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 ‘Pink Floyd’ Category
David Gilmour Royal Albert Hall 3rd October 2015
Live 8 Hyde Park London 2nd July 2005
I was so excited about this event for three reasons: firstly because I’d been in Wembley Stadium for Live Aid, secondly to see The Who, and thirdly and most of all to see Pink Floyd again. We (me, Marie, David and Laura) all went, staying the weekend in London. I’d managed to get tickets for the Gold Circle which took us right down the front, next to the stage, so we had an excellent view of the entire day’s proceedings.
Bob Geldof opened the proceedings, followed by Paul McCartney with U2 performing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (It was 20 years ago today! Wonderful). Then U2 performed “Beautiful Day” (with a verse of the Beatles’ “Blackbird”), “Vertigo”, “One” (including a segment from “Unchained Melody”). Coldplay were next up and played “In My Place” with a section from “Rockin’ All Over the World” (cheeky; Quo should have been on stage performing this, but weren’t invited although they of course opened Live Aid), “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (joined by Richard Ashcroft), and “Fix You”. David Walliams and Matt Lucas then came on stage in the role of their Little Britain characters Lou and Andy and introduced Elton John who played “The Bitch Is Back”, “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”, and “Children of the Revolution” (with guest Pete Doherty). Bill Gates was then next up on stage to introduce Dido who sang “White Flag” and “Thank You” and “7 Seconds”with Youssou N’Dour.
Stereophonics were followed by REM who were introduced by Ricky Gervais. R.E.M. performed “Imitation of Life”, “Everybody Hurts”, and “Man on the Moon”. Then Kofi Annan introduced Ms. Dynamite who was followed by Keane and Travis. Bob Geldof joined Travis to sing “I Don’t Like Mondays”. Brad Pitt was next on stage to introduce Annie Lennox, then came UB40, Snoop Dogg and Razorlight.
Bob Geldof then introduced 24-year-old Birhan Woldu, the starving Ethiopian child whose image was so powerful in the video shown at Live Aid. Madonna took to the stage, embraced Birhan and held hands with her as she sang “Like a Prayer”.
Madonna was followed by Snow Patrol, The Killers, Joss Stone, Scissor Sisters, and Velvet Revolver (good but a bit out of place at this event). Then Lenny Henry presented Sting who sang the same songs as he performed at Live Aid: “Message in a Bottle”, “Driven To Tears”, and “Every Breath You Take”. Next Dawn French introduced Mariah Carey who was amazing, and David Beckham presented “his friend” Robbie Williams who got the crowd really going with “We Will Rock You”, “Let Me Entertain You”, “Feel”, and “Angels”. Peter Kay sauntered onto the stage and couldn’t resist singing “Is This the Way to Amarillo”.
Now we were moving to the legends; the bands that I had really come to see. The Who played “Who Are You”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. They were followed by an event which I never thought I would see, the reunion of Pink Floyd and a breath-taking performance of “Speak to Me”/”Breathe”, “Money”, “Wish You Were Here” (real lump in the thrat moment and closed with “Comfortably Numb”. It was left to Paul McCartney to close the show with “Get Back”, “Drive My Car” (with George Michael), “Helter Skelter”, and “The Long and Winding Road”. He finished with “Hey Jude’ to which everyone sang along, and which seemed to go on for ever. We left Hyde Park as the crowd continued to sing “Na Na Na NaNa Na Na….”). The show was originally scheduled to close at 9.30pm, but seriously overran and went on until just after midnight.
The Floyd reunion was, of course, the real highlight for me. Gilmour announced the reunion less than a month before the gig, on 12 June 2005: “ Like most people I want to do everything I can to persuade the G8 leaders to make huge commitments to the relief of poverty and increased aid to the third world. It’s crazy that America gives such a paltry percentage of its GNP to the starving nations. Any squabbles Roger and the band have had in the past are so petty in this context, and if re-forming for this concert will help focus attention then it’s got to be worthwhile.” Waters said on stage: “It’s actually quite emotional standing up here with these three guys after all these years. Standing to be counted with the rest of you. Anyway, we’re doing this for everyone who’s not here, but particularly, of course, for Syd.” The screens showed video from their past shows, and a film of the pig from the Animals flying over Battersea Power Station. This was simply mind-blowing stuff; for me it was a very emotional experience. I found Wish You Were Here particularly powerful; you felt they were singing the song for Syd; which of course they were. Syd sadly passed away the following year. With Wright’s subsequent passing in 2008, this was to be the final concert to feature all four playing together.
