In July 1977 Pink Floyd put in four sensational performances at the world famous Madison Square Garden in New York. The band were nearing the end of the long and gruelling Animals tour and inter-band relations were on the slide. The crowd was extremely noisy during the MSG shows, with a lot of fireworks, which led to the Montreal incident a few days later, where Roger Waters exploded for good.
This was the only tour in which Pink Floyd played songs from Animals live. It was also during this tour Waters began to exhibit increasingly aggressive behaviour and would often scold disruptive audiences who yelled and screamed during the quieter numbers. The cliché of the sound of a band “tearing itself apart” has been used many times throughout the years, but I don’t think it’s ever been more appropriate than when used to describe a lot of the legendary shows of the ’77 tour. The atmosphere is electric although it would be that Canadian concert on the 6th of July that the infamous ‘spitting’ incident occurred that drove Roger Waters to pen The Wall; noting this tour was known as the “In the Flesh” tour, the title of the track that opens that album.
There were a couple of dates that sounded like they were having a great time like Oakland and Boston, and here in New York, but Montreal was the last straw. It was also a time when audience saw fit to let off fire crackers during the show. These are an infamous set of gigs before the American independence day celebrations and before the national holiday when it is customary to set off fireworks, and it’s clear the audience is in a “festive” mood.
Having said that the visual impact of the show is undeniable, and the playing captured here is exemplary. Highlights include David Gilmour’s guitar solos on Dogs. During the long middle segment, several large inflatables were floated to the ceiling – a father, a mother sitting on a couch, a little boy, and a car. Gilmour’s bluesy workouts on the funky space-rock epic Pigs (Three Different Ones), Roger’s screams, Rick Wright’s gorgeous keyboard work, the mighty track extends to a mind-bending 20 minutes and its here where the giant inflatable pig is finally revealed. With glowing eyes, he travelled along a guide wire from one end of the arena to the other, only some ten feet above the fans. Then two mechanical arm-like devices, emitting showers of white sparks, arise from the sides of the stage.
The first half of the concert sees the band playing all of Animals in a different sequence, and the second half of the concert the entire Wish You Were Here album in its exact running order, finishing with an encore of a couple of Dark Side of the Moon-era classics.
The quality is good for an audience analogue. The first half is a little echoey and hollow. The second half is where things really improve. The opening to Shine on Crazy Diamond is glistening in quality. Envision dry ice bellowing from the stage, breathtaking animation, and goose bumps as Floyd’s Syd Barrett ode swirls through the speakers. The intro is restrained, then extended compared to the new concert recordings released recently (eg: Knebworth 1990 on The Later Years boxset). Dave goes again with another blistering solo after Rick’s part before Roger’s vocal kicks in.
Do not listen to this gig/bootleg to enjoy the beautiful quality of the recording. Listen to it to hear classic musicianship. Listen to it to understand Waters hatred of stadium shows, and listen to hear the sound of a band at their musical peak: this makes up for the non-professional sound quality, giving one the feeling of being there.
Pink Floyd – Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY, 2 July 1977 mp3
1. Sheep (11:08)
2. Pigs On The Wing (part 1) (1:59)
3. Dogs (17:24)
4. Pigs On The Wing (part 2) (3:02)
5. Pigs ( Three Different Ones) (18:44)
6. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (parts 1-5) (13:35)
7. Welcome To The Machine (8:17)
8. Have A Cigar (5:54)
9. Wish You Were Here (6:26)
10. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (parts 6-9) (21:12)
11. Money (10:48)
12. Us And Them (7:18)
Total Time: 2:05:54
- David Gilmour – lead electric guitars; lap steel guitar on “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part VI)”; lead and backing vocals
- Roger Waters – bass guitar; lead and backing vocals; electric guitar on “Sheep” and “Pigs”; acoustic guitar on “Pigs On the Wing (Parts 1 and 2)” and “Welcome to the Machine”
- Rick Wright – keyboards; backing vocals
- Nick Mason – drums; percussion
- Snowy White – guitars (harmony lead on “Dogs”, lead on “Pigs On the Wing (Part 2)”, “Have a Cigar” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”
- Dick Parry – saxophones