Pink Floyd was a struggling, near-penniless band when it took the stage in Port Chester for the first and only time.
The young English group was just six months from its fifth studio effort -- and several years behind its two most famous albums -- when Roger Waters struck the first chords on stage at Port Chester's Capitol Theater in April of 1970.
The set list reflects the group's pre-rock star status: four songs in, Pink Floyd launched into Atom Heart Mother, a 20-plus-minute opus from the band's eponymous album, and an effort David Gilmour later described as "a load of rubbish."
Pink Floyd would play New Orleans in less than a month, an ill-fated stop that made rock headlines and resulted in the cancellation of the group's remaining U.S. tour dates. With their equipment stolen in New Orleans, the band slinked off back to their native U.K.
Every track from Pink Floyd's ten-song set at The Capitol comes from Ummagumma (1969) and Atom Heart Mother (1970).
With that material, and with those circumstances, it might be easy to dismiss the recording the way Waters did when he told a writer Atom Heart Mother should be "thrown into the dustbin and never listened to by anyone ever again."
But The Capitol performance represents not only a band on the cusp of greatness, but a band at a crossroads -- it would have been easy for Waters and co. to take the disastrous U.S. tour and lukewarm album reviews as bad omens and hang up their guitars. Instead, they went on to discover rock immortality through a pair of efforts that have echoed across record stores and college dorm rooms for almost half a century.
The Capitol performance -- with its mix of immediacy and meandering guitar riffs -- has found new life on the internet in several different incarnations, from pure sound board rips to scratchy recordings surreptitiously captured by fans. For obsessive collectors, it's an ultra-rare trophy among dozens of more famous performances. For Port Chester natives, it's nostalgia and a piece of history.
Read more about Pink Floyd's historic concert at Port Chester's Capitol Theater here, here and here. To listen to the performance, click here.
Legendary Port Chester runs every Tuesday and profiles historic performances in the village's history. Got an old recording from a seminal concert at The Capitol or the old 7 Willow Street? Tell us about it, and don't forget to share your favorite memories of the show. Were you at a concert we've already profiled? Write in and tell us about your experience in Port Chester's sonic history.
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