After a short Japan tour in August 1971, Pink Floyd headed for Australia in September for their very first Australian 'tour' (only 2 dates here as well, this first night and then the band would play at the Racetrack in Sydney on the 14th). This Fall 2008 Godfather Records release presents a nice but distant stereo audio document of the band's "First Australian Show" on the 13th of September 1971 at the Festival Hall in Melbourne.
The concert begins with a stripped down presentation of their latest touring project, "Atom Heart Mother", sans the brass section and John Aldiss choir to accompany and enhance the piece which causes the band to abbreviate the composition by 7 minutes (according to the provided liner notes). While I would agree with these notes that the band compensates by playing more aggressively due to the stripped-down performance, it's hard to really appreciate the piece along with the other progressive and spacey tunes such as "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" and "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" due to the taper being situated at the back of the hall and losing much of the impactful emotion of these tunes. That's really the only problem here with the tape of this performance, you REALLY feel the space between us and them (pun fully intended!). Given the audible spatial challenges of the source tape, other tracks shine such as the simplistic "Green Is The Colour" (which wouldn't be played again after these Australian performances)...and most of the very aggressive and impressive renditions of "Echoes"/"Cymbaline" played as one continuous finale - both literally bring the house down as the crowd finally gets a chance to display some appreciation after showing due respect to the band by tempering the noise throughout the show. "Echoes" was introduced as such about 5 weeks earlier in Hakone, Japan although it was a work-in-progress through the early Spring of '71 and referenced in the live repertoire as "'Return Of The Son Of Nothing". During this August/September period, as the composition became solid, the band infused extra lyrics that were much different to what eventually appeared on vinyl and how it was performed going forward. Here, the Melbourne tape features an example of the epic "Echoes" with those different lyrical verses prior to the Meddle LP being released in November 1971.
In terms of performance and playing on this particular night, Rick Wright is quite impressive as is David Gilmour. On this tape, their efforts are really showcased as Waters is buried in the space but Nick Mason's drums are fairly clear throughout. This is not a bad tape at all, it's just one that takes the ears some adjustment time to allow the details to come to light given the taping location.
The packaging again here is stellar, with GFR incorporating a professional black & white graphical treatment to the trifold cardboard slipcase. What GFR has been conciously providing are photos that are either from the particular gig, or at least from the particular period being represented - ALL tastefully designed...and "First Australian Tour" gets the same grand treatment. I wouldn't recommend this title to the casual collector but highly recommend picking this up to the avid collector looking for a nice artifact of the Melbourne '71 tape.