David Gilmour Royal Albert Hall 3rd October 2015
“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.
The 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”.
The 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.
For 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)
Archive for the ‘David Gilmour’ Category
David Gilmour Royal Albert Hall 3rd October 2015
Live Aid Wembley Stadium 13th July 1985
I went with a couple of mates. We missed out on tickets when they went on sale and the only way we could get there was to buy tickets for a coach trip from Middlesbrough. So we were up at 4am, drove to Middlesbrough and joined a coach which left at 5am for London. We arrived well before noon, had a couple of drinks and entered the stadium, which was of course completely packed so we found a spot in the stands right at the back. A few minutes later Status Quo took to the stage with “Rockin’ All Over The World” and the day started. This was Quo reunited one year after the split, with Alan flying over from Oz to join Francis and Rick. Their short set also featured Caroline” and “Don’t Waste My Time”. A fitting start to the day. I have so many great memories of that day.
Queen’s performance is, of course, often rated as the greatest live performance by any band. Freddie certainly commanded the crowd the day and it propelled them to super stardom. Their well planned set was a medley with short sections of their anthems: “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Radio Ga Ga”, “Hammer To Fall”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions”. They had apparently been rehearsing their short set for days, to ensure perfection, and it showed, and worked. U2 weren’t far behind them, though, in terms of performance, with Bono showing how great a front man he was. U2 played two songs: “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and a lengthy version of “Bad” during which Bono dragged a girl from the rush down front to dance with him on stage, and which also included snippets from Lou Reed’s “Satellite of love” and “Walk On The Wild Side”, and The Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” and “Sympathy for the Devil”. Electric.
For me, however. the highlights were The Who and David Bowie, as I was, and remain, a big fan of both acts. Bowie started with “TVC15” (a strange and poor choice I felt, and remember being disappointed on the day), “Rebel Rebel” (great, good choice), “Modern Love” (well, ok) and then “Heroes” (we all sag along and it was pure magic). I still feel that with a better choice of songs Bowie could have eclipsed Queen and U2.
The Who performed “My Generation”, “Pinball Wizard”, “Love Reign O’er Me” (another strange song choice given the magnitude of the event) and a blistering “Won’t Get Fooled Again” with much mike swinging by Daltrey and lots of arm twirling by Townshend.
Other memories: Elton and Kiki sang “Don’t go Breaking my Heart” (great!). Paul McCartney suffered from sound problems and we couldn’t hear him at all for much of “Let It Be” although I gather it was fine on TV. Geldof drew massive cheers every time he set foot on stage, and he deserved every one of them. The scheduling worked amazingly, with very few hitches. Seeing the cameras pick out Charles and Diana over in their enclosure. The amazingly camp Bowie and Jagger video. The awful, sad and moving video of starving children played to the Cars’ “Drive”. Phil Collins playing Wembley and JFK courtesy of Concorde (show off).
But the truly unforgettable moment came at the end, and will stay in my mind for ever. That was the finale, with the entire stadium singing along to “Do They Know It’s Christmas ?” with Bob Geldof leading us, and everyone else on stage. I’ve never seen, felt, or heard anything like it before or since. We walked out of that stadium to the coach park, all of us still singing…..”Feed The World”…..
Then it was a long coach ride back to Middlesbrough. We arrived back around 5 or 6am, then drove home. 24 hours with hardly any sleep, just an hour or so caught on the bus, but a day I will remember forever.
Line-up: Status Quo; The Style Council; The Boomtown Rats; Adam Ant; Ultravox; Spandau Ballet; Elvis Costello; Nik Kershaw; Sade; Sting; Phil Collins; Howard Jones; Bryan Ferry (with David Gilmour on guitar); Paul Young/Alison Moyet; U2; Dire Straits/Sting; Queen; Video “Dancing in the Streets” by David Bowie/Mick Jagger; David Bowie; The Who; Elton John (Kiki Dee and George Michael join Elton); Mercury and May; Paul McCartney; Finale
Hyde Park free concert August 31st 1974
Line-up: Roger McGuinn, Roy Harper and Friends, Julie Felix, Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers, Kokomo, Toots and The Maytals.