A great, momentous day.
Roger Waters plays Dark Side of the Moon Hyde Park 1st July 2006
Hype Park Calling Festival 2006
Main Stage: Roger Waters (featuring special guest Nick Mason); Texas; Starsailor; Breaks Co-op; Chris Difford
Stage 2: The Lightning Seeds; Robert Cray; Suzanne Vega; Blackbud; Rocco DeLuca and the Burden
I booked a cheap hotel room online for David and I to stay in for this event. The room was not far from Marble Arch. We arrived at Kings Cross and tool the tube over to the hotel. When we arrived the guy on reception apologised and explained that there had been some mix-ups with bookings and that he was going to have to move us to another hotel nearby. He offered to drive us there, and took us through a maze of streets, where we arrived at a run-down seedy looking hotel. He took us to our room which was upstairs and left. As we looked around the room we realised how we had got the booking so cheap….the bathroom had no door and the beds were worn and scruffy. Still, we decided it was only going to be for one night, so we shrugged our shoulders and walked over to Hyde Park; we still weren’t far from the Marble Arch entrance to the event.
Hyde Park Calling was a new festival. Roger Waters headlined the Saturday night and the Who were doing the honours on the Sunday night. The supporting line-up was strong. I remember we watched and enjoyed Texas, and some of the Lightning Seeds.
The main event was Roger Waters who was playing Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety, along with Floyd buddy Nick Mason on drums. The show featured an elaborate stage design by Mark Fisher (who was behind the design of Pink Floyd’s The Wall shows), and included giant puppets, large video screen displays and a 360° quadraphonic sound system. Roger’s performance was divided into two sets: the first featured Pink Floyd material and songs from Roger’s solo career, and the second The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety, plus encores. The songs were performed true to the recording, and the sound was crisp and clear from where we stood about half way back in the park. What better way to spend a summer evening than listening to the Floyd’s classic album. A guy in front of us was incredibly drunk, and insisted on singing all of the words to the songs right into our faces. Sometimes he would stop singing, hug us and tell us how great Pink Floyd were.
After the show we meandered back through the streets to our seedy hotel room. We were up early next morning and back on the train home.
Setlist. Set 1: In the Flesh; Mother; Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V); Have a Cigar; Wish You Were Here; Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun; Southampton Dock; The Fletcher Memorial Home; Perfect Sense (Parts 1 and 2); Leaving Beirut; Sheep
Set 2 The Dark Side of the Moon, with Nick Mason: Speak to Me; Breathe; On the Run; Time; Breathe (Reprise); The Great Gig in the Sky; Money; Us and Them; Any Colour You Like; Brain Damage; Eclipse
Encore: The Happiest Days of Our Lives; Another Brick in the Wall Part 2; Vera; Bring the Boys Back Home; Comfortably Numb
Roger Waters band: Roger Waters (vocals, bass guitar and acoustic guitar), P.P. Arnold (backing vocals), Graham Broad (drums and percussion), Jon Carin (keyboards), Andy Fairweather-Low (guitar), Carol Kenyon (backing vocals and lead vocals on “The Great Gig in the Sky”), Dave Kilminster (guitar), Katie Kissoon (backing vocals), Ian Ritchie (saxophone), Harry Waters (Hammond organ, synthesiser, and Roger Waters’ son), and Snowy White (guitar).
On 2nd July 2005 the impossible happened and the 1970s members of Pink Floyd reunited to perform at the London Live 8 concert in Hyde Park. I thought my chances of Roger Waters rejoining David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright were very slim, and I was delighted to be able to be see them together once more. This was the band’s first performance together in over 24 years, since The Wall concerts in 1981. Marie, David, Laura and I all went to Live 8, and greatly enjoyed the day, which I will blog about on another occasion. Today I’ll limit by writings to Pink Floyd’s appearance. Gilmour announced the reunion less than a month before the gig, on 12 June 2005: “ Like most people I want to do everything I can to persuade the G8 leaders to make huge commitments to the relief of poverty and increased aid to the third world. It’s crazy that America gives such a paltry percentage of its GNP to the starving nations. Any squabbles Roger and the band have had in the past are so petty in this context, and if re-forming for this concert will help focus attention then it’s got to be worthwhile.” Pink Floyd appeared later in the day, sandwiched between great sets by The Who and Paul McCartney; who closed the show. Floyd’s set consisted of Speak to Me; Breathe; Money; Wish You Were Here; and Comfortably Numb; a good choice of songs for their short appearance. Waters said on stage: “It’s actually quite emotional standing up here with these three guys after all these years. Standing to be counted with the rest of you. Anyway, we’re doing this for everyone who’s not here, but particularly, of course, for Syd.” The band who played with Pink Floyd in Hyde Park were Tim Renwick (guitar); Jon Carin (keyboards); saxophonist Dick Parry Money (played on the original recording); and backing singer Carol Kenyon. The screens showed video from their past shows, and a film of the pig from the Animals flying over Battersea Power Station. This was simply mind-blowing stuff; for me it was the highlight of the day, and a very emotional experience. We were close to the front (I’d managed to score tickets in the enclosed area near the stage) and had a great view of the band. I found Wish You Were Here particularly powerful; you felt they were singing the song for Syd; which of course they were. Syd sadly passed away the following year. With Wright’s subsequent passing in 2008, this was to be the final concert to feature all four playing together.
