David Gilmour Royal Albert Hall London 3rd October 2015

David Gilmour Royal Albert Hall 3rd October 2015
image“Flicker, flicker, flicker blam. Pow, pow.
Stairway scare, Dan Dare, who’s there?
Lime and limpid green, the sounds around
The icy waters under
Lime and limpid green, the sounds around
The icy waters underground.”
(Astronomy Domine, Barrett & Wright, 1967)
It’s a lovely bright Sunday morning and I’m sitting on a Grand Central train which is weaving its way back home up North. I am also reflecting on last night’s concert by David Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall. Nine years have past since Gilmour’s last album “On an Island”, and since I last saw him in concert at the same venue. Well we are all almost a decade older, maybe a little wiser, and much has changed. Some things, however, do remain comfortably and reassuringly constant, one of those being the unique crying, sustained tone and crisp guitar voice of David Gilmour. Gilmour has released a new album “Rattle that Lock” which has been well received and has also done well in terms of sales, reaching No 1 in the UK and many other countries. He has also now (just) completed a short European tour to promote the album, including five nights at the Albert Hall, and a warm-up show in Brighton. Last night was the final night of the tour; he will visit the USA in 2016.
imageThe concert was in two parts, with a healthy selection of new and old tracks sprinkled throughout. After going through the ticket collection process courtesy of legendary promoter Harvey Goldsmith (no tickets were sent out in advance, and I had to show my credit card and photo-ID in order to collect my ticket), I made my way up to my cheap (well sort of, all things are relative) vantage point in the gallery (bad decision on my part by the way, I am too old to stand all night and I am very stiff this morning). The show started with “5 AM”, an instrumental and the opening track on the new album. Gilmour stood alone, lit by a single spot, the crisp, clear sound of his Fender guitar cutting through the night; filling the hall. In that moment we all knew why we had come. It took that single note, in that unique style, to cut through the years and take us back to halcyon days. His soaring tone blends blues, psych, sci-fi and surf guitar styles; I could hear the influences: Hank Marvin, Jimi Hendrix, B B King. This was followed by the title track of the new album. The fourth song, which was of course welcomed by a massive cheer, was “Wish You Were Here”. The sound was clear, loud but not too much so, and the 1975 classic never sounded better, nor more appropriate. These songs have become a tribute to a legendary band, to Syd Barrett whose vision made it possible, and now sadly to Gilmour’s friend and fellow Floyd comrade Rick Wright, who played with him at those Albert Hall concerts nine years. Other highlights for me in the first half of the concert were the “Dark Side of the Moon” favourites “Money” and “Us and Them”. The last song before the interval was “High Hopes”, the closing track from “The Division Bell”.
imageThe second part of the concert took us back to the very start. “Astronomy Domine” is the first track on “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, Pink Floyd’s first album, recorded before Gilmour joined the band. Today it is played as a fitting tribute to Syd and Rick (who co-wrote the song) and to days of innocent English psych, of early space-rock. The hall was bathed in colour, the giant (and familiar and Floyd-like) circular screen behind the band displaying a full-on ’60s psychedelic liquid light show. The strange chord sequence built to its screaming discordant climax. Fantastic; and for me, it was worth the ticket price for that song alone, as it was something that I thought I would never see performed live. This was followed by what has become my favourite Pink Floyd song, “Shine on you Crazy Diamond”. Searing, souring guitar, that familiar riff, a song of Syd and bitter-sweet sadness, and great visuals. The rest of the set was a mix of new and Floyd songs, including “Fat Old Sun” from “Atom Heart Mother”, “Sorrow” from “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” and closing song “Run Like Hell” from “The Wall”. I am not too familiar with “Sorrow”, to be honest, but last night it stood out for me, with some particularly fine, cavernous, deep, and heavy guitar work by Gilmour, which thundered and reverberated around us.
imageFor an encore a clang of coins greeted us, tills jangled and we were, to our great delight, taken back to “Dark Side of the Moon” and “Money”. During the extended closing song “Comfortably Numb” the light show moved up a notch, and the hall became a criss-crossed matrix of green, misty, then bright, stark red, laser light. Gilmour stood in front of us, his lone figure picked out by two spots, as if he were standing above the clouds of laser light, his guitar solo meandering and taking us to the end of a tremendous show.
Well. It was a show you truly couldn’t fault. The selection of songs, the sound, the band, Gilmour’s guitar, the vocals, the lights; simply perfect perfection. Only two things would better it for me. First (and this is probably never going to happen), I would just die to see him play “See Emily Play” as a tribute to Barrett. Oh, and finally, a seat. I am never going to scrimp on the ticket price again, and stand in that gallery. I am sure I will be stiff for days. Not good for an old guy. I remember my dad having terrible back problems (think they called it lumbago back then) and I fear that I may be inheriting it.
Walking out of the venue I heard a father telling his grown up son (who was probably in his 30s) of the 1975 Knebworth Floyd concert and of the (model) plane crashing into the stage at the end of “On the Run”. Happy happy days. I really do feel like I am getting old.
Set 1: 5 AM (new), Rattle that Lock (new), Faces of Stone (new), Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd), A Boat Lies Waiting (new), The Blue (On an Island), Money (Pink Floyd), Us and Them (Pink Floyd), In Any Tongue (new), High Hopes (Pink Floyd)
Set 2: Astronomy Domine (Pink Floyd), Shine on you Crazy Diamond Parts I-V (Pink Floyd), Fat Old Sun (Pink Floyd), On an Island, The Girl in the Yellow Dress (new), Today (new), Sorrow (Pink Floyd), Run Like Hell (Pink Floyd)
Encore: Time (Pink Floyd), Breathe (Reprise) (Pink Floyd), Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd)
Tour band: David Gilmour (guitars, vocals), Phil Manzanera (guitars), Guy Pratt (bass guitar), Jon Carin (keyboards, guitars), Kevin McAlea (keyboards), Steve DiStanislao (drums, percussion), João Mello (saxophones), Bryan Chambers, Louise Clare Marshall (backing vocals)

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Sounds like an amazing show. I am lime and limpid green with envy!

    Reply

  2. Dave G on fine form on the Friday although much preferred the old stuff. Just the odd seat empty. Staff very strict on ID with passport and ticket receipt examined. Well and truly up to speed with Roger Waters new Wall film offering 29th September , Dave G at Albert Hall 2nd Oct and Think Floyd at Durham Gala 5 Oct. Shame Rattle that Lock T shirts a bit naff. sb Durham.

    Reply

  3. Tip about the seating well and truly noted!

    Reply

  4. Posted by John Johnstone on August 17, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Great review. I last saw DG on the first night of his three RAH gigs in 2006 and never thought that he would tour again. I was lucky enough to be four rows from the front, right in front of Rick Wright, and it was like having Pink Floyd in my living room, awesome. I was visiting my son overseas when DG played the RAH in 2015 and was so upset to miss him. However, I managed to get tickets for his last show ar the RAH next month, so am really looking forward to this, especially after having my appetite whetted by the review above … Cheers

    Reply

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