This historic performance was filmed 50 years ago in the ancient Roman amphitheater of Pompeii, Italy. Built around 70 BC it’s hard to imagine one of today’s venues surviving well over 2,000 years (or indeed what kind of performances might take place in the fifth millennium!) Regardless, this timeless rendition of “Echoes” still sounds powerful today.
Performed in front of an audience of absolutely nobody (aside from crew), the bulk of the Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii concert footage was shot in October 1971. Released the same month, side two of Pink Floyd’s sixth studio album, Meddle¸ comprises solely of “Echoes” in its hypnotic twenty-three-and-a-half minutes entirety.
In addition to the Roman amphitheater’s naturally reverberant acoustics echoes were produced using Italian-made Binson Echorec 2 units. (As they say: When in Rome, do as the Romans do!)
A favorite of Pink Floyd since the Syd Barrett era, Echorecs utilize a revolving magnetic drum rather than tape to produce delay effects.
Listen out for David Gilmour’s brilliant electric guitar solo that kicks in around 4:27. Here he makes great use of a Fuzz Face fitted with silicon BC108 transistors. These fuzzes produce a characteristically smooth yet gritty distortion sound.
Though Gilmour previously enjoyed using a Fuzz Face fitted with the original-style germanium NKT275 transistors he switched to silicon in 1971. With more high-end gain silicon fuzzes tend to bite through a band mix more easily, hence germanium fuzzes are often described as ‘warmer’ sounding.
During the solo, Gilmour’s famous late ‘60s Fender Stratocaster known as the ‘Black Strat’ is clearly visible, albeit in a more original form. Over the years, Gilmour continuously modified this guitar.
While the instrument retained a black (over Sunburst) finish the neck was changed on several occasions, the body was routed for a Kahler vibrato and XLR output, and the original pickups were replaced.
Originally released in 1972, Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii has seen numerous rereleases over the years. In 2017, David Gilmour released his Live at Pompeii album and film having revisited the location to perform the previous year – this time with an audience present.
Click here to buy Pink Floyd – Live at Pompeii (Director's Cut).
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Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.