Pink Floyd Performs On Floating Stage In Venice On This Date In 1989

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Pink Floyd has played in some historic locales over the years. Perhaps the most famous was their 1971 performance at the Roman amphitheater in the ruins of Pompeii, later released as the 1972 concert film Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii. While a rock band playing at such an historically important place wasn’t without controversy, it was nothing compared to when Pink Floyd’s Italian promoter, Francesco Tomasi, put forth the idea of the legendary rockers performing in Venice in 1989.

Just about everywhere in Venice has some kind of historical significance. Additionally, Venice’s precarious placement on a lagoon makes the city’s landmarks particularly fragile. Floyd — who were on their Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour — was initially supposed to perform in Venice’s Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square, but that idea was quickly scrapped when critics of the concert cited that the vibrations could crumble the ancient architecture.

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Pink Floyd — who at the time consisted of guitarist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason and keyboardist Richard Wright (bassist Roger Waters left the band a few years earlier) — were not callous to the ancient city’s unique predicament and agreed to turn down from 100 to 60 decibels and perform from a floating stage in the lagoon rather than on terra firma in Venice.

Although some still protested, the 90-minute concert for an audience of around 200,000 went ahead with the band offering up Part 1 of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” before filling the first half of the show with material from Lapse Of Reason like “Learning To Fly,” “The Dogs Of War,” “On The Turning Away” and more. The last half of the concert included Floyd classics including “Time,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Money” and “Comfortably Numb” among others. Floyd would close the show with “Run Like Hell.”

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When it was all said and done Venice had not crumbled into the sea and the historic city was no worse for wear save for some messy revelers. What did crumble, however, was the city’s local government, with the mayor, Antonio Casellati, resigning followed by the rest of the city council stepping down amidst complaints that they gave in to commercial pressure to put on the concert at the expense of Venice. While there was no way Pink Floyd could have foreseen the shakeup, it did show how powerful the band had become in putting political forces in motion.

Today marks the 31st anniversary of Pink Floyd’s floating concert in Venice. Watch the entire performance below via Austech:

[Hat Tip – Ultimate Classic Rock and The Architect’s Neswpaper]

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Setlist

Pink Floyd at Piazza San Marco

  • Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)  
  • Learning to Fly
  • Yet Another Movie
  • Round and Around
  • Sorrow
  • The Dogs of War
  • On the Turning Away
  • Time
  • The Great Gig in the Sky
  • Wish You Were Here
  • Money
  • Another Brick in the Wall Part 2
  • Comfortably Numb
  • Run Like Hell
  •  

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