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David Gilmour - Live in Gdańsk CD (album) cover


David Gilmour


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4.21 | 168 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars After being disappointed by recent live albums from Yes, Ian Anderson, and even King Crimson, I wasn't expecting much from this year 2008 release by yet another classic rocker lugging his dusty back catalogue around on tour. And yet the two-disc set, ostensibly supporting Gilmour's "On an Island" album but including a generous selection of older Pink Floyd songs, is more than just an obligatory stroll down memory lane. All the music, old and new, was presented with genuine affection, and performed with surprising, almost palpable energy.

The show opens with a brief "Dark Side of the Moon" medley: an appetizer for starving Eastern Block Floyd aficionados who never had the chance to see their heroes while the Wall was still up (Khrushchev's wall, not Roger Waters'). The song "Breathe" also sets the mood and tempo for the "On an Island" material, filling the rest of Disc One and revealing its obvious shared DNA when played in tandem with the classic Floyd chestnuts.

Anyone who considered Gilmour's '06 solo album too relaxed will embrace these far more galvanized live renditions, all of them spruced up by some of his most emotional guitarmanship on record. Not that he had much choice: the band, with occasional full orchestral accompaniment, was playing an outdoor gig to an estimated crowd of 50,000 enthusiastic fans. Subtlety and restraint don't count for much when trying to reach the back row of a kilometer-wide audience.

But it's the music on Disc Two that concertgoers were likely waiting for: an abbreviated Best of Pink Floyd omnibus, from "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" to beyond "The Wall". You've heard these songs performed countless times already, I know. But rarely with such passion and conviction, making them sound fresher than ever. It probably helped to have a second guitarist (Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera) almost equal in stature to the headliner, and a rhythm section able to play with more assertive punch than Nick Mason and Roger Waters.

Additional resonance (for Pink Floyd heads, at any rate) was supplied by the presence of Rick Wright, making what would sadly be one of his last recorded performances. The founding Floyd keyboardist would pass away two years later, just as this album was going to press.

By 2008 you might be excused for expecting carbon copies of familiar hits, all played by rote (see: "Pulse", 1995). Happily, it didn't happen here. The new version of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" is notable for its stripped-down arrangement of the opening verses: just Gilmour's voice and guitar, plus Wright's piano. The long instrumental break in the middle of "Echoes" becomes a dramatic call-and-response between the two ex-Floyd bandmates. And I don't recall the "Atom Heart Mother" filler song "Fat Old Sun" ever sounding quite this dynamic before.

In short (after a typically long-winded accolade), this one's a keeper, unlike the contemporary efforts of too many other Golden Age artifact-proggers. The first disc re-asserts Gilmour's position as a consummate bandleader; and the second one (sorry, Mr. Waters) further validates his role as the caretaker of the long musical legacy that made his reputation.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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