October 29 – Floyd Record, 2: For 112 Nights, Division Bell United Fans

If you were a Pink Floyd fan in the ’90s, there was only one place to be on this day in 1994 – London. More precisely, Earl’s Court in the British capital, as that’s where the Floyd would be playing their last-ever “regular” concert.

Of course, as is the case in many such events, those in attendance had little idea at the time it would be the last time to see David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright together in a full, conventional concert, with or without Roger Waters. All they knew was it was the finale on the wildly-successful “Division Bell” tour, some 27 years after they’d embarked on their very first tour. In the years between, Pink Floyd had become the most popular “prog rock” band in the world and put out a run of hit albums including two of the biggest-sellers ever – Dark Side of The Moon and The Wall. And their concerts had become famous for the incredible light shows, special effects and props (flying pig anyone?) involved.

The “Division Bell” tour was going to be no different, other than perhaps a bit more over-the-top still. It had been seven years since their previous new record and over five since their last tour, so David Gilmour wanted to make it a memorable one. To whit, they had a 180-foot wide stage with a huge arch, designed to look like the Hollywood Bowl to play on, the most elaborate light show yet (including expensive copper lasers only used in scientific experiments and high-tech industries before) and an exploding model plane flying over. In all, it took some 53 trucks to transport, with over 150 crew. No wonder they played two or more nights in many locales!

They changed up their set lists a little from night to night, and quite noticeably between the North American part which began it and the European leg that concluded. But in general, they played two sets with about ten songs in each and came back for a two or three song encore, in all covering their whole career but concentrating on Dark Side of the Moon, which in most of the European shows they played in its entirety during the second set. Which made the eight extra musicians they brought along to back them all the more necessary. They generally opened up with the song that opened up their lengthy career – “Astronomy Domine”, a Syd Barrett song from their first album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, before heading into recent territory with “Learning to Fly.” The encore included in various shows “Wish You Were Here,” “Hey You” and ended with “Run Like Hell”. Even though The Wall had been almost entirely Roger Waters pet project and he’d famously left the band under less-than-cordial terms, they didn’t shy away from playing a good portion of it for the ecstatic fans.

And there were lots of those. The tour kicked off in Miami on March 30, and ran 112 shows through 21 countries, wrapping up with an unprecedented 14 concerts at Earl’s Court, a 21 000 seat venue considered England’s premier indoor events center. Most concerts along the way were sold out; on this side of the ocean, stops in L.A., San Francisco, Boston, Montreal, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Toronto and Detroit (or their suburbs) all saw over 100 000 people attend over two or three nights; in New York City it was over 220 000 over four nights in two different stadiums. In the European shows, Volkswagen gave away a limited-edition Golf, with high-end stereo and a particularly fuel-efficient engine, every night. Little wonder then that by the time it was over, it had raked in over $250 million, even though tickets weren’t outrageously expensive for the era. In New York, Yankee Stadium tickets averaged about $32 each. At the time, it was the most lucrative concert tour ever, although another aging British band, the Rolling Stones, would top it just a year later.

Of course, no one then knew that it would end up being the end of Pink Floyd’s illustrious concert-giving career. But by 2001, Gilmour said “you never know what the future (holds), but I certainly don’t see myself going out for a big Floyd tour again.” And he hasn’t; and with Richard Wright’s death in 2008, it would seem all the less likely to occur now. That isn’t to say it was the very last time they appeared and performed together mind you. They played at their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1997 (with Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins filling in for Waters), two songs at their manager, Steve O’Rourke’s funeral in 2003 and a couple of songs at a Syd Barrett tribute in 2007. Waters performed at the same concert, but avoided his old band. And more notably, they did get together for the 2005 Live 8 concert, in which Roger Waters joined them – even appearing amicable – for a five song set.

Those who weren’t at Earl’s Court, or who were and want to relive it can have a chance. They put out a live CD and DVD, Pulse, taken from shows in London and Rome from the tour.


11 thoughts on “October 29 – Floyd Record, 2: For 112 Nights, Division Bell United Fans

  1. Badfinger (Max)

    My friend at the time got some tickets to this tour’s stop at Vanderbilt. I took Jennifer and they were great. I did a lot of listening to Dark Side of the Moon before I went. It was over the top and spectacular…. I knew more of the songs than I thought. The one thing I took away were the pig…how can anyone not like a pig with laser like eyes?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. wow, that would have been cool! I didn’t know the little pig had laser eyes! Definitely a band worth seeing, I regret not going to see them on this tour or the one before…. probably was a money issue back then but should have found a way. Oh well. Probably going to be later today before I can get over to your site (or other people’s)…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Badfinger (Max)

        You know me Dave…I was never a big Pink Floyd fan but something told me… yea I want to go to this one….there were rumors this could be the last so I’m so glad I did get to see them…even minus Waters.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I guess I’m fortunate to have seen Pink Floyd twice in the ’90s, once in Germany and once in the US – both shows were truly spectacular. The light action and the sound effects were crazy. From the US gig in 1993 I still recall the 360 sound, where Gilmour would play a chord on his guitar, and it literally travelled around around the stadium!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Neat! They really did go all out for a concert from all reports. Given their stature and the complexity of the shows, it’s amazing to me tickets were so cheap back then – $32 average, at least in NYC, which would be about $60 now. Not cheap, but way less than some concerts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I honestly can’t remember how much I spent on the ticktes, but it certainly was much less than what you’d have to dole out today.

        On Saturday, I met with a good music friend. He’s in his early ’70s. He has seen artists like Led Zeppelin and Stevie Wonder for less than 10 bucks. Can you believe that?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I can, but that was a bygone era. I only once got up to $100 a ticket, for scalped REM tickets with seats at amphitheater (most of seating is just lawn) in ’95 or ’94. I thought it was exorbitant but, hey, I worked 44h a week back then & LUVVED their music. Now…that wouldn’t get you in doors for a big Eagles or U2 show.

        Liked by 1 person

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