Pink Floyd has a long history with planetariums. EMI records launched The Dark Side of the Moon in March 1973 with a listening party at the London Planetarium, where the album was played in its 42-minute entirety as guests looked up to the stars and constellations.

The band members – said to be unhappy with the venue and its mediocre sound system – boycotted that event, but it proved to be a major success and heralded the launch of one of the top-selling albums of all time.

Fifty years on, and the band has given its blessing to a revised 360-degree show which is playing out at planetariums all around the world to commemorate the half-century anniversary, with a high-tech visual production that is light years ahead of what was possible in the early ’70s.

Playing at North Terrace’s Freemasons Hall as part of Adelaide Fringe, The Dark Side of the Moon – Full Dome Experience gives ticket-holders special beanbags on which to lie back and enjoy the view of the screen around and above them.

As audience members take their seats and make themselves comfortable, one usher is brusque in his directions on where and how to sit (or rather, where not to sit), and this somewhat spoils the initial wonder of entering this unique venue. The show begins with the opening track “Speak to Me” and continues chronologically through the album, while the dome screen takes the audience into outer space, and beyond.

There is no obvious storyline, but the visuals correspond with the themes and energy of each song, creating a journey from the lunar landing to the Big Bang, the emergence of cellular life and modern space exploration. Clever transitions carry each section to the next.

Some sequences are very effective. Soaring through the asteroids of Jupiter’s belt at high speed as David Gilmour’s blistering guitar solo hits its wailing crescendo in “Time” is a particular highlight. Shooting through a wormhole in space to the melancholy tune of “On the Run” is very cool, as is the moment when an astronaut is engulfed by a giant dust cloud on the surface of Mars.

These moments elicit an almost psychedelic feeling of hypnosis, but they are unfortunately a bit too few and far between.

As the show plays out, it becomes obvious that the beanbags aren’t arranged in proper alignment with the light display, which has a perspective that is off-axis to the seating. Most viewers might not be bothered by this, but it does detract from the experience and hopefully can be rectified for other sessions.

The animations are representative of the era in which Dark Side of the Moon was originally released – on the heels of the lunar landing and at the peak of human fascination with space – and although it feels like the dome experience doesn’t quite reach its full potential, Pink Floyd fans should still thoroughly enjoy it. The sound system is great (and loud) and will inevitably bring back memories for those who first listened to the album in 1973.

If you want a hypnotic experience that will take you beyond the cosmos, this is a lot of fun for its $20 ticket price.

The Dark Side of the Moon: Full Dome Experience is showing until March 17 in the Great Hall at the Freemasons as part of the Electric Dreams program. 

Read more 2024 Adelaide Fringe coverage here on InReview.

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