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Pink Floyd - Australia, August 1971 Print E-mail


Report By Guy Hughes

Pink Floyd first performed in Australia on Friday 13th August 1971, at Melbourne Festival Hall, and on Sunday 15th August at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney.

Pink Floyd, Melbourne 1971 concert flyerThey arrived in Australia on 11th August 1971, and at Melbourne Airport they were interviewed by Gary Mac for Go-Set (a 24 page music newspaper). Australian journalists, not realising that the Floyd disliked talking about the music, actually received a couple of decent interviews with all the members of the band. Mac's interview plus a review of the Melbourne concert appeared in the Saturday, 28th August 1971 edition of Go-Set (volume 6, number 35).

The Rock Concert Club of Australia was responsible for bringing Pink Floyd down under on this occasion, but their promotion left a lot to be desired. The resulting audiences put Floyd off coming here again. At each gig, the Rock Concert Club put 10" round, purple leaflets on every seat, telling the audience that if they were members of the club they could have seen the band for free. I am sure that the Floyd were unimpressed by this.

The Melbourne Festival Hall is renowned for its poor sound, but the Floyd along with their quad sound were able to overcome the hall's shortcomings. The hall was only about half full owing to almost non-existant promotion. At both concerts Pink Floyd were supported by other bands, a very rare occurrence indeed! Pirana came on first and played for one hour followed by Lindsay Bourke. Both bands were well below the Floyd standard of extreme freeform improvisation.

After a ten minute break (9:30pm approx), Pink Floyd came on stage and Roger announced "Good evening. This is called Atom Heart Mother". They then went into a sixteen minute non-orchestrated performance of the piece. After a minute or so of tuning up, Roger announced, "We're just going to retune then we're going to do two things together. The first of which is a song from the soundtrack from the film More, which I hear was banned over here, and it's called Green Is The Colour. And the second is an instrumental called Careful With That Axe, Eugene". Both songs together lasted fourteen and a half minutes. This was either the last, or the penultimate, performance of Green Is The Colour (I'm not sure if it was played in Sydney).

After that, Roger said "This next thing is a new piece, and it's called Echoes. And it's going to take us a minute or two to get it together because one of our lenses has burnt out". This was the first time it was announced as "Echoes" (and lasted twenty two minutes), but it still had the alternate lyrics for the first verse and chorus, and the quick ending without the multi-tracked choir as at the Montreaux 1971 gig.

The band then played a twelve and a half minute Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun without announcing it. They then played an eleven minute Cymbaline before Roger proclaimed "Okay. This is going to be our last tune. Thank you all for coming. It's called A Saucerful Of Secrets and we'll see you again some time". Unfortunately the original tape ran out after five and a half minutes into Saucerful. The show was recorded about fifty yards from the stage using a Sony TC80 mono portable cassette recorder, smuggled in a schoolbag, and a normal position BASF cassette (chrome wasn't available in 1971)!

Pink Floyd, Melbourne 1971 ticketWith the Melbourne concert out of the way, Pink Floyd made their way to Sydney for an afternoon performance at Randwick Racecourse. Before they went on stage, they were interviewed for the GTK (Get To Know) programme in one of the rooms at Randwick (see transcription in the Pink Floyd Interviews section of this site). The GTK programme was a short (five to ten minute) music show that was screened weeknights before the 6pm news. The Floyd interview lasted for nearly nine minutes. This is the only interview on film that features all four members talking together!

As yet, no audio recording of the Sydney concert has surfaced, but the GTK programme aired a two minute, fifteen second film with audio taken from the Ummagumma version of Careful With That Axe, Eugene. This showed the band surrounded by the audience with the cameraman at the top of the stands, achieving good closeups of the band, stage, and audience. It is not known how much of the concert was filmed, but this segment is all that has survived. The third part of the GTK show was a two and a half minute clip for Set The Controls using the Saucerful album version. It featured three girls running around in the desert and is an Australian only promo. This was broadcast after the band left Australia on Tuesday 17th August 1971.

No one here (Australia) who saw the Floyd in 1971 knows anything about a 1972 tour. I am still seeking information on this, but I believe the March 1972 dates were cancelled as was the Japan gig on the 11th March 1971.

Note: This article first appeared in Brain Damage Magazine

Report by Peter Calcroft

I, too, attended the Sydney show in question, in 1971. Unfortunately it was a very poor show, and the author above is right in blaming the organisers... it was not at all the fault of the band.

There was a gale force wind blowing across the audience and the band was huddled together on a small, makeshift stage that barely contained their equipment. The sound, that we the audience heard, was just a loud din, barely recognisable as music. I can still remember the look of frustration and distress on David Gilmour and Roger Waters faces as they tried to make the best of the appalling conditions. I made up for it, however, by seeing them again, under ideal circumstances this time, whilst visiting the UK some years later. This later show remains one of the main highlights of my more than thirty years of concert going.

Please understand, though, I was only thirteen years old at the time, and had not yet developed any sense of the importance of what I was witnessing on that day in 1971. However, even as a boy, I was quite perceptive and able to recognise the fact that the problems of that afternoon were not of the bands' making.

What also surprised me was the small size of the crowd. I don't know the exact numbers but it couldn't have been more than four or five thousand people. That, and the "host", "on-stage announcer", call him what you will, pleading with the crowd, "Please, people, The Pink Floyd are perfectionists!". This, in response to the moans and groans from the audience about the delays in getting the show started.

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