Monday, 27 August 2012
David Gilmour: Remember That Night
It certainly took me a whole lot of time to put my hands on David Gilmour’s Remember That Night live performance video. Was it worth the wait? Most definitely! The point, though, is that I shouldn’t have been forced to wait in the first place (read more about my quest for this performance here).
So, what is Remember That Night? It’s a live performance of David Gilmour, Pink Floyd’s guitarist and the leader of the band in its post Roger Waters era. It was recorded and videoed in 2007, when Gilmour ran a special night to remember at London’s Albert Hall. A large crew accompanies Gilmour in his adventure here, including fellow Floyd member Richard Wright (who died from cancer the following year), musicians who played with Gilmour’s Pink Floyd before (like Guy Pratt), new band members and several guest appearances. Notable in his absence is Nick Mason, Floyd’s drummer, who did take part in previous Gilmour era Floyd live recorded shows like Delicate Sound of Thunder and Pulse.
Contents wise, Remember That Night is a two and a half hour long performance split into two halves. We start with a couple of songs from The Dark Side of the Moon, but as Gilmour himself admits we move on to “boring” songs from Gilmour’s solo repertoire. Rest assured, though: the second half features tried and tested masterpieces from Pink Floyd.
The beauty of Remember That Night is in its selection of songs and their performance. Gilmour may not be the biggest guitar virtuoso ever, but his guitar playing is almost certainly the one I have been exposed to the most through repeat listening. It is therefore great to see that even in his sixties the guy hasn’t lost his touch. Indeed, the same can be said about the musicians around him, all of whom seem in top form: the performance is slick, so slick it could pass for a studio album; it is often noticeably richer than the studio album.
Being that this is, effectively, a Pink Floyd performance, one is exposed to a full on show featuring lights and lasers in addition to the mere act of a band playing music. Luckily for most of us who could not attend Albert Hall that memorable night, the event has been well shot and recorded: the sound quality equals that of a well recorded studio album (with fine surround sound as a bonus), and the filming knows what the audience cares about the most. We thus see close ups of Gilmour operating his guitar and applying his techniques as well as Wright programming his army of keyboards during and in between songs, reading from his written notes as he goes. To this Pink Floyd fan those acts mean a lot; I greatly missed the personal factor in Pulse and, sadly, I greatly miss it from most live performance videos. Now I just miss Rick Wright.
Best scene #1: Fat Old Sun. The transition between the quite, acoustic part of the song to its more noisy half is handled with much aplomb. The result is truly moving.
Best scene #2: Echoes performed to it full twenty minutes plus of glorious length. This special song has a special place in my heart, but I have to say the particular performance here seems to top them all. It certainly beats the one from Meddle! I particularly liked the duet between Wright and Gilmour, both in instruments and vocals.
Best scene #3: Comfortably Numb, featuring a David Bowie singing Roger Waters’ parts. It seals the deal in spectacular fashion with a song that, in my view, is one of the best songs to ever be recorded.
Any David Gilmour / Pink Floyd act is a case of preaching to the preacher when it comes to yours truly; I love anything coming out of my favorite band. However, Remember That Night takes things further. Instead of featuring a band of oldies singing their old stuff to make a new buck, what we have here is a bunch of experienced veterans taking that old stuff of theirs and improving it. Me, I don't know how they manage to keep up on their feet for the duration of the performance.
Miss it at your own peril: Remember That Night Gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me.
P.S. Special thanks have to go to the record label for making me wait several years for this one. I had my wallet out and was willing to pay a reasonable price for years, yet for reasons still eluding me they chose to keep me waiting.