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Pink Floyd - The Final Lunacy, Royal Albert Hall, London 26th June 1969 Print E-mail
Written by Robert Lancaster   
Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Royal Albert Hall from the outsideAlmost 40 years ago, one of Pink Floyd's key concerts took place in front of a rapt audience at London's historic Royal Albert Hall. Robert Lancaster was one of the lucky few there, and shares his memories of the show for fellow Brain Damage visitors...

There are very few concerts that the audience know will be exceptional even before they have taken their seats and where the atmosphere of anticipation and excitement are palpable. This was the electric situation at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on the evening of 26th June 1969, for "The Final Lunacy" of Pink Floyd’s UK series of concerts entitled "The Man and the Journey".

RAH 1969 NickThe sound of birdsong filled the hall and then the evening started with part one, "The Man", and "Daybreak" the bucolic and lovely "Grantchester Meadows" followed by "Work" a percussive piece with Rick Wright sawing and hammering wood to make a table. Unfortunately one leg fell off to the laughter of the audience but further hammering reattached the leg for the next section "Teatime" where the table was used for the band to drink tea on stage. After tea came "Afternoon", "Biding My Time" with Rick Wright playing trombone and blistering guitar work from David Gilmour which brought huge applause from the audience.

Nick Mason's drumming featured prominently in the next piece "Doing It" with, as I remember, the recorded voice of Alec Guinness appearing in the short pauses. Next came what was for me the highlight of the first part: "Sleep" and "Nightmare" which later became Cymbaline. This was Pink Floyd at their most atmospheric and best with the combination of Rick Wright's keyboards and pre-recorded voices enveloping the audience and sending shivers up my spine. The slow descending keyboard notes faded into a ticking clock and alarm closing "The Man".

RAH 1969 Richard "The Journey" opened with the sound of breaking waves and seabirds before "The Beginning", better known as "Green Is The Colour" which segued into "Beset By Creatures Of The Deep", ("Careful With That Axe Eugene"). "The Narrow Way" followed with some fine slide guitar. Then "The Pink Jungle" came to life.  Based on "Pow R Toc H" this featured some amazing animal noises from Roger Waters that filled the hall with sound and merged with "The Labyrinths Of Auximenes" a reworking of "Interstellar Overdrive" again enveloping the audience with sounds. The sounds faded away to applause as footsteps were heard circling the hall. Doors creaked opened and closed and a gorilla roamed the auditorium.

A gong sounded, almost inaudible against the applause, and "Behold The Temple Of Light" began, a slow piece with, once again, some wonderful soaring keyboards. Towards the end of this piece Rick Wright left his keyboards and went to the Royal Albert Hall pipe organ and began to play "The End Of The Beginning", the final part of "Saucerful Of Secrets". While this was being played the brass section of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra came on stage led by the conductor, Norman Smith, who looked startled at the applause but quickly beamed at the reception. The ladies of the Ealing Central Amateur Choir then followed.

RAH 1969 David and RogerThe brass section accompanied the organ and then stopped as the choral part began, the most wonderful combination of voices and organ music. Then the band and brass came back culminating in a musical climax accompanied by the firing of two Waterloo cannon and a pink smoke bomb. The audience came to their feet cheering and applauding what was, for me, the best ever performance by Pink Floyd. Even after nearly 40 years I still have shivers down my spine as I recall this moment and I am thankful that I was among the privileged few thousand people who experienced this wonderful occasion. What a pity that it was not recorded.

Perhaps there is an opportunity to recreate this historic concert, along the lines of "Games For May" in 2007, for the 40th anniversary in 2009?

© Miles George Enterprises 2008

 
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