By Liane Kate, supporting journalist Tim Jenkins
RW went down to London to the V&A Museum to review the first international retrospective of one of the world’s most iconic and influential bands Pink Floyd. Presented by the V&A, Pink Floyd and Iconic Entertainment Studios. An exhibition set to rival the popularity of the South Kensington museum’s sell-out David Bowie exhibition, which drew more than 300,000 visitors during its time.
The 350-strong collection of Floydian artefacts is as captivating as it is vast. With Sennheiser 3D audio powering the experience the visitor takes their journey chronologically through the band’s diverse career and catalogue. With hit albums such as Wish You Were Here, The Wall and The Dark Side of the Moon. You are able to follow the band’s career from playing small clubs in London to selling out stadiums around the world. The band have sold more than 250 million records since their 1967 debut, despite line-up changes which saw original frontman Syd Barrett fall victim to drug addiction and keyboard player Rick Wright and songwriter Roger Waters walk out at different times, before drummer and guitarist Nick Mason and David Gilmour called it a day. Waters, Mason and Gilmour have all given the exhibition their blessing and went through their personal archives to provide exhibits including guitars, costumes and handwritten lyrics. They also gave video interviews detailing the band’s journey that are shown throughout the exhibition.
Early 70s rock was filled with striking images, vivid album covers and experimental sound. Pink Floyd were at the heart of this movement and it is reflected in each of the exhibits as you move through each space. For The Dark Side of the Moon album, you walk into a room dedicated to the the refracting prism design for the album cover that Pink Floyd’s visual team Hipgnosis created. The photograph of two businessmen shaking hands, one in flames, for 1975’s Wish You Were Here album. This was taken before special effects so the man was really set alight and given a wig to place on his head for when the inevitable fake hair caught fire. You walk into a huge room, where you see a large scale model with the giant inflatable pig floating above Battersea power station for the 1977 album Animals. .
Their Mortal Remains Exhibition concludes with a concert room acoustically and visually brilliant to the spectators. Music chosen from the largely instrumental album Gilmour and Mason constructed in tribute to Richard Wright, who died in 2008.
This is a must ‘go to’ exhibition for all Pink Floyd fans and for people who want to find out more about the music and history made by one of the biggest and most influential music bands of all time.
On meeting Nick Mason – Drummer and only member of the band to have played on every album
Nick Mason on the success of Pink Floyd:
“it takes an odd group of people to form a successful band”
When asked about Live 8 [concert in Hyde Park in 2005], Nick said “the only way that was going to happen was if Roger Waters phoned Dave Gilmour. So Nick rang Roger and said, “Look, Bob [Geldof] wants you to phone Dave because he’s got an idea…” and it happened..”I’m really pleased we did it. Before that, getting Dave; Roger in the same room was pretty much impossible! They’re better these days, I’m pleased to say!”
When asked about the current resurgence of interest in Syd Barrett, Nick said “No Syd, no Pink Floyd We like to think of Live At Pompeii as our idea, but it wasn’t. It was [Director] Adrian Maben’s. It’s good that it happened really, because there’s very little other footage of us playing around that time (1972). We had to run an extension from the cathedral as there were no plug sockets or electrical power at the amphitheater.”
Pink Floyd improvised the music to the moon landing in 1969 in a BBC studio. There was a panel of scientists on one side of the studio. Called ‘Moonhead’, it was broadcast at 10pm on 20 th July, 1969 When asked on the format for the broadcast Nick said “It was all improvised, we went into the studios at the BBC and just played while watching the moon landings”.
Nick Mason said “I couldn’t recommend [the study of] architecture highly enough as a way of getting into rock & roll”. He also said that “Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of the Moon started out as a scheduling workflow used in planning architectural designs.”
Meeting Nick Mason was a real highlight to the trip. He is a down to earth chap, with a real love for music and the history he has made and shared over the years. He is also known for his love of cars and racing, having share with us during the interview that just last week he had backed one of his classics into the tower at The Goodwood Circuit.
The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains runs until 1st October 17. https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/pink-floyd
Co Journalist: @BleetinTimbles