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The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains – a last look in London Print E-mail
Written by Ed Lopez-Reyes   
Tuesday, 03 October 2017
The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains at the V&A in London May - Oct 2017

If you haven't made it to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London for the Pink Floyd exhibition, Their Mortal Remains, or you want to see it again before it closes, you're in luck: as mentioned previously here on Brain Damage, the museum has extended the exhibition, but it must close for good on October 15th.

Tickets for the extended run, and the extra hours they are also running on selected dates (opening from 9am, and staying open until 10pm), are on sale now but selling extremely fast - this has officially been the V&A's most successful music exhibition they have held, with over 373,000 visitors since it opened in May this year. This coming weekend the exhibition will be open for an incredible 42 hours, to help people get in and see it.

Here are some pointers on what to look for to get the most out of your first and/or last visit(s) on this final stretch in London.

Several things to note if you plan to squeeze this in sometime in the remaining two weeks: the lines are still long (but fast-moving), tickets are difficult to buy at the door (they are usually sold-out for the day on the day), and the walk along the exhibit is still elbow-to-elbow (particularly at the beginning). Obviously some times of the day are preferable to others - if you can get to the museum for an early session, you will find it much quieter and easier to move around, as many people are travelling to get to the V&A.

Many of the review items Brain Damage's Matt related at the beginning of the exhibition stand and will be underscored here. Here's a quick guide:

