Confessions of a Footwear Collector

My oh my! Tonight was an object lesson in making things difficult for oneself. Mr Gilmour and myself had rather accident-prone evenings, albeit for very different reasons.

To set the scene: I’ve been keeping my head down all week at work to avoid being sent to Bristol and just to make sure there was no chance of missing the shows I had booked leave as well. Last night the MD was fully charged in preparation, the microphone was tested. All systems go for another addition to my footwear collection.

The day passes without incident; there were no phone calls instructing me to head out west. I work just outside central London so I loitered in the office, intending to head over to the Festival Hall at 6:30.

Just before I leave I make one final check of the MD. What’s this?!? A flat battery?!?!?!? But how??? It seems I had failed to set the ‘Hold’ switch and the machine had started whilst in my briefcase – it had been running all day and the battery was flat! @£$%^&*!!!!!!!! So, what to do? Hmm, the machine has an emergency battery pack. But it’s at home and will it record from it and if it will, will it last long enough to capture the whole show? More importantly, have I got time to go home and get it? A quick calculation reveals that I might just make it. However, to get from office to house I have to use the Jubilee and Northern Lines, which are among st the least reliable lines on what is a creaking and old underground system. Anyhoo, I run to the station and Glory Be! there is a train waiting for me. One impossible thing is compounded by a second when I catch the second train also without waiting. This never happens – what foul trick has fate in store to correct such serendipity? I cover the distance to the house in a record 10 minutes.
The battery pack is in one of two places. Oh no it isn’t. @£$%^&* typical! Much cursing and swearing ensues as the contents of the offending cupboards are strewn across the floor. Aha!!! (Why on earth did I put it there?!?) Now it’s a race against time: it is 7:55 and the show starts at 8:00. Let’s hope the support a) turn up for the gig and b) play for a while. I drive back to the tube station ‘cos it’s quicker. Another train arrives as I arrive – I am using up a whole year of good tube journeys in one night!

I finally arrive at the Royal Festival Hall at 8:45 – I’ve missed the support so I can’t tell you anything about them. From the number of chairs on stage, there were a lot of them. In the interval I meet up with Elek (Zoltan Toth) and as always it’s a pleasure to put a face to the name of an Echosian. He said the support were better than Sparklehorse but frankly a dentist’s drill sounds better than Sparklehorse.

Anyhoo, at 9:10 the MC announces that DG will be on soon – I settle in to my seat and set up. The seats on my left are empty, which is always a bad thing. The last thing you need when attempting to cobble together some high quality footwear is a large group of people squeezing past and committing their confusion to tape!

The lights go down; David Gilmour appears on stage, wearing dark trousers and a blue shirt that is much smarter than the T-shirt and jeans he wore for Meltdown, fashion fans. Obviously he is smartening up for the cameras. But what’s this? There is a disturbance to my right as an usherette guides a latecomer to their seat *next to me*. Curses! I am bound to be spotted! I stand up, cradling the recorder out of site, praying I don’t press any buttons I shouldn’t cos DG is on stage and has started playing. Just to make my discomfort yet more acute, they both trip over my briefcase which was left under my seat and then to add insult to injury the usherette proceeds to return whence she came, disturbing us all over again. I despatch her to the other end of the row where there are fewer people to disturb – ones who aren’t trying not to be spotted by officious members of staff. And so I settle down to watch the gig, constantly distracted looking for signs of failing batteries. Stress? You don’t know the meaning of the word! 🙂

Well, if you’ve got this far you must really want to hear about the show, so I’ll tell you.

