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November 25, 2015

Pink Floyd Concert at CWRU

On November 6, 1971 Pink Floyd played a concert at Emerson Gym to over 3000 people. This was part of a 27-date North American tour which began in San Francisco and ended in Cincinnati. We believe it was the first concert in Cleveland by Pink Floyd.

The entertainment section headline of The Observer (11/9/1971) read, “Pink Floyd concert - two views.”

The headline for the article by James Cunningham read, “Best concert ever.” As Cunningham recounted,

“We heard foot steps Saturday night We heard a baby cry, and the sound of birds twittering. Who was that girl we heard giggling and who was that with the axe?

“It was Pink Floyd packing them in at Emerson gym for one of the most successful concerts this school has had this year, drawing over 3000 people.

“There was Pink Floyd standing amidst a towering array of amplifiers, and electronic equipment playing for over three hours their special brand of experimental rock built on the group’s almost inexhaustible source of expression.

“Having been together for over six years they developed a sense of timing and musical sense which has been noticably [sic] lacking in many of today’s 50,000 watt groups. The audience recognized this and responded accordingly.

“It’s hard for any group to keep an audience totally absorbed, especially in Emerson where the conditions are less then adequate for such a large crowd. Pink Floyd could, lifting the listener into every world imaginable.

“Their music often relies heavily on recorded effects played with the music as in High Time Cymboline where the imaginative use of tapes let us hear the footsteps of a person as he walked from room to room. Add to this the total darkness of the gym and the excitement became stunning.

“Organist Richard Wright’s use of the melotron was another highlight of the concert. Echo stood out as his finest solo where his soaring and driving work were outstanding.

“Then there was Careful with that Axe Eugene. All I can say about this ditty is that you shouldn’t see it if you haven’t all your faculties. You’ll need them.

“There were the old favorites of course such as “Atom Heart Mother” or “Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun.” All very enjoyable although sometimes monotonous.

“It was a successful concert. It made money and it was fine entertainment. We were crowded but after it was over all we remembered was the music. Fie on you who didn’t go.”

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Concert poster, 1971

In contrast to Cunningham's article, “Terrible planning” was the headline for Anastasia Pantsios’ article. While she admired the band and their music, the venue and planning for the concert was a disaster.

“Some rock concerts seem destined to be special events. Take, for instance, the appearance of Pink Floyd this Saturday in Emerson Gym.

“Pink Floyd is the group whose innovative music was admired by the Beatles back in 1967, when Pink Floyd’s musical head trips were appreciated only by a small circle of super freaks.

“Now, many of Pink Floyd’s explorations seem almost trite, since so many other groups have adopted them in part, yet the concentrated application of strange outer-space sound effects is uniquely Pink Floyd’s and most other groups attempting to imitate them have degenerated into noisy doodling.

“Pink Floyd’s is totally head music, polar opposite to that of the ‘Git up and boogie’ school, and ideally a situation would have been provided in which the listener could sit back in comfort and sink himself mentally into the band’s deep, cerebral sound.

“Due to the most blatant example of promoter disregard for an audience that I have yet witnessed, the keen edge was taken off the music as one attempted to make oneself even slightly comfortable.

“Twenty minutes before show time the gym was already crammed and full of heavy smoke, a strain on even the strongest lungs. By the time the group began to play, there was no elbow room anywhere, people were standing eight to ten deep in the exit doors and more were sitting in the lobby. Others were turned away, even those who had purchased a ticket in advance.

“There has been much talk lately about providing a pleasant and sane atmosphere in which to listen to rock music. If ever a group deserved such an atmosphere, Pink Floyd did. It irritates me that poor planning or greed or some other motive could result in such a complete fiasco.

“Despite this, one couldn’t help admiring the creative playing of the group. Beginning with a standard blues guitar line that wouldn’t make the group stand out from twenty other good bands, they journeyed into a vast gallery of eerie sounds which surrounded the audience on all sides, making it particularly a pity that so many had to sit in the lobby.

“The group’s overall sound is slow, measured, floating and cold.

“The title of one of the numbers “Set Your Controls for the Heart of the Sun” gives a clear picture of the sort of feeling the group provokes.

“A concert by Pink Floyd is an all too rare pleasure and I hope that the next time around external matters will not intrude upon this pleasure.”

Pink Floyd played Cleveland again in 1972 at the Allen Theater. In 1977 the band played to over 83,000 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium as part of the World Series of Rock.

Posted by hxy2 at November 25, 2015 03:38 PM

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