Thursday, September 24, 2015

David Gilmour: The ups and downs of flying solo from Pink Floyd

Pete Clemons article from the Coventry Telegraph

David Gilmour: The ups and downs of flying solo from Pink Floyd.

David Gilmour at the start of his European tour in 2006 to promote On An Island.

This month sees the release of the fourth album from David Gilmour, best known for his work with Pink Floyd.

Rattle That Lock contains ten tracks and, like his previous album On An Island, David has enlisted the help of  Phil Manzanera, Polly Samson and Andy Jackson with its creation.

To support the album’s release, live dates have been scheduled in London and Brighton this autumn, with a US tour in 2016.

The forthcoming tour sold out almost instantly - but this was not always quite the case for David Gilmour concerts.

David Gilmour is, arguably, best known for being the lead guitarist and vocalist of  Pink Floyd.

Towards the mid-1980s Pink Floyd were in a state of flux.

As David said at the time: ‘We’re not splitting up or anything, officially or otherwise, but we just aren’t doing anything right now.”

This led to all four band members becoming involved in their own separate projects.

David Gilmour performing in Germany in 2006 and inset, a programme of the About Face tour in 1984 and CD artwork from the Remember That Night special edition CD.

And 1984 saw the release of David’s second solo album, About Face. This, in turn, led to David touring the album both in Europe and the UK and then across to Canada and the US.

At one point during the creation of the album, it seems that David was struggling.

He commented: “I was running out of time and lyrical inspiration so I was a bit stuck. And Pete (Townshend, of  The Who) had offered to help previously at one point, so I took him up on it.”

During the 1960s and throughout the 1970s, Pink Floyd were notoriously difficult to interview.

Music fans, in my opinion, seemed to know the band more as a unit rather than the individuals involved within it. This may, I think, have hampered them slightly whenever they did take on solo projects.

For example, when the David Gilmour tour visited Birmingham Odeon, it was far from a sell-out.

In fact when support act Dream Academy – who had replaced the TV Personalities at short notice – were on stage, the venue was practically empty.

This lack of interest was also reflected in the VHS video released shortly after the tour.

The film had been recorded at London’s Hammersmith Odeon the night before the Birmingham gig. It sold poorly and had not been released in Europe due to lack of commercial viability.

Pink Floyd in their early years

The gig itself was fairly low-key when compared to previous Pink Floyd gigs I attended. The set list included songs from David’s then current album, along with a few from his debut solo album from 1978.

Also included had been Run like Hell and Comfortably Numb from Pink Floyd’s epic The Wall album.

The next time I would see David Gilmour perform solo was at the Royal Festival Hall in January 2002.

I don’t say it lightly but this was indeed an incredible and jaw-dropping event that I, for one, was not prepared for.

The set included a Syd Barrett song Dominoes, as well as a tune from Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother LP, Fat Old Sun.

Those songs, along with some other Pink Floyd favourites, and many other surprises, had been sandwiched between the most incredible versions of Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Parts 1-5 had opened the show with the remainder of this epic closing it.

David’s band that night included Michael Kamen (piano), Nic France (drums), Dick Parry (sax), Neil MacColl (guitar) and a gospel choir which included Pink Floyd backing vocalists Durga McBroom and Sam Brown.

Pink Floyd keyboard player Richard Wright was present during the each of those very special gigs. But guest appearances throughout each of the three nights were made by Robert Wyatt, Bob Geldof, and for the night I attended, Kate Bush.

Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd performing on stage during the Live8 concert in Hyde Park, 2005.

When asked how he went about choosing the material for the shows, David replied: “I went through the entire Pink Floyd catalogue, and I picked the tunes I liked. Then, after I figured out which ones would work with the instrumentation I had in mind, I spent about three months fiddling around in my home studio mocking up the arrangements.”

David’s third solo album On An Island was released on March 6, 2006, his 60th birthday.

It entered the charts at No.1. His first ever chart topper away from Pink Floyd.

In support, a tour of Europe and the US was arranged which stopped off in the UK during May.

The gig was in two parts. The first half of the show showcased On An Island, while the second half of the gig was handed over entirely to the Pink Floyd back catalogue.

The almost customary guest list this time around included Mica Paris, David Crosby, Graham Nash and, for the night I attended, David Bowie, who helped out on a rendition of  Arnold Layne at the Royal Albert Hall.

David Gilmour and Mica Paris performing live at the Royal Albert Hall in 2004 in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Again, the whole thing was simply breath-taking.

Slightly later on the tour, the audience would see David add an impromptu version of a Syd Barrett song titled Dark Globe to the set list. This was in tribute to the memory of Syd who had passed away during July 2006.

The final gig of the tour, held at the Gdansk Shipyard in Poland before an estimated 50,000 people, was captured and released on both CD and DVD.

It is a significant release for many reasons. None more so than the fact it captures one of the last live performances by Richard Wright, who passed away during 2008.

The last time I saw David Gilmour perform live was at Leicester Square Odeon, where I went to see the premier of the above mentioned DVD. After the showing of the film, a question and answer session was held.

After that, and totally by surprise to me, the touring band performed live an extraordinarily good piece of music called Island Jam which, incidentally, was a bonus track on the live CD set.

It has been said many times that David Gilmour is not the most prolific of musicians. But when he does come out to play, expect memorable gigs that include exquisite guitar playing, warm vocal harmonies and richly velvet music performed by as skilled a set of musicians you are ever likely to come across.
David Gilmour’s fourth album, Rattle That Lock, is released worldwide on September 18.

Interview on youtube

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