Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii / by Anthony Gibbins

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun. In October 1971 the Pompeii amphitheatre played host to an unusual event. The English psychedelic rock band, Pink Floyd, performed live for a camera crew and the handful of children who snuck in past the guards. Ryan McNaught, the creator of the Nicholson model, has - mirabile dictu - included the concert in his depiction of the arena. In a plot hole you could drive a tour-bus through, Claudia is there to watch the performance.

The story goes that the film’s director, Adrian Maben, was a Pink Floyd fan keen to splice the band’s live performance with shots of famous art works. When this idea was rejected by the band’s manager, Steve O’Rourke, Maben took himself to Naples for a summer holiday. He misplaced his passport in Pompeii, and it was while returning to the amphitheatre to seek it out that he was struck by the venue’s beauty and acoustic quality. He contacted the local University of Naples and they arranged to have the venue closed for six days of filming. A cable had to be run all the way from the Town Hall to power the equipment.

This was a few years before the release of Dark Side of the Moon, although in our story Claudia is treated to a song or two from that album – or at least upon that subject. Instead the band played Echoes, A Saucerful of Secrets and Careful with that Axe, Eugene (among others).  Maben’s original idea, of splicing the concert with artworks, returned. Shots were taken at the neighbouring Naples National Archaeological Museum of sculpture and mosaics. Interspersed is foreboding footage of flowing lava.

In 2016 Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour returned to the Pompeiian amphitheatre for a 45 years on repeat performance. This time thousands of fans were in attendance. I can only imagine the feeling of being part of the crowd that packed this two thousand year old arena to relive a concert that happened nearly half a century ago. After the event David Gilmour was made an honorary citizen of Pompeii. macte!

Today, however, the musical bank, Pink Floyd, was giving as concert in the arena. I listened to some songs about the Dark Side of the Moon.

The Lego model of Pompeii is housed in the Nicholson Museum of The University of Sydney, Australia. Entry to the museum is entirely free, and you may visit Monday to Friday between 10:00 and 4:30. The Nicholson is Australia’s oldest University museum and contains the largest collection of antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere. 

The Pompeii model was commissioned by the Nicholson and constructed by LEGO Professional Builder Ryan McNaught. It is the third such model the museum has exhibited, following the Colosseum and Acropolis.  The Colosseum was returned to McNaught and recently exhibited around Australia. The Acropolis was denoted by the Nicholson to the Acropolis Museum in Athens. The Pompeii model is estimated to include 190 000 bricks and took 420 hours to complete.