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Lecture Tour in Denmark covering The Dark Side Of The Moon Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Friday, 25 January 2013

DSOTM lecture tour in DenmarkOur friends in Denmark have a special opportunity for an unusual, and entertaining, evening. Thomas Ulrik Larsen, a Danish musician, songwriter, teacher and music journalist, is currently touring the country, and armed with his laptop, a show full of photos, video snippets, sound clips, background history, anecdotes and musical analysis he takes audiences on a two hour trip through Dark Side Of The Moon - 40 years old this year.

He tells us that "It's going down really well. I did an 11 show leg before Christmas and I have just begun a new leg of 12 shows finishing in March. There will also be a 'Lost Towns Leg' in the autumn with about 5 shows."

We thought we'd catch up with Thomas to find out more...

How did the lecture tour come about?
I was invited in for a Floyd talk on Danish national TV when Roger Waters performed The Wall in Copenhagen in 2011. It was fun, but the TV medium requires 30 years of history to be compressed into two insightful minutes of speech. A challenge, but also a bit frustrating. I realized that I liked discussing the Floyd – and I felt it was still an important cultural matter. But I longed for more space than the brief TV interview could offer.

Six months later I was asked to fill in on short notice for a local Floyd historian at a library lecture. The event broke the library’s attendance record by 300%, so I figured I was onto something...

Dark Side Of The Moon seemed such an obvious topic to move on to. It's the 40th anniversary, the new re-issues are still fresh out and the lyrical content is more relevant than ever.

When I started putting feelers out – to libraries, music venues and event halls – the response was very positive. A 25 town tour soon materialized.

How much did you find you needed to research as you were starting to prepare for the tour?
I’ve been a Pink Floyd fan for 25 years, and Dark Side Of The Moon is one of those works of art I can always return to, even after a few years' break. I've always studied literature, DVDs and magazines featuring Floyd related content. In the 90's I even wrote a dull college paper on the song Us And Them which is still sitting somewhere. I've worked on the Floyd's music from many different angles, so my main priority was, well, getting my priorities sorted out. I spent a lot of time and thought deciding what to leave out and what to emphasize. It was important getting a good clear storyline and finding a balance between the serious and the funny stuff. And of course I brushed up on everything I could find at home.

What took me longest were actually the visuals and the sounds. Getting all the video clips, sound edits, lyric slides, and photos to gel was a lot of work. I'm still refining it.

What personal experience do you have of the Floyd live - did you ever see them perform the album live (either originally or on their final tour)?
Actually, I was born around the time Pink Floyd wrote and performed Dark Side prior to recording the album, so rock shows weren't really on the menu for me in those days [laughs]. I didn't catch The Division Bell Tour either, but I saw Roger Waters and his terrific band perform Dark Side on two occasions in 2006 and 2007. The first one was at Roskilde Festival. It was one of the best shows I've ever seen by any artist – and it was even more moving, because Roskilde is my home town.

From 2003 through to 2009 I was MD in a Scandinavian Pink Floyd tribute band, and we must have performed Dark Side in its entirety more than a 100 times.

It sounds like the tour has been successful - are you considering telling the story of other aspects of the Floyd?
Absolutely! The first "accidental" Floyd lecture I did was about Pink Floyd's transition from psychedelia to rock realism. I performed eight of the band's songs solo acoustic as part of the lecture, and I'd like to more of that.

I also have synopsis material ready for three other Floyd themed lectures: "Wish You Were Here", "The Wall" (due out later this year) and "The battle for the Floyd legacy". The latter deals with Pink Floyd's last decade and the solo works of Gilmour and Waters. I'm not going to limit myself to Pink Floyd, though. There are so many great LPs out there that deserve attention. Not only for the songs but also for the albums' place in history.

