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How did the band decide on doing the electric/acoustic/electric format for the tour? It’s pretty standard stuff these days, but had anybody done it prior to you guys?
“No, they didn’t. Nobody did that before us. Here’s what happened with that: We tried earlier to start the show on acoustics, but it didn’t work. The people in the audience were restless, they were coming in, taking their sets, getting their popcorn or whatever – the energy just wasn’t right for that. You have to get the audience in the right frame of mind for that, and you can’t do at the start of the show. So we just said, ‘Why don’t we rock out for the first few songs, let people get into it, and then we’ll break out the acoustics later on?’ At first, it was simply functional, but then it worked out to be interesting show business-wise as well.”
I’m assuming that the running order on the box set mirrors the basic setlist of the tour. How did the band arrive at setlists back then? Was it a bit of a grab bag?
“It’s always been a grab bag. For this project, with Joel Bernstein and Stanley Johnston – he was the engineer, and he did a brilliant job – we made a digital map of every single song, in what order, from all of the shows, 31 of ‘em. We noticed a pattern to the sets, so we made a line through the digital map of the journey, and it worked out to be pretty good.”
At outdoor shows even today, the sound can be iffy. What was it like for the stadium gigs in ‘74? Was the monitor system good?
“The monitor situation left a lot to be desired, in retrospect, but at the time we had what we thought were the best speakers and the best guys around to do the front-of-house sound. We did play awfully loud, but you know, that’s fine. Personally, I had a great time on that tour. I don’t give a shit what David and Stephen and Neil think of it – I had fabulous time.
“We reached not only the front row but the back row, too. And sometimes the back row was a mile and a half away. [Laughs] You got to be able to hear yourselves to do some of the intricate harmonies that we do. It wasn’t always perfect, but we managed to do it.”
Neil’s song Goodbye Dick is a nice little surprise. How did that happen?
“It’s a great song, isn’t it? It was the last song that I found, after I had done the programming of everything else. There was no way I was going to leave it off. It’s very much in the spirit of the whole thing. On that tour, we were really in tune with what was affecting people. In ’74, the Vietnam War was ending, Watergate was happening – this is why I put Goodbye Dick on. What a cool song. It’s only a minute and a half, but it’s fantastic. It was only done once during all 31 shows.”