for decades, Pink Floyd live has been an eye-popping spectacle... huge arenas packed to the gills with thousands of people, inflatable pigs flying around, and one of the largest laser/light shows ever put together. but in 1971, prior to the release of Dark Side of the Moon, Floyd had not yet taken off to those kinds of heights. Bassist Roger Waters, guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason, and keyboardist Richard Wright had only a few years earlier reinvented themselves after their beloved leader, Syd Barrett, went AWOL and became one of rock music's most notorious acid casualties. Pink Floyd had just written and recorded Meddle, an album that marked a turning point for the band with their first true epic masterpiece, the nearly 24 minute "Echoes," a song which pointed the band in the direction of their most famous work that would follow. in the fall of that year, director Adrian Maben brought the band to an ancient Roman amphitheater in the ruins of Pompeii, the Italian city destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, and with an audience consisting of only the film and sound crew, void of any stage set up or extraneous lighting or props, Pink Floyd turned in a mesmerizing and haunting set. when compared to the large scale, big budget tours that would follow, this stripped-to-the-core performance has an eerie, almost ghostly feel. some live footage was later performed and filmed in a studio in Paris and edited together with the Pompeii footage for a theatrical release in 1972. additional behind the scenes footage of the band in the studio recording Dark Side of the Moon was added for an extended release in '74. In 2003 Maben released a director's cut which unnecessarily included computer generated effects and NASA footage to fluff it's length even more. this "director's cut" is available everywhere on dvd, and if you pick it up, which i highly recommend, be sure to go straight to the original film which is hidden away in the special features section and bypass the extended cut.
Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii is one of the great classic rock performances of all time, capturing the band within that brief and pivotal post-Barrett, pre-Dark Side moment.
NOTE: the Beastie Boys famously paid tribute to Pink Floyd: Live At Pompeii with their video for "Gratitude" from their Check Your Head album in 1992. check it out HERE
NOTE: it looks like the original version has been scrubbed clean from the interwebz at the moment, the only version i can find is the directors cut. i refuse to link that one. hopefully a new upload will come soon.
Pink Floyd - LIVE AT POMPEII - 432Hz from Rebb on Vimeo.
the Dark Side behind the scenes and interview footage from the '74 edition is not included in the original cut, so check that out here.