With the release of David Gilmour’s ‘Live In Gdansk’ concert (on CD/DVD & Vinyl) the movie of the same name has just screened in the USA. AFG’s Florida correspondent Wayne Shelor managed to find his way in to see the movie, and filed this report.
Today (23 Sept 2008) is the official release date of David Gilmour’s multi-version “Live in Gdansk” album, and if the one-night-only viewing of the movie is any indication of the album (and it is, I’ve already auditioned the 5 LP version for 4 days), Floyd fans will find this concert a remarkable documentation of the morphing and reinterpretation of not only David Gilmour’s most recent solo efforts, but a delightful and matured presentation of some long-loved Pink Floyd gems.
In a nutshell: the entire concert is accompanied by the Baltic Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra; the songs are done without P.P. Arnold, Durga McBroom or any female backup voices whatsoever; it (the film) was edited to present an almost continuous musical offering of transcendent songs; and the movie could almost be Required Viewing for those who bought technician Phil Taylor’s book “The Black Strat” … for most of the film, David’s black Fender Stratocaster was the primary subject of the cameras’ eyes. (Curiously, since the Strat was used so often, one never sees Taylor re-tuning it, but such an absence speaks to the editing: almost no patter or banter with the audience, and each song concluded with applause segueing into the next piece).
Since the film – ostensibly to be shown Monday, Sept. 22 and never again – was not publicized at all, I shouldn’t have been surprised (but was) that there were only nine people at the one-time-only viewing. In a theater that seats 135 people in a room selected because of its special digital projector and surround sound speakers, the movie was a delight to watch. And like me, others travelled a bit to see it. Matt and Allie – who’ve travelled far and wide to see Pink Floyd and more recently, Roger Waters – drove a good ways to Bradenton, Florida from Venice, well south on the Gulf coast. (And had it not been for Matt taking it upon himself leave briefly to approach management and ask that the sonically arresting sound be turned up a bit, we wouldn’t have had as good a “live” concert as we did!).
If you’ve never been able to watch – and watch closely and at length – David bend notes in his patented style, then you should hope that the DVDs that accompany three of the five available versions of LiG mirror what was on the large screen – it was incredible. And speaking of the close-ups … as the film began, almost all of the shots were of David and keyboardist Rick Wright. Although Rick died of a cancer last week, David looks rather older and more weary than does Rick in this concert filmed in August 2006. Our Male Model With a Lion’s Mane of the 1960s has lost all of the hair on the top of his head, and what is left is totally gray. I realized, as I watched this film, that when I hear Pink Floyd, I still “see” the young musicians of my youth. (The memories of this man in his old age/are the visions of a band in its prime …).
Since most fans of The Brothers Floyd will not be able to audition the assorted CDs, LPs and DVDs until today, I’ll not spoil the initial excitement of hearing something old-done-new for the first time, but this document is testament to Gilmour’s forward-moving style and sound in looking back at his musical canon from the past 40 years. Watching Phil Manzanera, Dick Parry and Guy Pratt run their fingers around the rims of wine-filled crystal goblets to provide the minutes-long single-note spine of the beginning of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” was take-my-breath-away cool, and one of the musical triumphs I’ll share here so those who hear it (but cannot see it) will understand what created that oh-so-familiar note when they listen to the CDs.
Hearing (and watching) Rick Wright sing “Comfortably Numb” – his voice now stilled – was worth the price of admission. And the cameras center on him several times as he plays notes I’ve not heard before.
There were just enough lasers, smoke and lights (and even the requisite oil-and-water-slides during Astronomy Domine) to lend a sense of validity to the live concert, attended by 50,000 fans.
I think Roger Waters might be impressed with the sound and arrangements of the symphony, for it (mainly the strings) added a tasty texture to songs long familiar to even casual fans of the Pink Floyd sound.
This is not a film or a soundtrack that’ll move an audience to stand and cheer, or even sing along loudly; it was more of a sometimes solemn, often intriguing document of something that once was, and now never will be again.