David opened in customary style with SOYCD Pt 1-5. For those familiar with the Meltdown show, it was a near carbon copy, apart from DG hitting a bum chord. Yes, really! It wasn’t especially noticeable audibly, but a rapid change in an odd place gave it away visually. Then came Fat Old Sun and just as at Meltdown, it was executed beautifully. I said it then and I’ll say it again now: close your eyes and it could be 1970. Then after some fiddling with effects, DG launches into Coming Back to Life. This is quite a mellow version, not kicking in quite as strongly as it sometimes does – perhaps the audience aren’t ready for something as (relatively) up tempo this early in the show. Then comes the first surprise of the evening as we are treated Syd’s Domino. DG does it justice. After that it’s back to familiar territory with High Hopes, complete with scorching slide guitar solo. Then as an extra treat the choir of 9 backing singers reprise some of their parts, which comes over really well.

Next up is a reprise of Je Crois Entendre Encore from The Pearl Fisher and hot on it’s heels, Smile, the ‘new’ one, which hasn’t changed much in the six months since Meltdown. DG is concerned about the state of his voice at this point but gets through both without obvious trouble. However he does muff a line or two in Smile, as he did in Coming Back to Life and in High Hopes. Perhaps he was under-rehearsed, perhaps (like me) familiarity with the task had allowed some complacency, perhaps it was just nerves. But given the near perfection of PF shows, even the smallest error is noteworthy.

Then comes the next (and biggest) suprise. “Right” says DG, “I’d like to bring on Richard Wright now”. Holy smoke – I’m in a building with half of Pink Floyd! (or 2/3 if you prefer) The plan was to do Breakthrough from Broken China, but frankly they made a complete hash of it. Rick knew it, but no-one else did. DG muffs some more words and Dick Parry goes AWOL when a sax solo is due and so they stop playing and drag Dick back on. In a DG interview in yesterday’s Times, there was mention of DG asking Rick to play but at the time of writing, Rick had yet to show for rehearsals. It showed. But it was good to see Rick back on stage and he seemed to enjoy playing. The audience was indulgent, as audience always are with rock legends such as these, but really it was just sloppy. DG made amends with a nice solo at the end though.

But enough whinging! Next up is Wish You Were Here. Rick takes over from Michael Kamen on the grand piano (he was using an old electric piano before) and adds some atmospheric chords. Normal service is resumed. No mistakes, just another great rendition of a truly great song.

After that we’re into Comfortably Numb. Robert Wyatt has been invited back to give a repeat performance of Roger’s part and he is noticeably more assured than he was at the Meltdown show. But what of the failing batteries I hear you cry? Well thankfully the MD is still going strong but now time is against me. The clock marches remorselessly past 71 minutes as DG launches into the big solo…and for the first time in my life I want a David Gilmour solo to end quickly. Amazing, but true. Fortunately for me, he obliges. It’s just not the done thing to change discs during a song.

Next up is Richard Thompson’s Dimming of the Day. DG plays this very slightly differently, but you’d only notice if like me you’ve spent the last 6 months working it out based on the Meltdown version. The last song of the main set is Shine On You Crazy Diamond Pt 6-9, and it is another carbon copy of the Meltdown show. As the song draws to a close, the other band members depart, leaving just Dave, Dick Parry and Caroline Dell, the cellist.

And so to the encores, which consist of a competent version of A Great Day for Freedom and then another trip to left field for Hushabye Mountain, just as at Meltdown.

This was a good, not outstanding show but for me it’s always a pleasure to hear David Gilmour play, even on an off night.

Main Set
1. Shine on You Crazy Diamond Pt 1-5
2. Fat Old Sun
3. Coming Back to Life
4. Domino
5. High Hopes
6. High Hopes (choir only)
7. Je crois entendre encore
8. Smile
9. Breakthrough
10. Wish You were Here
11. Comfortably Numb
12. Dimming of the Day
13. Shine On You Crazy Diamond Pt 6-9

14. A Great Day For Freedom
15. Hushabye Mountain

Thanks to | Home page:

David signed this at the show on Jan 16 with thanks to Jason Jodoin

Pictures above with thanks to Dion

Daily Telegraph

Chamber rock and roll David Cheal reviews David Gilmour at Festival Hall

He has never been the most prolific of musicians – the last album by his group Pink Floyd was released eight years ago – but now, at the age of 55, David Gilmour seems to have invented a whole new genre. Best described as chamber rock, it’s a form of music that uses predominantly acoustic instruments and vocal harmonies to create a sound that is warm, richly textured and genuinely different.