  • Before you head in, read Matt's exhibition review for Brain Damage. Having gone after reading the review and having read it again after attending the exhibition, it is easy to discern how spot-on it is.
  • Take your time in the first couple of rooms: many significant details, remarkable collectors’ items, and the significance of the cultural context in which the band was formed are tackled there – it frames the entire walk through the other rooms in ways few reference sources do.
  • Check out the Pink Floyd 'family tree'; it’s a great reminder of a number of things including the importance of Nick Mason as a constant in the band, the impact of Richard Wright's presence (or lack thereof) in some periods, and the enigmatic form the band took following Waters' departure. The tree can be a great source of debate: is A Momentary Lapse of Reason a true Pink Floyd record, considering what the line-up consisted of? If not so, in your view: what makes The Final Cut any more authentically a Pink Floyd album? Did Waters rejoin the band for that brief period in 2005, for Live 8, as a member… or was it actually Pink Floyd performing *with* Roger Waters (as Pink Floyd's website advertised at the time of the Live 8 event)? Was it the Division Bell line-up of Pink Floyd that played Barbican in 2007 but just went unnoticed as such? Does Pink Floyd still exist in the form of Gilmour and Mason, even if The Endless River is the last album the band will ever release?
  • The Ummagumma display at The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains at London's V&ANotice the places where Pink Floyd played live in those early days and the bands they shared bills with. It’s a bit of a dimensional warp. Did you know Pink Floyd played in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1970? Sure, the information is out there: but seeing an actual poster of the event makes it visceral and makes you wonder how the band was received in this predominantly Mormon community back in the day – as well as in many other places where they were truly representing something unusual. If anything, this may compel you to search through the band's tour history to see if they played in your town, your alma mater, or some other place with personal meaning - Brain Damage has a link to all those dates.
  • Become part of the Ummagumma display. If there ever was a time to take a selfie, or a situation where that was the most practical picture you could really take, this is it. Opportunities like this don’t come too often.
  • Take your time at the Money mixing board: I have always felt it is Mason that carries Dark Side of the Moon. The drumming is emotive. You hear it on Pulse. And you can hear it here, clearly. The strength of Dark Side of the Moon is in the sum of all parts, but Mason's drumming is the current that supports the entire works ebb and flow.
  • Sometimes, in some exhibitions, it’s tempting to skip videos: why stop to watch something on film if you have so much tangible stuff in front of you? This is a tour where you really want to take the time to watch the videos carefully. My top picks? David Gilmour playing two of his guitars at Abbey Road and talking about their history. You look at the case, around the screen, and see these guitars right there. You can't help but wonder how many hours of your life's soundtrack were played on these guitars over so many years. Also Marc Brickman's and Storm Thorgerson's feedback on the A Momentary Lapse of Reason era.
  • The guitars and other instruments are spread throughout the exhibit: Gilmour's guitars are something else because if you think about it while you're in front of them, you will begin to realize how often you've seen these guitars in videos you’ve watched over and over: particularly a guitar like the cherry red Fender Stratocaster from the 80s and 90s.
  • When you walk into the Wish You Were Here exhibition room… pause. Take it all in. This was a very powerful statement from the band – very introspective. And you can sense it when you look around. Listen to the music and watch the videos. Look for the Polaroid in the room (you'll figure out the one) and, in your head, picture the day it was taken. Watch other visitors get absorbed in this particular set of presentations. The Wish You Were Here exhibition room is one of the most striking.
  • As you walk into the latter part of the Waters era, consider scale. As Matt mentioned in his review, look up. And consider how everything that happens in this period is so transformative for the entire music industry. Make sure to check out Gilmour's notes for The Wall production: in some ways it's interesting to see how much imagination he was investing in Pink Floyd's live presence back then considering how much of it was defined by Waters.
  • The AMLOR/DSOT display at The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains at London's V&AAs you approach the A Momentary Lapse of Reason space, take the time to listen to and watch the video stream of One Slip: a great choice because it's a track that will general get glossed over when the A Momentary Lapse of Reason album is re-visited. It stands, however, as a great example of what made Phil Manzanera and Gilmour collaborations something unique. It's also important to think about the punch this line-up brought to the Pink Floyd experience. While many bands hire additional musicians to play off-stage, Pink Floyd put an incredible line-up of musicians on stage and gave them a chance to breathe a totally new life into the band. And it worked: sales and fan enthusiasm were the ultimate proof. This is a smokin' version of One Slip. It makes you wonder why this hasn't been added to a re-release of Delicate Sound of Thunder (maybe more on that in a future discussion?). Guy Pratt kills it on the bass. David Gilmour, Tim Renwick, and Scott Page layer the guitar parts with impeccable precision. Gary Wallis and Mason propel the song forward with the purest momentum. Richard Wright and Jon Carin carry the track through in a way that shows why they were an incredible team. The video reminds you how the back-up singers didn't only add texture to the music but to the visuals as well. This was Pink Floyd at a completely new level.
  • As with the other videos in the exhibition, this is one area where you want to make sure and soak a few things up – particularly Brickman's story on how the Momentary Lapse of Reason stage production developed and Thorgerson's narrative on how the album cover came together. And check out that cherry red Stratocaster right near these videos.
  • When walking through The Division Bell and Pulse, take the scale in: you'll begin to focus on fascinating details, but make sure to take the time to look up, around, and to consider the visuals of larger scale from different perspectives.
  • As you walk through The Endless River, it's time to think about how you grew up listening to this band. And make sure to read a bit about Richard Wright as you begin to egress. Read the last caption on the wall, as you walk toward the last room. The caption is titled No Turning Back and really gives you a powerful sense of closure.
  • Once done, as you walk into the room with multiple screens and the AMBIO surround, bear in mind the notes Matt shared: these screens show multiple angles of the footage and photographs from Live 8 – items not seen before. When you walk in, you will notice most people congregate in one part of the room and sit facing the same way. Try that angle out – but make sure to sit facing the screens in different directions: through at least two or three runs of the tracks. Walk around the space to hear different aspects of the music - there is no 'sweet spot'. Watch for the great overhead shots of Mason playing drums. Probably some of the best footage you will see.
  • Finally, also reiterating a point Matt raised: before you enter the store, read the credits on the wall adjacent to it (now better lit). A lot of effort was put into this exhibition. While it will be a very successful commercial endeavour, it also represents a labor of passion and love for the music. Brain Damage's own founder Glenn Povey is listed among the folks who worked hard on this project. It's quite a treat to see his and others' names on there. Custodians of a great legacy. This may only be the last look at the exhibition *in London*…

Tickets for the exhibition, which is due to run until October 15th, 2017, are on sale now and many dates are now showing restricted availability, and some dates are sold out altogether. Ticket concessions, including family tickets at reduced prices, are available. V&A Members go free. Advance booking is very strongly advised. Tickets can be purchased from Ticketmaster, Seetickets, direct from the V&A at vam.ac.uk/pinkfloyd, by calling 0800 912 6961 (booking fee applies), or in person at the V&A itself. More information on the event can be found at www.pinkfloydexhibition.com/.

You can place your order for the hardback book (featuring a lovely 3D lenticular cover, specific to this edition) which accompanies the exhibition, through the following direct links: Amazon UKAmazon.comAmazon CanadaAmazon FranceAmazon GermanyAmazon Spain and Amazon Italy.

 
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