What should ticket holders expect? And, is it an interactive event - would you want those who saw the early DSOTM shows for instance giving their thoughts on the events?
The lecture is not meant to be interactive as such, but I'd be the first person in the room wanting to hear eyewitness reports from anyone who were THERE. You know the old saying: "If you remember the 60s, you weren't there," and I think that's true for the early Seventies as well. Having said that, I have talked to older Floyd fans who walked into KB Hallen in Copenhagen in 1972 waiting for "Echoes" and older stuff. Only to be treated to a complete live performance of Dark Side, not having a clue what was going on. One grizzled rock fan told me with a huge grin on his face about meeting the Floyd in Copenhagen back in 1967. They went out to check out the town, and the band got him so stoned he still can't believe it!

For the lecture itself, I decided to approach it like a concert because A) I am a musician myself, and B) the lecture is about a landmark album by one of the best live bands ever.

I wanted two "sets", 60 minutes each, with a historical and musical buildup to the main subject, Dark Side Of The Moon. I delve into all the songs on the album but with varying approaches. For certain songs I mostly go into the lyrics, and with other tunes I focus more on composition or production.

The first half, or "set" if you like, of the lecture mainly deals with Pink Floyd's story up to Dark Side. I try to make it clear that you don’t just wake up one morning and decide to record a masterpiece. Everything regarding Floyd followed a natural progression, and if you trace the development it all leads quite organically to Dark Side Of The Moon.

I illustrate that particular development with sound clips from Umma Gumma, Atom Heart Mother and Meddle. I also attempt to point out what the four band members each brought to the table – and what elements you need to have a great band; a complete self contained creative unit.

Considering all the conflict and dysfunction that plagued Pink Floyd in their later years, it's important to point out that the Dark Side version of Pink Floyd was a real group.

Are questions invited from the audience? If so, what have been the most interesting ones you've had so far?
I'm very open and the lectures are quite different from gig to gig. Some nights are almost concert-like with lots of banter, questions, cheering and laughs. Other occasions are more solemn, especially in Jutland (the Western part of Denmark). I'm told that Jutland audiences don’t utter a word or show any sign of interest while you're on – and the next morning over breakfast they go ape with excitement over the last night's experience!

You can’t talk about the Floyd without mentioning Syd Barrett, and one lecture spun into an open ended talk about the Wish You Were Here album. A woman in the audience remarked that her former high school teacher used the album as part of curriculum, and the teacher was convinced that Shine On You Crazy Diamond was a drug song. That almost caused a riot in the auditorium [laughs]. It's like H.C. Andersen readers who see phallic symbols everywhere. Certain Floyd listeners can't see the forest for the cannabis plants!

One night, a high school music professor in the audience initiated a debate about listening habits with the young music audiences. Pink Floyd is known for pristine sound quality and ever bettered reissues. Yet, we have a young generation raised on the MP3-format and sound systems you can carry in your pocket. There is ultimately something bittersweet about the way music has changed regarding production, packaging and distribution.

For me personally, the opening night of the tour brought some kind of closure. The very first Dark Side Of The Moon lecture took place in Roskilde Library. The auditorium is part of the library's music section, and it is the very room where I listened to Dark Side Of The Moon for the first time 25 years ago.

I have eight lectures left on the second leg of the tour, and there will be a short "lost towns" leg in the autumn. You can Google any of the venues and find links to ticket sales. I recommend that you get your tickets in advance.

If you want to get in touch you can find me at facebook.com/thomasul.

Upcoming event dates (Denmark exclusively):
Feb. 1st: Korsør Medborgerhus
Feb. 2nd: Odense Main Library (Odense Bibliotek)
Feb. 6th: Amager Bio, Copenhagen
Feb. 26th: Frederiksberg Library, Copenhagen (Frederiksberg Bibliotek)
Feb. 28th: Vejle Library (Vejle Bibliotek)
March 7th: Hvidovre Main Library (Hvidovre Hovedbibliotek)
March 17th: Det Bruunske Pakhus, Fredericia
March 21st: Ballerup Library (Ballerup Bibliotek)
November 21st: Horsens Library (Horsens Bibliotek)

 
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