Pink Floyd Exhibition Debuts in Montreal

The Pink Floyd “Their Mortal Remains” exhibition opened in Montreal on Nov. 4 at Arsenal Contemporary Art. The exhibit includes hundreds of artifacts from the legendary rock band’s lengthy history, covering Pink Floyd’s legacy from their 1967 debut The Piper at the Gates of Dawn to 2014’s The Endless River.

Previously, “Their Mortal Remains” has enjoyed stays in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the United States - attracting over 500,000 thousand people since its 2017 debut. Visitors can expect displays dedicated to each era of Pink Floyd’s history, separated album by album, as the band moved from the underground London music scene to developing the massive rock operas they’re famous for, such as The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. Among so much more, the exhibit is laced with colourful music posters, original equipment and instruments used by the band, and various on-stage costumes that appeared throughout their career. A fan favourite artifact displayed was the school teacher’s cane used to beat frontman Roger Waters in his youth, which inspired the famous line “Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!”

The exhibit didn’t only bring paraphernalia to Montreal, however. Pink Floyd founding drummer Nick Mason answered questions to the media at a press release, alongside Creative Director and co-curator Aubrey Powell (who helped design the famous album cover for The Dark Side of the Moon, among many others), and Executive Producer Michael Cohl. Here, Mason elaborated on Pink Floyd’s remarkable history with the city of Montreal.

On July 6, 1977, Pink Floyd played the first ever concert held at the Olympic Stadium, whose construction was unfinished at the time. A record 80,000 spectators watched the legendary rock act play some of their most iconic songs on their In the Flesh tour. Yet, while many audience members were undoubtedly inspired that night as Floyd jammed away, Waters was the one with the biggest lightbulb over his head as he spat into the face of an audience member in some sort of meltdown.

While one may be inclined to think that the incident was sparked out of some kind of dislike Waters had for Montreal specifically, his angst had been building up over the course of the tour. The singer had become dissatisfied with the growing separation between his band’s fanbase as they transitioned from playing more intimate club gigs to full-on sports stadiums. With these arena tours came the ruckus of rowdy talkative fans, unattentive concert-goers, and general troublemakers, who had been throwing firecrackers on-stage at the infamous Montreal gig, which closed the In the Flesh tour. This was clearly the last straw for Waters, as he swore into the microphone halfway through their set before spitting on a fan who had apparently thrown one of the firecrackers.

Waters’ disenfranchisement with the band’s fanbase inspired the whole concept for Pink Floyd’s massively successful The Wall - packaged with a tour and animated film. Without getting too much into the motif of the record, the wall referred to here serves as a metaphor for the growing divide between Pink Floyd and their fanbase. On the tour for this album, the band would set up a massive wall stage prop that was slowly built up throughout the concert and eventually blown open in the culmination of concerts on that tour.

Given the importance Montreal had to their career, it was only fitting that Pink Floyd brought “Their Mortal Remains” to the city. The exhibition runs until December 31, 2022 at Arsenal Contemporary Art.