I’d just got back from the Reading festival, which was headlined by Traffic and Alex Harvey, a few days earlier, and quite fancied going to another open air event. My mate Will was up for going to this free Hyde Park concert on Saturday, so we decided to hitch down to London after going to the local Mecca ballroom on Friday night. Around midnight we hitched a lift to the A1 at Durham and started to make our way down south. It took us all night to get down to London, but we made it by early morning. We had some crazy lifts along the way, including one in the back of an army jeep driven by a couple of squaddies who took a dislike to us (we jumped out of the jeep at a service station and started to hitch again), and another with a guy who was totally spaced out of his brain (he told us he had been taking acid) and was speeding through the centre of some strange town (I think it may have been Nottingham) driving through red lights and singing at the top of his voice. Our last lift was from a kind old couple who gave us something to eat and took us into London. When we arrived we took the tube out to Wembley so that I could buy tickets for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young who were appearing at Wembley Stadium a couple of weeks later. We then went to Hyde Park for the concert, where we ran into a few other boys we knew from the town. I don’t remember much about the first few acts, but do remember being impressed by Julie Felix. Her set featured the excellent Ollie Halsall from Patto on guitar, and we all sang along to Going to the Zoo. There was much anticipation for Roy Harper’s set that day, and much speculation about exactly who might be guesting with him. Roy came on stage late on the afternoon and introduced his friends for the day: Dave Gilmour on guitar, John Paul Jones on bass, and Steve Broughton on drums. A recording of the epic Harper song The Game exists from the concert, with some great guitar work from Gilmour. My memory is a little hazy (it is almost 40 years….) and I don’t recall exactly what else was played, although I think Roy performed I Hate the White Man, but I do remember it being a great set. Roger McGuinn was headlining and played a set of classic Byrds songs. We left before the end of his set to get to the motorway before the rest of the crowds, and took the tube to Hendon to pick up the M1 junction and hitch back up north. Our journey back home took ages. We managed to get back to the A1(M) Bishop Auckland turn-off by Sunday afternoon and stood for hours without so much as a sniff of a lift. So we walked into Bishop Auckland to see if we could get a bus home. Sadly we’d missed the last bus and had hardly any money anyway so we decided to try to walk home. We popped into a pub somewhere near Spennymoor for a glass of water (as we didn’t have enough for a drink) only to find a group of guys from Sunderland in the back room. I have never been happier to see some familiar faces; they gave us a lift home at closing time! So we arrived back home some 48 hours after we set off, having had no sleep at all, and very hungry. The crazy things you do when you are young. Still I’m pleased I went to this event; it was good to see Roy. I have a copy of the recording of the Game from that day. Its pretty rough, but brings back some great memories when I play it. Happy days.
David Gilmour Royal Albert Hall London 2006
I went to this gig with David, having bought tickets at the last moment, just before they sold out. I was dithering about whether it was worth the trip to London to see David Gilmour, and by the time I decided I would take the plunge, the only tickets left were standing tickets right up in the gallery looking down on the stage. Security for the concert was such that no tickets were issued and we had to turn up at the Albert Hall with photo ID to obtain entrance to the concert. The tour was to support Gilmour’s new release On An Island, and much of the set was drawn from that album. The tour stopped at the Albert Hall for three nights, and further shows were added including Manchester Bridgewater Hall, which I would have preferred to attend. The set was a mix of tracks from the new album and a good selection of Pink Floyd classics. Gilmour’s band for the concerts was
old Floyd mate Rick Wright on Hammond organ, piano, and synthesizer; from Roxy Music: Phil Manzanera on guitar; Dick Parry on saxophones; Guy Pratt on bass; Jon Carin on synthesizer and Steve DiStanislao on drums. There were also a number of superb special guests including Crosby and Nash, Robert Wyatt, and for the encores the band was joined by Nick Mason on drums, making this in effect a Pink Floyd concert, or at least the same line-up as the last version of Floyd. The lightshow was subtle, but amazing; one of the best that I have ever seen. And I was delighted to see them play Arnold Layne, which I never imagined I would see performed live. It was also great to hear Shine on Your Crazy Diamond and my personal Floyd favourite Echoes, both of which were played true to the original. An amazing gig, and easily on par with some of the Floyd or Roger Waters performances I have attended. My only regret was that we didn’t go along on the first night, when Gilmour was joined by David Bowie for Arnold Layne. Now that would have been amazing to see. Setlist:
Speak to Me; Breathe; Time; Breathe (Reprise); Castellorizon; On An Island (with Crosby & Nash); The Blue (with Crosby & Nash; Red Sky At Night; This Heaven; Then I Close My Eyes (with Robert Wyatt); Smile; Take A Breath; A Pocketful Of Stones; Where We Start; Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V) (with Crosby & Nash); Fat Old Sun; Dominoes; Arnold Layne; Coming Back to Life; High Hopes; The Great Gig in the Sky (with Mica Paris); Echoes. Encore: Find the Cost of Freedom (with Crosby & Nash); Wish You Were Here (with Nick Mason); Comfortably Numb (with Nick Mason). A DVD of the concert, entitled Remember That Night, was released in 2007.