Gilmour first presented the concept at last year’s Festival Hall Meltdown season, curated by Robert Wyatt; now he has reprised it with three shows at the same venue, of which this was the first. And the experience is best summed up in a single word: tingly.

The dramatic peaks achieved by some of Floyd’s finest moments may not have been matched, but this was a show that was about delicacy and understatement rather than bombast and flashbombs.

Indeed, it began with Gilmour attempting – and pulling off – a wholly implausible feat: a solo acoustic version of Shine on You Crazy Diamond. How could that epic four-note motif possibly come across as anything other than utterly feeble on an acoustic guitar? And yet what came through was not so much the motif as the song, stripped down to its essence and laid bare.

Next, and rather less radically, came Fat Old Sun from the great Atom Heart Mother album (inexplicably ignored on the recent Echoes – the Best of Pink Floyd compilation), on which he was joined by the rest of the band: double bass, drums, acoustic guitar, piano, cello, and a nine-strong vocal ensemble (later, Gilmour also introduced fellow Floydist Rick Wright on keyboards). The song’s aura of dreamy torpor was perfectly suited to the arrangement.

Among the highlights of what followed were a gorgeous arrangement of Je crois entendre encore from Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, and an exquisite Comfortably Numb, with vocal contributions from Wyatt.

A couple of times when Gilmour strapped on an electric guitar there were cheers from sections of the crowd who seemed to be anticipating some kind of rock-out, but they were missing the point: his Gibson was mostly just another instrument, another element in the delicately woven tapestry of sound.

Having said that, he did deliver a piercing solo in A Great Day for Freedom, but overwhelmingly this was ensemble music of the highest order. And I suspect that it is something that Gilmour, an endearingly diffident performer who has never looked truly comfortable in an arena-rock setting, has wanted to do for a very long time.

London Evening Standard

Shine on you crusty diamond
David Gilmour, Ghostland
Rating: (One out of three stars)
By Max Bell at the RFH, 16/1/02

When Dave Gilmour sold his Notting Hill house and gave the £4.5 million proceeds to Crisis, most people roared: “What a ruddy good wealthy bloke.”

Dave’s former muckers Pink Floyd might be considered fair game for Walking With Beasts – the Jurassic rock period – but Gilmour is ageing up nicely.

The last time he was at the RFH, as part of the Robert Wyatt Meltdown season, he gave a decent account of the acoustic guitar arts, apparently, without subjecting the audience to dated nonsense like Oi! Teacher! Leave those Old Etonians alone!

Last night’s rerun offered more Barrett and Bizet. There were no inflated pigs or too many ideas above one’s power station. Always the most methodical of players, Gilmour sounded like he’d worked his programme out to the nth degree. He’s no great improviser, yet his linear skills maintain their own dynamic. I prefer Stephen Stills myself, but you can’t have everything.

An academic Shine On You Crazy Diamond, sifting the Syd tribute via slivers of Floydian history from Meddle and Ummagumma, ushered in an ensemble eager to satisfy the paymaster general with chorale, cello and agreeable noises. Je Crois Entendre Encore and a flimsy new piece called Smile showed them off. One tilted one’s parasol appreciatively.

Therein the dilemma: to play the librarian card, or hope for impossible acid reverie? Neither perhaps, since Gilmour’s no frontman. He was embarrassed by Pink’s fanatics, unsure of the artistic point of the whole.

Rock’s aristocracy is a bind. Old classics like Wish You Were here, hmm? Jolly good show but not really relevant anymore, are they? Where’s Viv Stanshall, now we need the blighter?

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