it clear that no one was really ready for what they were doing.
The song ended, and a few of us yelled for more, but we really knew that we'd just seen something special and were not likely to get any more.
So, how is Harvested's "Animal Instincts"? It's damned fine. It's clearly a 1977 audience recording, but it's a great 1977 audience recording with good sound and no irritating blabbermouths, firecrackers or other extraneous crap that so often ruins audience recordings. I've been told by someone who claims to know the taper that security was bribed and a reel-to-reel recorder was taken in to do the job. The tape exhibits very little dropout or other deterioration, and until the band themselves decide to release their own rumored document of the tour, it's the best we're going to get.
A piece of the show is missing from the master just before the vocal begins in the second half of SOYCD, but this is apparently from where the tape was flipped and is missing from all prior versions that I've heard as well. True to form, Harvested has integrated the same passage from a different performance. It's hardly seamless, but it's infinitely preferable to simply leaving a jump cut. Considering the importance of this show, it's wonderful that this is the _only_ missing piece!
Those of you with copies of Great Dane's release of this show will be happy to note that the "Wish You Were Here" set does _not_ suffer from a faint reprise of the "Animals" set leaking into the audio.
My copy exhibits the occasional, very rare bit of digital noise on disc one. For reasons not worth explaining, I believe this is on the digital master and is not a duplication error. It's not enough to ruin the experience at all, I only mention it for those who are even more obsessive than I am.
People have mentioned the loud, deep pops that can be heard during the WYWH set. Rest assured that neither Harvested nor your source did anything wrong, that noise was actually present during the live show. I'm not sure what it was, though others I was with were convinced that the less-than-perfect weather outside included lightning that was somehow interfering with the PA system.
"Animal Instincts" is a great document of a great show. For those who weren't there, it's a fantastic taste of a great band at a peak that some believe they never hit again. For those who were there, it's a great way to relive a memory and verify that it was indeed a fantastic, once in a lifetime show and not just something that seemed that way at the time due to consumption of an agricultural product imported from Thailand.
A huge "thank you" to all who made it happen!
Tony Tiger's Review:
Holy Crap! Download this show. It's Sooper Dooper!!!! Includes aretwork (it's that good).
102 Pigs on the Wing part 1
104 Pigs on the Wing part 2
106 Shine On You Crazy Diamond
107 Welcome to the Machine
201 Have a Cigar
202 Wish You Were Here
203 Shine On You Crazy Diamond 6-9
205 Us and Them
206 Careful with that Axe Eugene