Thursday, 20 July 2017

I've got a grand piano to prop up my mortal remains

When I popped down to London for my birthday I couldn't resist making the most of it by revisiting the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A (you can read about my first visit here). It was a fairly last minute decision as I'd only decided the week before and bought a ticket as soon as the idea entered my head. I was primarily going to London to see The Killers at Hyde Park, but as that wasn't until the evening and I wasn't eager to get to the venue too early it felt an obvious choice, especially as I was really hoping to go back and see the exhibition again anyway.

pink floyd their mortal remains syd barrett piper at the gates of dawn

I can't really explain the feeling this exhibition gives me other than sheer euphoria; to be so completely immersed in a band that means so much to me. I love the headphone aspect as it makes the experience so completely immersive and so personal, you almost forget everyone else is even there. I really feel like that's part of the magic of the exhibition; that everyone is wandering around in their own little Pink Floyd filled world.

As I entered and saw the giant replica Bedford van I did suddenly feel slightly worried that it wouldn't be as good as last time as I'd already seen everything and they'd be no surprises. But I actually enjoyed the experience more this second time around which I didn't think was possible as I loved it so much already!

When I booked my ticket they were nearly all sold out, and being a Saturday I expected it to be packed. Whilst it was definitely busy, it was much less busy than before when I attended a few days after opening. I didn't feel like I was playing sardines at any point, and it was much easier to frame my photographs without getting any of the other visitors in shot. Because I'd already seen everything and knew what was there I was able to actually focus on the items and areas that interested me instead of trying to take absolutely everything in at once like last time. Because of this, I came away really feeling like I'd learnt little tidbits I'd picked up instead of just having it all wash over me.

I also noticed a few little changes had been made which definitely helped the exhibition flow more smoothly. Just little things, like the Syd Barrett display at the beginning had been rejigged so it no longer blocked the entrance, and the headphone sets connected much more seamlessly without having to stand in a specific spot to hear.

pink floyd their mortal remains syd barrett piper at the gates of dawn
Replicas of Syd Barrett's guitars (unfortunately no one knows what happened to his actual ones which is so sad, musical history has been lost there) and a 1960s zippo lighter like he used to play his guitar.

"One has to recognise that Syd, apart from looking good and playing guitar and so on, wrote songs and that was the unique and very special thing" - Nick Mason

pink floyd their mortal remains
A street map of Cambridge with historical Pink Floyd related locations pin pointed. I found this really interesting as it puts their early life into perspective as I'm not familiar with Cambridge. I left this photo in it's original size if you'd like to click through and read it.

pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
Nick Mason's shirts and hat, sadly the only clothing on display which is a shame as they wore some really fab stuff throughout the years! I noticed almost all of Nick's things were credited to his first wife Lindy.

pink floyd their mortal remains
Nick's drumsticks engraved with his name, and one of David Gilmour's guitars and several of his pedals. All from 1969-1970.

pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
Part of a string of coins made by Nick used to create the intro to Money on Dark Side of the Moon.

pink floyd their mortal remains
David's actual black strat with a film of him discussing it in the background, and one of Nick's drum kits.

"A lot of experimentation that was going on musically ... could have, if they weren't careful, moved Pink Floyd away from rock altogether ... One of the reasons it never does that is because there's a kind of steel in there at all times. What roots Pink Floyd in rock music is Nick Mason's drumming. However complex the ideas, he gives these often superb repeated loop grooves which really make it feel like it's a rock exploration ... it's the rhythm that does that." - Howard Goodall, musicologist and composer

pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
Roger Waters' handwritten lyrics to Have a Cigar, and a polaroid photo taken by Nick of Syd Barrett's surprise visit to the studio when they were recording Wish You Were Here; "David asked me if I knew who he was...even then I couldn't place him, and had to be told. It was Syd."

pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
Roger Waters' hand written lyrics and sketches for The Wall

pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
Rick Wright with his 'surrogate' for The Wall stage show, with the mask of his face the surrogate wore.

pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
One of the sheep parachutes used for their Animals/In The Flesh tour. Fireworks would be shot into the air, and these paper sheep with weighted feet would float down into the audience.

pink floyd their mortal remains
Nick would often write gig notes on his drum heads and use gaffer tape to dampen the sound. This is one of his snare drum heads which was broken by Nick at the at the Oakland Coliseum Arena in 1977. The writing is mostly the location codes that had been previously agreed by the band to call out during the show so illegal bootlegs could be traced.

Also David's guitar, Electric Mistress pedal and Big Muff pedal, and one of Rick's keyboards.

pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
Roger's outfit he wore on stage during his solo tour of The Wall from 2010 - 2013.

"When I was working with Syd, Nick, Rick and David I'd been very lucky. It was a great platform. The name of that band is sort of irrelevant. It's being there and having the opportunity to do the work that's priceless." - Roger Waters

pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains
pink floyd their mortal remains

I sat in the end cinema room showing the Live 8/Arnold Layne/High Hopes videos for far too long just enjoying the atmosphere (as let's face it, it's the closest experience I'll ever get to seeing Pink Floyd live!). I was in the exhibition for 2 and a half hours, which I felt was pretty good considering it took over 4 last time!

I still don't feel done with this exhibition. I wish I still lived in London as traveling is my biggest prohibiter, but as it is I'm hoping to get down there at the end of September to see it one last time before it closes.

pink floyd their mortal remains

I hadn't planned to spend much in the gift shop, telling myself I only wanted the Saucerful of Secrets tshirt and a few duplicates of the pins I bought last time. But I'm weak, and as it was my birthday it was far too easy to justify! Unfortunately I wasn't able to get the duplicate pin I wanted of Algie, but I got plenty more to make up for it. I couldn't resist buying the Record Store Day release of Interstellar Overdrive as I don't like RSD nor the jacked up prices on eBay. I also got an Animals top which I picked out on a whim yet have already won plenty, a few postcards, an Algie keyring, and a David Bowie tote from their small display from the Bowie exhibition a few years ago as I really wanted a tote and wasn't feeling the Pink Floyd designs.

2 comments

  1. What an amazing exhibit! It's always a great experience to look at things that mean so much to you, as this band clearly does to you. Glad you had such a good time :)

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