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Home arrow Reviews arrow Concerts arrow Pink Floyd - Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA, October 22nd 1971
Pink Floyd - Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA, October 22nd 1971 Print E-mail

Written by Brain Damage contributor, Bruce Hazen

(Originally appeared in Brain Damage Magazine issue 35)

In September 1971 I was just beginning my freshman year of university at Western Washington State College in Bellingham. A few weeks into the first term a poster, promoting a Pink Floyd concert, appeared at a local 'head shop'! Meddle had just been released and was quickly becoming a popular album among lots of hairy students. All this was doubly exciting for me, for not only was this the first opportunity for me to see the Floyd, who'd recently become my favorite band (the Beatles having broken up not long before, to my great sorrow), but one of my first concerts of any stripe.

The day of the show I skipped classes so I could ride the bus down to Seattle to meet a friend. We arrived at the Paramount mid-afternoon to find a short line of acid-head types waiting for the doors to open (these were the days before assigned seating was commonplace), including, as I recall, a tall, Gandalf-like character with a staff, long graying hair, and English accent and many unlikely stories about the cosmos. When the doors opened, we scrambled in and got seats about ten rows back and center to the stage. Unfortunately for my long-term memory (and the factual accuracy of this article) we took some of Dr. Leary's medicine, so what follows is approximate...

Around the perimeter of the Paramount's interior were WEM speaker columns, the early Floyd sound system. Just after the lights went down to start the show, the sound of footsteps circled the theatre, giving the willies to a few folks whose dosage was beginning to kick in. The Pink Floyd shuffled on stage dressed in their usual jeans and dark-coloured T-Shirt. Astronomy Domine was the first tune, rendered with great power; the band took us all out on a psychedelic limb, with only Rick's frail organ holding the music together. I remember being surprised by Roger having Rick re-tune his bass after a few songs. I guess the rumours of Rog not having the greatest sense of pitch has some validity, or at least was the case then.

A somewhat abbreviated Atom Heart Mother was performed. I recall it being much heavier in concert than on the album. Set The Controls featured Roger bashing an enormous gong which exploded in fireworks at the climax. Also played were A Saucerful of Secrets, Careful With That Axe Eugene (terrifying scream from Rog), then Dave and Roger sat down with acoustic guitars for Green is the Colour and Granchester Meadows. An aspect of attending rock shows in those days that is different than today was the attentiveness of the audience. However, one crazed individual at this show kept yelling "Boogie!" at quieter moments. Roger finally had enough of this guy, approached the microphone and said, "Excuse me. This is not a boo-gie... we don't do boo-gies!" Everyone applauded and cheered!

Electric again, the band performed Cymbaline (with Roger singing lead!) and One of These Days. Echoes was the encore number I believe, although I'd welcome some confirmation from any BD readers who may have attended this show. (Echoes may have been the encore as well as A Saucerful of Secrets - ed)

My impression of Pink Floyd was one of quiet power and mystique; I recall chatting later with someone about how it was too bad they were only a cult band (Dark Side was still nearly two years in the future)! I feel privileged to have seen the Floyd play live as a growing force and as pop cultural icons, but this 1971 concert has a special place in my heart as an experience of wonderment, space and potentiality that I haven't had since. Viva la Floyd!

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