Pink Floyd Knebworth 30th June 1990
The next time I saw Pink Floyd was as part of a multi-act bill at a massive show at Knebworth in 1990. This was the Silver Clef Award Winners Concert and had an amazing line-up including Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard & The Shadows, Tears for Fears, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Elton John, Genesis, Ray Cooper, Robert Plant (with guest Jimmy Page), and Status Quo. Pretty strong bill! I won a pair of free tickets in a competition; I think is was with KitKat, and Marie and I went down for the weekend. This was a great concert, which deserves a blog post of its own. I’ll save that for another day, and limit my reflections today to Floyd’s part of the day. Because of the number of acts appearing, everyone played a short set. Floyd appeared last, after Paul McCartney (although he was officially the “headliner”). Their set was limited to 7 songs: Shine On You Crazy Diamond 1 – 5; The Great Gig in the Sky; Wish You Were Here; Sorrow (the only track they performed from their most recent album A Momentary Lapse of Reason); Money & Comfortably Numb; with Run Like Hell as an encore. We’d had a little wind and rain during the day, and by the time Floyd took to the stage is was raining again, and they weren’t able to use their circular screen because of the wind. This was the Waters-less line-up of Pink Floyd which featured Gilmour, Mason and Wright and for the Knewborth show the following additional musicians: Guy Pratt (bass); Jon Carin (keyboards); Tim Renwick (guitar); Gary Wallis (percussion); Candy Dulfer (saxophone); and Durga McBroom, Sam Brown (who had recently been in the charts with Stop!), Vicki Brown (Sam’s mum and Joe’s first wife; ex Vernon girl, who sadly passed away a year after this gig) & Clare Torry (who sang the original vocal on Great Gig in the Sky on DSOTM) all on backing vocals. A fitting end to a great concert; it was good to see Pink Floyd again, and I particularly enjoyed Shine On You Crazy Diamond. We left during the encore; it took ages to find our car as there were no markings or lights in the car park.
Pink Floyd Wembley Empire Pool 17th March 1977
The next time I saw Pink Floyd was during the “In the Flesh” tour, also known as “Animals” tour, in support of their new album “Animals”. The UK leg of the tour took in 5 nights at Wembley Empire Pool, and 4 nights at Stafford Bingley Hall. I went to the 3rd night at Wembley. I went down by train, leaving Newcastle around 3pm, straight on the tube across to Wembley, arriving at the Empire Pool around 7pm. The show followed the format that had become the norm for Floyd in the 70s; two parts, the first set featuring the new album “Animals”, and the second showcasing their last release “Wish You Were Here”. The encore was “Us and Them” from DSOTM the night I attended; some nights it would be “Money”, and one lucky audience in the States got the last ever performance of “Careful with that axe Eugene”. The tour featured large inflatable puppets, including the famous inflatable pig which flew over us and around the Empire Pool during “Pigs on the Wing”. I enjoyed the gig but found the band somewhat distant, and distant in a literal sense from my seat way up in the tiers. I’d seen the Sex Pistols live a few months before, and was starting to get interested in punk, and as part of that I was losing faith in bands like the Floyd. After the show I got the tube straight back to Kings Cross and caught the midnight mail train north, which got me back home around 7am. This was the last time I saw Pink Floyd for some 13 years; I missed the Wall shows at Earls Court, which in hindsight was a mistake that I now regret.
First set: Sheep; Pigs on the Wing 1; Dogs; Pigs on the Wing 2; Pigs (Three Different Ones)
Second set: Shine On You Crazy Diamond 1 – 5; Welcome to the Machine; Have a Cigar; Wish You Were Here; Shine On You Crazy Diamond 6 – 9. Encore: Us and Them