Wish You Were Here? You Will
By Robyn Frost
On Friday night my phone autocorrected ‘TOV’ to ‘TV’.
If this wasn’t a nudge to put down my pen and tune in to something other than SCA I don’t know what was.
I took the whole weekend off. And it was total bliss.
I say ‘off’ – I went and did stuff to feed my mind, like watching random films on Netflix, actually taking the time to bury my nose in a book, and going for (lots of) drinks with my friends.
Come Sunday I was nursing an alcohol-induced headache so bad I needed sunglasses to open the fridge – but I felt refreshed. It was also my birthday, and I decided to weave an exhibition visit into my day of celebrations.
I headed straight for the Pink Floyd show at the V&A. And oh my GOD was it utterly brilliant.
After seeing David ‘Don’t Call Me Dave’ Gilmour live at the Albert Hall last year, the question of whether I should go didn’t crop up.
Off I went.
Pre-booking meant snaking past all the non-ticket-holding people queueing politely to get in (bloody LOADS), so that was win number one.
I was whisked straight in and given a pair of Bluetooth headphones and a receiver, before being plunged into a psychedelic whirlwind that was the Floyd’s 50 year career.
Mapped chronologically, it’s an immersive audio-visual discovery of the band’s iconic album artwork, gigs and most-loved music – all powered by Sennheiser.
It’s interactive as much as it’s intriguing.
I was greeted by posters, projections and even booze labels as I made my way through the dimly lit spaces, with Floyd favourites in my ears, setting the pace.
The Sennheiser receiver picked up multimedia parts of the show as I went – so there could be 30 people in one part of the show, all listening to something different.
It was a bit like going to a good silent disco, but x1000.
While I was listening to Coming Back to Life and reading about the wild success of the 1994 album The Division Bell (my fave), someone just a few feet from me was actually decades away, listening to The Wall from ’79.
This lends itself to people who like to whizz through exhibitions (usually me), because you get lots of juicy info very quickly. Walk past a poster and the receiver picks up a snippet of an interview or track – enough to send you on your way into the next era with half a clue as to how they got there.
And if you’re a wanderer? You’ll get so caught up in the stories you’ll lose the people you went to the exhibition with (me this time).
Quite simply, and beautifully, you hear all their smash hits as you get to gaze at unseen props, letters and lyrics.
Highlights were hands down the trippy 3D render of The Dark Side of the Moon prism, Gilmour’s Fender Strat, the Pink vs Punk room, and the interactive room where you could mix your own version of ‘Money’.
Things get a bit nuts as you step further into the show – giant inflatables from their 70s work took centre stage (PSA: pigs do fly) – but looking at their later work, it wasn’t really surprising. The psychedelic attitude of the first room sort of set the rhythm for the rest of the show.
If you’re reading this thinking I sound like a TOTAL geek, hey – High Hopes was the soundtrack to my childhood.
Two hours in, I walked through a door which I assumed led me back into the museum.
Instead, I was asked to take my headphones off, before stepping into a room called the ‘Performance Zone’. Rubbish jargon-y name, but the payoff balanced things out.
It was the recreation of the Floyd’s last ever performance in Hyde Park at Live8 in 2005. It was a mind-blowing surround sound experience, chucking you right in the middle of the gig.
18 speakers blasted out ‘Comfortably Numb’, with footage plastered across four colossal screens.
Safe to say, I was left feeling comfortably numb and totally in awe.
Whether you’re a die-hard Floyd fan or a non-believer, it’s unmissable, moving and totally mind-blowing.
I’ve deliberately left out much of the detail about what’s in the exhibition, with the aim of not ruining it for anyone who’s planning to go.
Which should be everyone.
So, Apple – thanks for the autocorrect that got me swapping writing for records and filling my thoughts with art and words and rock and roll.
Was I tickled pink?