Why Pink Floyd? Well I'm really not sure. Not sure of exactly what this intriguing campaign title refers to. What I do know is my invitation stated that I was being invited to another significant Pink Floyd event taking place in New York City. This time it's the "EMI/Capitol Exclusive Party And Audio Premiere Celebrating The Worldwide Launch Of Pink Floyd's Newly Released Catalogue."
Yesterday evening, New York's Rose Center For Earth And Space at the American Museum Of Natural History, hosted EMI/Capitol's launch party for the massive catalogue reissue campaign Why Pink Floyd? For those of you who are not yet familiar with this campaign, please click here for full details. But on to the party, and the special guest...
The party was set to begin at 7pm with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres served in the Cullman Hall Of The Universe. I arrived a few minutes early. The Cullman Hall of the Universe is a permanent exhibition hall on the lower level of the Rose Center at The American Museum Of Natural History complex. The Hall illuminates the stunning discoveries of modern astrophysics and examines such questions as how the universe evolved into galaxies, stars, and planets, and how the atoms from which we are made were created in the hearts of stars. Designed as a rich interpretive environment, this Hall is also the site of hands-on, interactive exhibits and extensive educational programming.
I could easily wrap-up this report by simply saying that from the moment I entered the Cullman Hall, to the moment I departed the Hayden Planetarium, the evening flowed beautifully - like The Dark Side Of The Moon album itself! However, over the next few hours, there were several interesting moments and scheduled events, which are duly worth mentioning.
After checking-in at the security desk, and entering the Cullman Hall, my eyes were immediately drawn to a rather large inflatable pink pig. He sort of stood guard over the party. Never relinquishing his duties. After a few more steps towards the main party area, I noticed that the new Pink Floyd Discovery CD album covers were being projected onto the floor by way of an overhead projector. Then another familiar album projection caught my eye. On a perfectly located plain white area of one of the hall's walls, the cover of The Dark Side Of The Moon album was projected.
As I entered the main party area, I could hear the live 1974 Wembley Pool performance of The Dark Side Of The Moon being played over the hall's sound system. 'The Greatest Gig In The Sky', PF's latest Youtube Channel initiative which accompanies this live audio performance, and repeats itself every hour on the hour from now until September 28th, was being projected onto a separate screen. This is a newly created video consisting of original concert screen films and brand-new animation sequences. Fans from all over the world who are watching this on their PC's and such, are able to post their comments which are then seen throughout the video in the way of little pop-ups.
There were two open bars in the party area, and several roaming hostesses were serving hors d’oeuvres. On display in two glass showcases, were The Dark Side Of The Moon Immersion box set with all its contents neatly layed-out, and the 14-disc Discovery box set laid out in the same manner. Over the next 40 minutes or so I meandered through the area making conversation with executives from EMI/Capitol and other people associated with the music business in one way or another - all while highly anticipating the arrival of Nick Mason who is in the U.S. on a week-long promotional jaunt for the Why Pink Floyd? campaign. Mason seems to be the chosen Pink Floyd band member given the task of promotion. In a matter of a few minutes the presence of Mason was seen by all. People began to gather around him. Some sought a firm handshake with the legendary percussionist. Others sought to have their photograph taken with him. I was seeking both. In addition, I was also hoping to have a few words with him as well.
When I finally came face to face with him, I promptly reintroduced myself and stated that I was with the Brain Damage web site. "Oh yes, I remember you", said Mason. We then spoke about the new releases and I thanked him for his support of the Brain Damage web site. He replied with a firm "My pleasure." I wished him the best of luck with the campaign. Many others were waiting to speak with him so courtesy called for me to keep my conversation brief.
At approximately 7:40pm, Roger Faxon, CEO of EMI Music, took to the podium. He presented us with the opening remarks of the evening. He spoke of Pink Floyd and the exciting newly remastered sets. He then turned over the podium to Jane Ventom. Jane is Senior VP of the EMI Music Catalogue at EMI Music. She added her own thoughts and comments about the Why Pink Floyd? releases and gave us a quick run-down of what the evening's agenda consisted of. At 7:50pm, to a round of applause, she introduced Nick Mason who eagerly took to the podium. He (Mason) also spoke of the band and it's history. He said, amongst several other things, "I'm surprised people are still interested in us and that this reissue campaign was the idea of EMI Music." Mason spoke about 7-8 minutes and left the podium to another round of applause. The party carried on for another few minutes. All the while Mason made the rounds to try to meet as many people as possible.
