David Gilmour's mammoth live DVD is called "Remember That Night," but the night I REALLY remember was when I saw him -- and the first post-Waters version of Pink Floyd -- play two shows in the old Jay Stadium. I was sixteen and it was my first big concert out on my own, escorted by my super-cool Aunt Julie, there to see a band that both of us were passionate about.
So now Gilmour's back again with a new live show and a new bunch of Floyd re-interpretations, including all the songs off his latest album. You might be wondering how it looks and sounds. Well...
He's got his favourite musicians with him, first off. Bassist Guy Pratt has been touring with him forever, and so has Jon Carin (who, thanks to touring with Roger Waters as well, probably knows the songs better than anybody). Old Floyd-mate Richard Wright is there being typically stoic and capable, and -- wonder of wonders! -- Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera is the second guitarist. Sweetie.
The weird thing is, watching this concert, you'd think the only people on stage were Richard Wright and Gilmour, plus maybe the drummer because he's slightly to Gilmour's left. The shots are single-minded and static, as though the cameramen are incapable of a pan. The few shots of the audience show a crowd who is very happy to sit down and relax, except for the few people who'd managed to sneak their alcohol in and who cut a very sad picture dancing by themselves, because they're football hooligans and they're paunchy.
The strangest thing is the almost complete disappearance of Jon Carin in the second act. If you've seen other Gilmour and Waters live shows, you know that Carin does EVERYTHING, jammed in behind his keyboards, singing and playing that guitar he manages to awkwardly fit in behind all the equipment. But I swear that you don't see him AT ALL during the second half, as though he had something crappy hanging out of his nose after the intermission. Poor Jon, does so much and nobody cares but me.
And Gilmour? Still sounds great in every way, and even manages to rock out a bit, though the entire set is more laid-back than chuggy-psychedelic, which is probably what happens when you include David Crosby and Graham Nash in the lineup.
Poor David Bowie is the latest sacrifice to the "Comfortably Numb" meat-grinder. They always need somebody to do the Roger Waters parts, which are short and thankless and which end in the middle of the song...before Gilmour's final, celebrated, show-stopping guitar solo. Since Gilmour has recently been casting CELEBRITIES in this role (David Bowie, natch), they insist on doing it their own way, which is always pretty awful.
But I'm spoiled, see. I saw that gorgeous duet with Rachel Fury back at Jay Stadium, and even though that particular concert has never been released on DVD, I still ritually pull out the videotape ("The Delicate Sound of Thunder") and watch it again and again. They managed to do that (overplayed, cheesy, but remarkable) song properly once-upon-a-time, why can't they do it again?
Waters' versions have sucked too, if it's any consolation.
The highlights? I'm not rabid about Gilmour's new album so I'll skip those songs. They do a pretty much complete version of "Echoes" (which leaves you wondering who's doing the squeaky parts), and Bowie's good on "Arnold Layne" (yay!)
But the real show-stopper is the song that Gilmour quixotically resurrected during his last tour, and here it is again: "Fat Old Sun," a forgotten piece of Atom Heart Mother fluff. When he comes in at the end with his distorted guitar...you die, it's pure power.
Thanks Dave. You're weird but I love ya.