Thursday, February 8, 2018

‘The Man and the Journey’ Pink Floyd

'The Man and the Journey’ Pink Floyd
by Pete Clemons

‘The Man and the Journey’ was a suite of music performed by Pink Floyd during their 1969 tour. It was first performed at the Royal Festival Hall under the working title of ‘The Massed Gadgets of Auximines – More Furious Madness from Pink Floyd’. More locally it was definitely performed at Birmingham Town Hall during June and, quite possibly, it was also played in Coventry at The Locarno a month earlier.

Essentially the idea for The Man and the Journey was to segue familiar and not so familiar Pink Floyd tunes into one cohesive piece creating a storyline loosely based around the average twenty four hour day of an average person and the average life of an average person. Apart from the music, the concert’s, were a two set visual concept. On stage construction scenes and afternoon tea were portrayed. Whether it worked or not has been the subject of great debate amongst the various Pink Floyd forums for years.

The suite itself consisted of several early songs included Afternoon (Biding My Time), The Beginning (Green Is the Colour), Nightmare (Cymbaline), Beset by Creatures of The Deep and The End of the Beginning (the last part of A Saucerful of Secrets).

I also believe, at one time ‘The Man and the Journey’ was considered for full release but those plans were shelved. However the music from the suite would end up on future albums like ‘More’ and ‘Ummagumma’. Other tunes like ‘Biding My Time’ would also appear on a compilation album called ‘Relics’. It does seem as if Pink Floyd had many ideas, in those early days, but never really knew the best fit for them. For example a piano sequence that was first heard during the late 1960s studio sessions would eventually appear on Dark side of the Moon.

A Man and the Journey concert performed by Pink Floyd on 17 September 1969 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam was bootlegged and for more than forty years this poorly audience recorded gig remained as the only aural evidence that the concerts ever existed. However, all that has recently changed. Firstly a cleaned up version of that Amsterdam gig was included as part of the huge Pink Floyd - The Early Years 1965-1972 box set released during November 2016.

But more surprisingly, however, is that a German rock band has also recreated, performed and released a recording of the entire concept. And having heard it I must admit to being totally blown away with it. It’s as if new life has been given to this piece of work. It sounded so fresh and invigorated.

The band that took on this most unlikely of challenges is called RPWL. The band’s name apparently derives from the first letter of each of its member surnames. Rissettio, Postl, Wallner and Lang. Relatively unknown to me, RPWL, from Freising, began life as a Pink Floyd covers band, so maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised. But it is important to stress that RPWL also create original work.

As far as I can tell the RPWL concert was a one off performed at De Cacaofabriek in Helmond, Netherlands. But the gig is available as a CD and DVD. I have been listening heavily to the CD and it is artistically beautiful. It contains some breathtaking playing and virtuoso improvisation. If you do investigate this release then be prepared to be taken on an atmospheric and dynamic journey.

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