This past January I was fortunate enough to spend several weeks in Campania, Italy, exploring the Amalfi Coast and the historic city of Naples. It was a wonderful trip for many reasons, and one of the highlights was the day I was able to spend at the ruins of Pompeii.
Of course, Pompeii is an absolute must-visit for anyone interested in Ancient Roman history (as is nearby Herculaneum, another city buried in the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius and actually better preserved). However, I had a secondary reason I could not wait to see Pompeii. As a fan of Pink Floyd for just about 30 years, I simply had to see the amphitheatre where they filmed their classic 1972 release Live at Pompeii.
Directed by Adrian Maben, Live at Pompeii features footage of the band performing without an audience in the quiet, desolate surroundings of the ancient Roman amphitheatre. The footage at Pompeii was filmed over the course of four days in October 1971, where the band faced numerous challenges including just getting enough power for their equipment from the nearby modern town of Pompei. The original release of the film also features footage of the band in a Paris television studio in from 1971 and interviews/recording studio sessions at Abbey Road Studios in 1972, while working on the legendary album Dark Side of the Moon.
I had an old VHS copy of Live at Pompeii which I just about played to death during my high school and college years; I love all eras of Pink Floyd music but has a special fondness for the spacey, improvisation-heavy and original live performances of their 1970-72 years. Images of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius from the film have been burned into my memory banks for decades, although nothing could compare to actually being there and seeing the city for myself. We were fortunate, too, to be there on a January afternoon where there were very few other tourists around. The crowds especially thinned out as we took the long walk down Via dell’Abbondanza away for the main attractions toward the amphitheatre, located at the far end of the archeological site. The city ruins start to give way to ancient trees and quiet gardens, and then the unmistakable exterior of the amphitheatre came into view.
I’m not exaggerating to say I started to feel the hairs on my neck standing on end.
We entered the amphitheatre and, for the first few minutes, we were the only ones there. Not much has changed at the site since Pink Floyd performed there in 1971—a year before I was even born! The stands are a little more green and overgrown, perhaps as it was the wet and rainy season. Our voices echoed around the oval-shaped structure and one could imagine how incredible it must have sounded, to hear the Floyd performing “Echoes” of their own in this acoustical environment.
Slowly a few other tourists made their way to the site after we’d been there for a while; we stayed to get a few more photos before exiting and finishing our explorations of Pompeii. Once back home, I had to rewatch Live at Pompeii, although it was the “Director’s Cut” version released on DVD in 2003, not my old original VHS—which I still find I prefer. I’m not crazy about the addition of the space-exploration footage and digital recreations of Pompeii and Herculaneum, although at the same time they had more meaning and impact on me now after visiting the cities for myself.
If you are a Pink Floyd fan and ever get the chance, you really need to visit Pompeii for yourself, and try to “remember a day” when one of the greatest rock bands of all time (in my humble opinion) brought their music to one of the most incredible venues on Earth.
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sockii is just your typical Jane-of-All-Trades who never has enough time in her day for all of her projects. She has written for many websites online including Squidoo, Zujava, Yahoo! Contributors Network, HubPages and Wizzley. She has been attending and vending at science fiction and media conventions for over 15 years, and for several years ran an art gallery and jewelry store in Philadelphia. Today she is happy to be living in South Jersey with her partner David and their 6 cats. Sockii is a member of several affiliate sales programs including Amazon Associates and Viglink. Products from these services may be advertised on her posts and pages to generate sales commissions.
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