As precise as the starting time of a Pink Floyd concert, at 8:30pm sharp, Jame Ventom took to the podium again to announce that the second part of the evening's festivities was to commence - the "Interplanetary Playback Of Pink Floyd's 1974 Empire Pool, Wembley Performance Of The Dark Side Of The Moon" in the state-of-the-art adjoining Hayden Planetarium.
The Hayden Planetarium is unlike any other such facility in the world. In the top half of the Hayden Sphere, the most technologically advanced Space Theater in existence will use advanced visual technology (including a customized, one-of-a-kind Zeiss Star Projector) to create shows of unparalleled sophistication, realism, and excitement. With this high-definition system, the Hayden Planetarium is the largest and most powerful virtual reality simulator in the world.
The bottom half of the Hayden Sphere houses the Big Bang, where visitors will be transported to the beginning of time and space, experiencing a dramatic, multisensory re-creation of the first moments of the universe. From here, visitors continue on an awe-inspiring journey that chronicles the evolution of the universe by following the Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway — a sloping walkway that takes them through 13 billion years of cosmic evolution.
Having grown-up in NYC, I'm no stranger to this particular planetarium which holds so many great memories for me. Though over the decades the planetarium has undergone many technological advances and renovations. As a child I would go there with my parents to see the star shows. The school I attended arranged educational field day trips to the planetarium and adjoining Natural History Museum. When I reached my teen years in the mid 1970's, the planetarium produced "Lasarium" laser shows synched-up to the music of progressive rock groups such as Pink Floyd, ELP, Yes, Kraftwerk, and Tangerine Dream.
I took a comfortable seat mid-way back in a location where the air conditioning vent was sending a cool breeze my way. NYC was experiencing a wave of summer-like heat conditions. It was a balmy 81F degrees and very humid. As I looked around I noticed the improvements to the planetarium since my last visit many years ago.
I watched the other guests take their seats. I watched for Nick Mason! I wanted to know where he was going to sit and with whom. He entered the planetarium with three other people, including Andy Jackson. Andy is Pink Floyd's longtime recording engineer. He and James Guthrie helped produce, engineer, and record several of Pink Floyd's classic albums. Mason, with his party, began walking towards the area where I was seated. The row behind me was empty. Sure enough, they all sat in that row. Not only was I about to hear the greatest live recording ever of the third biggest selling album of all time, the longest running album in Billboard Magazine’s Top 100 chart (741 weeks), the largest selling CD in the history of Capitol Records, I would hear it with Mason sitting right behind me!
Soon everyone was in their seats. The lights dimmed and the performance began with the familiar heartbeat we’ve all been acquainted with for many years. The sound was incredible. Acoustically perfect. Never would I hear this performance again in a setting like this. A true once-in-a-lifetime experience. All during the performance we were treated to an interplanetary light show projected onto the huge round domed ceiling. This was synced-up to the music as well creating an atmosphere of outstanding listening/viewing pleasure. Every now and then I'd turn around to catch a glance of Mason. The smiles on his face said it all. He was having a good time!
After some 52 minutes of total audio/video pleasure, the performance came to a close and the house lights were turned on. Another round of applause commenced. Then people began to get-up and stretch. Much in the same way one stretches their legs after a long flight. I also stood-up. Though I turned around to find Mason looking right at me. I could only say the first thing which came into mind: "I wish I had been there!" Both he, and his party, chuckled and smiled. I then told him that unfortunately I didn't see Pink Floyd live until one year later on the 1975 U.S. Wish You Were Here tour. Then, subsequently, every tour after that. I reasserted my sincerest thanks for his support of the Brain Damage web site and once again wished him the best of luck with the new releases. I also wished him a pleasant stay while in New York City.
All the guests now made their way to the main exit/entrance of Cullman Hall. Just before reaching the doors, every guest was given a departing party favour in the form of a black shopping bag with the Why Pink Floyd? logo, release date of 09-27-11, and web site address emblazoned on one side. On the other side are all fourteen Pink Floyd Discovery Edition album covers, the cover of The Dark Side Of The Moon Immersion box set, and the Discovery box set with all fourteen discs and covers spread-out on both sides of the attractive purple box. Inside the bag were three items: a solid black T-shirt with The Dark Side Of The Moon graphics on both sides, a small black button featuring the new Why Pink Floyd? campaign logo, and The Dark Side Of The Moon single CD Discovery Edition.
I'd like to close this report by expressing my sincerest thanks to Jennifer Ballantyne for inviting me to this exclusive Pink Floyd event. Jennifer is EMI/Capitol's Publicity Director. Without her, the evening and this report, would not have been possible. Thanks also go to Kevin Mazur Photography/Wire Image for the exclusive images in this report.