Fans of Pink Floyd, one of the most remarkable bands ever to grace a stage, are in for a serious treat come May 13th. To mark 50 years since the group released their very first single Arnold Layne, the Victoria & Albert museum are putting on an immersive exhibition which drops people smack bang into the psychedelic world of The Floyd.
Opening on Saturday and running for 20 weeks this epic exhibition is set to rival the popularity of it’s last musical extravaganza that showcased the late great David Bowie. Fans of the band are able to follow a journey through their musical career focusing on the ever increasing size of the venues they played and the iconic visuals that were such a trademark.
You enter the exhibition through a large scale replica of the black Bedford van that they gigged in during their early days. The van was bought for the princely sum of £20 and was decorated with a very snazzy white stripe as you can see in the pic below.
And it keeps on with the weird and wonderful right from that get go. Whether it be walking past the amazing model of Battersea Power Station, compete with mini flying pig, which featured on the front of their ‘Animals‘ LP in 1977. They of couldn’t have fitted the real life giant version of the floating porker used as they’d have needed a much larger museum, but the result is still rather special. Other highlights include large scale spectacular set and construction pieces from the bands most innovative and legendary album covers, and stage performances including The Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall and The Division Bell. There’s a Dark Side corridor which plays the album on repeat with just a spinning hologram of the famous prism off the album cover. Pretty cool.
There’s also a rogues gallery of many of the the instruments they played, you can salivate over Dave Gilmour’s Stratocaster guitar, or ‘the black strat’ as it was known, and kit geeks will love seeing the likes of the quadrophonic sound box that is the Azimuth co-ordinator custom built by Bernard Speaight and used onstage during The Games At May show at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1967.
Another nice touch is the inclusion of a mid-‘70s gig rider, which shows which tipples The Floyd were partial too, with Southern Comfort, Beaujolais, beer, tequila, Scotch and brandy all making a pretty rock-and-roll list. We also get handwritten lyrics and even letters from tragic first Floyd frontman Syd Barrett to a girlfriend.
With top-notch effects (you know that £20+ ticket fee is getting spent well at least) it’s an often trippy, super multi-sensory experience that gives wonderful insight into the bands groundbreaking music, although offering less in terms of who Pink Floyd the people were and what their relationships were like as artists and sometime friends. Possibly fitting as for a band that despite making over 200 million in record sales, to this day remain one of the most anonymous of groups.