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Pink Floyd - Live At Pompeii CD (album) cover

LIVE AT POMPEII

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.75 | 353 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars The original Pink Floyd; a quintessential document of 70s space rock

I sat down and watched this again on a lazy afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The VHS version was my first look at this, and I am happy to watch that until it deteriorates from overuse. I love the way it flickers, the lines, the glitches, it is all part of the vintage Pink Floyd experience, the raw music and the raw footage. The DVD features much more of course, especially those bizarre interviews when the band were about to unleash their masterpiece that changed their lives. But the original film on VHS is revered as one of the best historical looks at Pink Floyd at the peak of their powers.

The band play outdoors to an invisible audience, perhaps the spirits of ancient Pompeii were listening. Little did the band know that this would be a beloved document of the band before they captured lightning in a bottle with "Dark Side of the Moon". The iconic imagery that sticks in the brain; the slow zoom towards them at the beginning of 'Echoes', Waters working with the infamous sequencer for 'On the Run', the mosaic skull at the intro of 'Careful with that Axe Eugene', the bold colour fonts introducing each song, and of course Waters banging the gong in silhouette on a white sky. There is an atmosphere of impending doom on 'Careful With that Axe Eugene' as we see images of the band walking on the volcanic mountain, mist and steam circling at their heels, and Waters deathly cold whispering. The lave spouts ignite sparks in the blackened sky as he sardonically screams, augmenting the ethereal atmosphere.

The interviews say little but if you read between the lines you can pull out things of interest; "rock is dying", Waters moans, "Unfortunately we mark a certain era... most people think of us as very dramatic...if people come to a concert and they don't like it they don't come again..." Mason: "We do have infighting when we explode..." The fly on the wall style doco is fun to watch; Gilmour: "What would rock 'n' roll do without feedback?.." Waters: "just turn it down a bit..."

'One of These Days' is featured with great bass and drums, a very powerful song in any case, but live even more so. This version feels faster and more intense, with cameras focussing on the expressions of the artists, Mason at the drums, the vibrating bass section has some iconic imagery, still shots of the band recording, the mixer, Mason lost in his drumming, 9 images of Mason in one kaleidoscopic shot, It is cult classic material.

'Mademoiselle Nobs' is a rather rare experimental piece that focuses on a borzoi dog (a Russian wolfhound, I used to own one) barking in to a microphone primarily, caused by Gilmour's harmonica, which is rather trippy. 'Brain damage' is great to watch in its infant form before the bombastic finale to "Dark Side of The Moon" was recorded. We see a slow pan in the studio with Gilmour playing the lead parts to a recording of other members.

The film is bookended by 'Echoes' played at the outdoor amphitheatre with slow moving cameras skulking around the speaker amps. The band are seen running on the volcano, ash spilling of their footsteps. There is a mystical feel on this as we see shots of the Pompeii ruins and very strange sounds.

Overall the film is certainly an indispensable document of early psych prog from the masters themselves; a compelling doco/concert and well worth a look for space prog addicts.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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