It’s a great exhibition; the only problem is that it is housed in the Cité de la Musique, a horrible concrete-and-graffiti wasteland. Nevertheless, the experience starts in the foyer before you even enter the exhibition.
Looming above the door is the huge inflatable man, now seriously tatty, from the Animals tour, while opposite are the huge stone heads from The Division Bell. And there’s an igloo-like tent where you can get an earful of the 5:1 mix of DSoTM.
There’s no full-blown programme; simply a fold-out glossy paper that reproduces all the texts that you read as you progess through the various rooms. (Naturally, everything is in French.) The exhibition is arranged chronologically, with, as a general rule, one room per album. The first one, therefore, is devoted to Piper. Exhibits here include pages from Syd’s notebook, a copy of his mirrored telecaster, and the slide projector used to create those psychedelic blob shows. A film is projected onto the wall, showing, amongst other things, a very early Gilmour-era performance of ‘Let There Be More Light’ and the ‘Arnold Layne’ film.
Then we move on to Saucerful. My favourite exhibit here is Rick’s Farfisa organ as featured on the Pompeii film and now, alas, starting to fall to pieces. Also on display here is the Azimuth Co-ordinator.
The Ummagumma room has a film of a remarkable performace of ‘Axe’, with Mason really going for it. (Sorry, I’m not enough of a collector to know whether these films are already in circulation or are specific to the expo; I’m sure others will be able to fill in these details.)
Atom Heart Mother
The Atom Heart Mother room has a big plastic cow and “Alan’s” kitchen utensils hung from the ceiling, while the Meddle room feature’s one of Rick’s old Hammonds, seriously battered, and with a flight sticker from JFK airport still attached. (Nice touch, that.)
The DSoTM room has a circular screen on which you can watch the original Mr Screen films that accompanied the album. Arranged around it is a selection of the instruments used in the making of the record, notably the Synthi A used to make ‘On the Run’. Then on to ‘Wish You Were Here’, with a selection of pages from Roger’s notebooks, containing the lyrics for ‘Have a Cigar’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’.
Dark Side/ WYWH
The Animals room features a remarkable film shot on the day the album cover was made: Roger and Dave standing around drinking tea while the pig is hoisted into place.
The Wall room features bits of the various puppets, plus the black shirts and ‘Number 1’ t-shirt worn by Roger and the band during the performances. Not to mention a collection of instruments used during the making of the album, and a gigantic quad mixing desk.
Whoever designed this expo obviously has the same opinion of The Final Cut as Dave does: it gets only a tiny little display showing a model of a WWII British soldier and the videos made to accompany the album 🙂 The final room is devoted to the post Roger Floyd: in its centre an old iron bed on which you can sit to watch extracts from Pulse on another circular screen. At the other end of the room is a pile of amps and guitars used during the Division Bell tour.
Lapse/ Div Bell
So that’s it. Not a huge expo, but there is a ton of stuff to see, much which I haven’t mentioned. (Snapshots from Nick’s collection, contracts, copyright certificates, backstage passes, studio track sheets…) If you have the opportunity to make the trip to Paris, do so. But you’ll probably need more than one visit to get the best from it. Plan for a weekend and visits on Saturday and Sunday.
There’s ton of stuff on sale in the shop. Specific to the expo: a nice poster, two different designs of t-shirt, some scarves and even an umbrella. I picked up a copy of the ‘making of DSotM’ DVD, and watched it later that afternoon; it was interesting to see some of the instruments again that I’d just seen ‘in the flesh’ a few hours earlier. (But, my God, doesn’t Roger talk some rambling, unstructured crap on this thing!)
Review with thanks to firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictures with thanks to Edison Vaz Melonio