Directed by: David Mallet
Performed by: David Gilmour and band
- Sixteen tracks
- “Spare Digits” – a selection of six bits of extra footage from the concerts
- “Home Movie” – rehearsal footage
- “Miscellaneous” – three bonus video bits of live performances
- “High Hopes (choral)” – choir-only version
- Lyrics for all the main tracks
- Sound tester
Released by: Capitol
My Advice: Own it.
[ad#longpost]David Gilmour’s place in history is a unique one. Originally brought in to Pink Floyd to balance their completely whacked out frontman, Syd Barrett, he went on to share an unsteady leadership of the band with bassist Roger Waters. Then when Waters left, Gilmour ostensibly went onto…relinquish the front man position altogether. Instead, the band opted for concerts that were larger than God, with the band dwarfed by lightshows, movies and special effects. That’s all well and good, but it’s very easy to forget that Gilmour is, at his heart, a musician rather than some kind of meta-performer. Granted, his guitar solos stick in the mind of anyone who’s ever heard songs like “Comfortably Numb,” but still he hasn’t been “seen” on stage for a while now.
The good news is that this, while not technically Gilmour “unplugged”, is certainly Gilmour stripped down. From the opening strains of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” (performed by Gilmour solo), it’s evident that these live performances (recorded at London’s Royal Festival Hall) are at the opposite end of the spectrum from Floyd’s bombast. And for the most part, this disc does an excellent job of cataloguing an eccentric mix of Gilmour’s own work, two songs by Barrett, some Floyd standards (including the lesser known but still wonderful “Fat Old Sun”) and some surprises–including a Richard Wright song (with the man himself coming out to sing and play the keys) and a selection from the opera The Pearl Fishers arranged by Gilmour, amongst others.
There are few weak moments. Certainly, Gilmour’s voice is maybe operating at eighty percent of the capacity he once had, but he’s a smart singer and knows how best to work around this–seldom does the rawness show. The choir he has backing him up is stellar, and amongst the rest of his band the standouts would have to be: the enthusiastic Chucho Merchan on double bass and Caroline Dale, who can play the hell out of a cello. Unfortunately, Soft Machine member Robert Wyatt sits in on one of the renditions of “Comfortably Numb,” and–I’m sorry–but the lead in the song is not spoken word, and must be required to carry a tune. I realize he’s an icon of the scene and all that, but Don McLean shouldn’t be singing “American Pie” these days either. It ruins that track completely and only an additional version with Bob Geldof (who played Pink in The Wall) somewhat redeems the whole thing.
But all in all, the main concert footage is choice. As far as features go, the disc is nicely stacked as well. The “Spare Digits” section appears to be just additional footage that they had lying around once editing had been completed. The “Miscellaneous” section is quite interesting though, containing three live performances: Gilmour has a hand in a cover of “I Put a Spell on You,” sings the Lieber & Stoller/Elvis Presley track “Don’t” at a tribute concert, and lastly a version of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, arranged by long-time collaborator Michael Kamen. All three are very interesting, as most Floyd fans–like yours truly–probably haven’t heard a lot of covers by Gilmour.
The “Home Movie” is exactly as it’s described up top: some footage shot at rehearsal. It’s fairly unexciting, although Gilmour explaining what’s going through the mind of the “bloke” singing “Je Crois Entendre Encore” is quite amusing. A nice addition is the “choral” version of “High Hopes,” which is Gilmour giving his choir a chance to show off. It’s simply their underlying choral bit from the song performed live with nothing else on top of it. Points to David for giving huge credit to these kickass singers. All that remains are the lyrics for all sixteen main songs (a nice and unexpected addition) as well as a sound tester that calibrates your system for optimal listening.
Whereas a lot of live music DVDs go out with bare bones stuff, this title adds onto an already sweet set of live footage with some worthy extras. I personally think anyone would enjoy this disc in their collection as it’s simply fine music, but Floyd fans must grab it post-haste.