CD Review of Live in Gdansk by David Gilmour
Recommended if you like
Pink Floyd, Roger Waters,
Alan Parsons Project
Label
Columbia
David Gilmour: Live in Gdansk

Reviewed by Michael Fortes

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W
hen Pink Floyd did the unthinkable and actually reunited for the 2005 Live 8 concerts, hopes were high that the band might consider doing something more than just a one-off charity event. As it turned out, they did. Sort of. The following year, Pink Floyd toured the world – in pairs. Roger Waters convened his band and added Floyd drummer Nick Mason to its lineup while David Gilmour, in turn, added Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright to his band, so one could have conceivably witnessed the whole of Pink Floyd in concert on two separate nights, with plenty of overlap from The Dark Side of the Moon between them.

It was an unexpected turn of events, as was the sad and abrupt end to any further hopes of a more permanent Pink Floyd reunion when Wright succumbed to cancer just weeks before the release of Live in Gdansk. Chronicling the final night of Gilmour’s tour in support of his excellent 2006 solo album On an Island, this live document is no less polished and professional than the last two live Floyd albums, 1995’s Pulse and 1988’s The Delicate Sound of Thunder. Only two things are missing from Gdanskto keep it from playing like a carbon copy of days gone by – Nick Mason, and the stadium-size bombast of a Floyd show that contributes to the music’s ambience. Keyboardist Jon Carin, bassist Guy Pratt and saxophonist Dick Parry are all present, just as they were on the final Floyd tour documented on Pulse. Drummer Steve DiStanislao and former Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera round out the band.

Indeed, Gdansk feels like an intimate affair, in spite of the presence of the Baltic Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra on the ten On an Island tracks and a few of the Floyd numbers. Much of this is owed to the nature of the On an Island material, which finds Gilmour collaborating with his wife, Polly Samson, on the most of the album’s lyrics, which appear to be directly influenced by their relationship and family life. In spite of this, the new songs fit well with the old Floyd tunes – this is perhaps the best Gilmour has done in approaching the Floyd sound in his solo work, reaching back to light and breezy post-Syd Barrett, pre-Dark Side era. The presence of songs like “Fat Old Sun” (from 1970’s Atom Heart Mother) and “Echoes” (from 1971’s Meddle) in the set only strengthen that connection, and are two of the highlights of the concert.

David Gilmour

Unfortunately, the Dark Side material that opens the set has no edge to it – “Breathe” and “Time” both come off like hotel lounge renditions compared to everything that follows. And while “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb” play back well enough, they hardly need to be re-played yet again in the same tired arrangements. “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” at least sports a new sound – even though the twist is as simple as having the band lay back while Gilmour sings and plays the verses that sit in the middle of the song’s lengthy instrumental passages without any accompaniment, the effect is chilling.

Coming just a year after Gilmour’s Royal Albert Hall concert was released as the DVD “Remember That Night,” Live in Gdansk hardly feels necessary, symphony or no symphony. Diehard Floyd fans will find much in it to enjoy, and will surely find it preferable to any bootleg torrents floating around online at the various pirate sites (especially if opting for either the 3-CD plus 2-DVD edition, or the deluxe 5-LP vinyl box set). Everyone else can remain content that their old Floyd albums have not yet been rendered obsolete.

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