WOUB-HD to Broadcast ‘David Gilmour: Live at Pompeii’ December 3 @ 3:30 pm< < Back to
In October of 1971 filmmaker Adrian Maben secured the Roman amphitheater for the six-day shoot of Pink Floyd’s groundbreaking concert film, Live at Pompeii. The undeniably impressive performance includes cuts from some of the band’s earliest works, and was recorded with no one in the audience except the crew charged with making the film happen.
Some 45 years later, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour would return to the amphitheater to record David Gilmour: Live at Pompeii, culled from two of his 2016 performances in support of his 2015 album Rattle That Lock. Sunday, December 3 at 3:30 p.m., WOUB-HD will broadcast Gilmour’s return to the legendary performance space.
It’s worth mentioning that at least a portion of the idea behind the unconventional concert in the Roman amphitheater came directly from Pink Floyd’s support of public television, some 47 years ago, when they performed for an hour on San Francisco PBS affiliate KQED.
The original film, upon release, did not perform well.
In 1972, few people in the U.S. knew who Pink Floyd was. The band had experienced as much drama as many groups do cumulatively throughout their entire career in just the seven years previous: a tumultuous time that prominently featured the rise and fall of beloved psychonaut Syd Barrett.
That changed in 1973 with the monumental release of Dark Side of the Moon.
Although the album would be number one on the U.S. Billboard charts for only a week, it would go on to be on Billboard’s top LPs and tapes chart for a stunning 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. The work is also universally critically lauded, commonly considered one of the greatest albums of all time.
“By 1970, Pink Floyd was already charting and selling records in the U.K., but in the U.S., if you knew about them at all, you just knew Ummagumma, and you probably only knew it through underground radio stations or through your older brother or sister in college,” said Michael Tedesco, an IT specialist for the dean’s office at Ohio University, as well as a graduate from the Ohio University Scripps College of Communication, DJ for WOUB’s Radio Free Athens, and lifelong Pink Floyd enthusiast. “By the time the band got to the U.S., Syd Barrett was just a rumor, and the band had started to build a cult following here, closely tied to the hippie drug culture. What that culture didn’t understand about the band was that they were a group of architecture students interested in doing these experimental, sidelong pieces with orchestras and chorus – not the kind of thing one should hear while they’re tripping on LSD in an arena.”
The band’s live performances throughout the ‘70s would grow in notoriety, featuring dazzling feats of sonic magic that occasionally were hallucinogenic in quality.
“Pre-internet, if you got to see a band live, that was the only time you were going to be able to see them at all. They might be featured in a magazine, but that would be the only other way you’d hear about them. Back then, we didn’t have the same celebrity culture – and Pink Floyd didn’t even put their pictures on their own albums,” said Tedesco. “The band could actually walk through their own audiences and not be recognized at all. We were all just waiting for news from England.”
“By the time the band got to the U.S., Syd Barrett was just a rumor, and the band had started to build a cult following here, closely tied to the hippie drug culture. What that culture didn’t know about the band, however, was that they were a group of architecture students interested in doing these experimental, sidelong pieces with orchestras and chorus – not the kind of thing one should hear while they’re tripping on LSD in an arena.” – Michael Tedesco, professional DJ, musician, and Pink Floyd expert
Bryan Gibson, the host of WOUB’s Crossing Boundaries, as well as the FM Music Director at WOUB, came to Live at Pompeii (and to Pink Floyd in general,) entirely differently than Tedesco did.
“I’m in a second generation of Pink Floyd fans – the guys in the band are about my parent’s age. I didn’t hear of the band until I was in elementary school and “Another Brick in the Wall” came out, which was a single that probably every kid in my class bought. I didn’t have any older siblings, and they didn’t really play any Pink Floyd on the radio – other than that song. I didn’t know anything about Pink Floyd, whether it was a person or a guy or whatever,” said Gibson. “A friend of mine let me record his LP of The Wall onto cassette, and I wore that out at age 13 or 14. At that point, I had never heard Dark Side of the Moon – one of the most popular albums of all time — just because no one in my circle of friends had a copy. I remember walking down to Schoolkids Records and buying a copy of it and then putting it on and being blown away by how different it sounded from The Wall. I was used to how The Wall sounded: very aggressive and depressing. But when you’re 14 and you’re angry and depressed, it’s perfect.”
Gibson said that alongside The Wall, he and his group of friends started to rent Live at Pompeii from Athens’ fabled Magic Video as they made their way through high school.
“As a teenager who was just trying to learn how to play drums back then, I loved all the bird’s eye views of the drummer, Nick Mason. I found out later that all the concentration on him at times throughout the film really had more to do with the fact that the other cameras were malfunctioning, and that was the way they salvaged the performance – but at the time I thought it was deliberate, and I loved it,” said Gibson. “That movie was very important to my friends and I back then, before the days of YouTube.”
Gibson said he is grateful for the way that Pink Floyd slowly made their way into his understanding of popular music.
“I will never forget what it was like to hear Dark Side of the Moon for the first time, I’m glad that nothing spoiled it for me,” said Gibson. “Before Pink Floyd, the only band that I had had a very intimate relationship with was The Beatles – and even though I don’t like Pink Floyd as much as I like the Beatles, I will say that they are on the same level.”
Tedesco agreed, stating that when he first heard Dark Side of the Moon, he felt it was the best record since The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
“Before Pink Floyd, the only band that I had had a very intimate relationship with was The Beatles – and even though I don’t like Pink Floyd as much as I like the Beatles, I will say that they are on the same level.” – Bryan Gibson, WOUB’s FM Music Director, host of Crossing Boundaries
“Andre Gribou (of the Ohio University College of Fine Arts) always says that the one thing that is inarguable about The Beatles, whether you like them or not, is that they were at once the most popular band in the world, and the most experimental,” said Tedesco. “That’s something that can’t be duplicated, but Pink Floyd sure got close.”