Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pink Floyd - "Live At Pompeii" (concert)

I own well-worn copies on VHS and DVD, but at work I've recently been playing Youtube versions of Pink Floyd's 1972 concert film "Live at Pompeii" in the background.  I've already covered the similar but far more rare "An Hour With Pink Floyd (KQED)" from 1970.  The latter was never commercially released and is regularly purged from Youtube, while the former concert film is still commercially available and also easy to find on Youtube.  Go figure.

This is an historically important film, showing the group on the cusp of their 1973 watershed, "Dark Side of the Moon".  But I just recently discovered that the interstitial studio footage of the band composing songs for DSOTM was 1) faked, and 2) added for the 1974 re-release of the film.  It is this 1974 version that I have on VHS. 

Somewhat unfortunately, the 2003 DVD version is the "director's cut", and nicely demonstrates that more is not always better.  The songs are the same, but director Adrian Maben has added all kinds of unnecessary of additional space and planetary stock footage.  I get it, "Pink Floyd == Space Music".  But one of the strengths of the original film is Pompeii as a character, almost a fifth member of Pink Floyd.  The long tracking shots of the empty Amphitheatre, the mosaics, volcanic imagery, all help to establish the film's feel, and the director's cut undermines the beautiful (albeit sometimes modishly incorporated) imagery.  Fortunately the 1974 version is an option on the DVD; the 2003 version is to be avoided.

Enough complaining about directorial revisionism -- Maben does deserve credit for making a concert film without an audience (has this been done since?) as well as not attempting to hide the small army of staff supporting the AV gear.  Replacing the audience with staff and infrastructure and playing to an empty Amphitheatre somehow captures the desolation of Pompeii.  The songs are split between 1968 and 1971, with only "Controls" and "Careful" appearing on the "An Hour With Pink Floyd (KQED)".

  1. "Intro Song"
  2. "Echoes, Part 1" (from Meddle, 1971)
  3. "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" (from Point Me At The Sky, B-side, 1968)
  4. "A Saucerful of Secrets" (from A Saucerful of Secrets, 1968)
  5. "One of These Days I'm Going to Cut You into Little Pieces" (from Meddle, 1971)
  6. "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" (from A Saucerful of Secrets, 1968)
  7. "Mademoiselle Nobs" (from Meddle, 1971)
  8. "Echoes, Part 2" (from Meddle, 1971)

Rather than linking to individual songs, all versions uploaded to Youtube in their entirety:

Live At Pompeii: 1972 Version
Live At Pompeii: 1974 Version
Live At Popmeii: 2003 Version

Bonus Links:

From the DVD, an interview with Adrian Maben: part 1, part 2, part 3.

And finally, you can't mention "Live at Pompeii" and not mention the Beastie Boys "Gratitude", in which the entire video is a love letter to "Live at Pompeii".

1 comment:

  1. I was in Pompei in 2006. Its really increadible place, magical, unforgetable. Everyone feel s there how the time stoped. I went on the arena when Pink Floyd played. Amazing