The Great Gig in the Sky
Original Artist: Pink Floyd
Original Album: Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
Albums: Live Phish 07
Historian: Mark Toscano, Tim Wade
The late Richard Wright's single solo contribution to Dark Side of the Moon had been a staple of live Floyd concerts since 1973, but the original, live conception of the album from 1971-72 featured a completely different song in “Great Gig’s” place called “The Mortality Sequence.” This M.I.A. track was also designed by Wright, and was characterized primarily by strange tape effects, voice samples, and freaky church-like organ music, creating an unsettling mix of sonic salad that disturbed and thrilled concert-goers lucky enough to catch this track while it lasted. Wright re-conceived this space in the album’s progression as not a funereal dirge, but rather the aftermath of some theatrical demise, a soundtrack for a soulful soul who is slowly rising to meet her maker.
Phish, "The Great Gig in the Sky" – 8/11/93, Grand Rapids, MI
Phish first displayed a Pink underbelly on 3/14/93 in Gunnison, CO. The band treated the crowd to “You Enjoy Myself” and a vocal jam that included some serious “Welcome To The Machine” action, but the real coup occurred when Fishman took center stage, Electrolux in tow, to perform “Great Gig,” using the vacuum to help him mimic Clare Torry’s otherworldly vocals from the original version on Dark Side. “Great Gig” appeared somewhat regularly as the centerpiece for “Mike’s Grooves” during the spring and summer of 1993, and it actually opened a show in Birmingham, AL on 5/2/94. This song was played once more that year, on 7/5/94 in Ottawa, and did not resurface until the band’s surprise performance of Dark Side on 11/2/98.