By John Curley
David Gilmour wrapped up three very successful days of concerts in New York City with his show at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, April 12th. It was the final performance of Gilmour’s North American tour, which is in support of his Rattle That Lock album. Gilmour, who is now 70 years old, and his very talented backing band wowed the sold-out crowd with outstanding live readings of songs new and old.
In addition to Gilmour (electric guitars, acoustic guitars, classical guitars, console steel guitar, and lead vocals), the band features Roxy Music alum Phil Manzanera (electric guitars, acoustic guitars, 12-string acoustic guitars, backing vocals), Guy Pratt (bass guitars, double bass, backing vocals), Jon Carin (keyboards, electric guitars, lap steel guitars, backing vocals), Kevin McAlea (keyboards, accordion), Steve DiStanslao (drums, percussion, backing vocals), João Mello (saxophone), Bryan Chambers (backing vocals), Louise Clare Marshall (backing vocals), and Lucita Jules (backing vocals).
The two-and-a-half-hour show, which featured two sets separated by a 15-minute intermission and an encore, began with the ethereal, Pink Floyd-sounding instrumental “5 A.M.” from the new album. The performance of the song was solid, and Gilmour’s guitar work was fantastic. Seven songs from the new album were performed during the show, and they fit into the set quite seamlessly. The sound for the concert was crisp and clear, the best I’ve ever experienced at an arena show. The stage set featured a large round video screen above center stage upon which films and images were projected during the show. The songs were further augmented by lights, lasers, and a dry ice fog.
Both sets mixed new material with Pink Floyd classics. The first set contained quite a few highlights. The title track of the new album, “Rattle That Lock,” was the second song performed on the night. It was quite good. The band all contributed greatly to it, and Gilmour’s fretwork was fantastic. It received a big hand from the crowd. The new track “Faces Of Stone” followed, and the performance of the song provided a real treat for guitar aficionados as Gilmour’s playing was shown in close up on the screen above the stage. Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” received the first big ovation of the night, which started with the acoustic opening of the song. Many in the crowd were singing along with every word at the top of their voices. The band then drove straight into Pink Floyd’s “What Do You Want From Me” from The Division Bell album, and Gilmour’s performance on the song was absolutely outstanding. The performance of the new song “A Boat Lies Waiting” followed and featured Gilmour’s first appearance of the night on the console steel guitar. Gilmour’s incredible fretwork continued on the new track “The Blue.” When the bass kickied in for the very familiar intro to Pink Floyd’s “Money,” the crowd erupted. “Money” featured terrific saxophone work by Mello as well as a quite fantastic extended guitar break by Gilmour. Pink Floyd’s “Us And Them” was up next, and featured stellar piano playing by Carin, another tremendous performance on the saxophone by Mello, and fiery fretwork by Gilmour. It received a huge roar from the crowd, and was the highlight of the first set. The new song “In Any Tongue” was up next. Gilmour and Chambers traded off on the song’s lead vocal, and it featured yet more fantastic playing by Gilmour. The first set closed with Pink Floyd’s “High Hopes.” It was a nice choice to end the first set as Gilmour put on a what could be considered a guitar clinic, first on acoustic guitar and then on the console steel guitar. It received extended applause which lasted until the band had left the stage to begin the intermission between the two sets.
Following the interval, Gilmour and his band returned to the stage and gave the audience a real treat to start the second set. They performed the haunting and harrowing “Astronomy Domine” from Pink Floyd’s 1967 debut album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. It was quite something, evoking Pink Floyd’s early, edgy performances. Gilmour’s vocals and fretwork on the song were outstanding. From there, the second set went from strength to strength. Next up was Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V).” The band, particularly Gilmour and Mello on saxophone, were terrific. The crowd sang along quite lustily throughout. They followed that with “Fat Old Sun” from Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother album. Gilmour played both acoustic and electric (Telecaster) guitars during the performance of the song, and it received quite a hand from the audience. After playing “Coming Back To Life” from Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell, Gilmour and the band performed the terrific, bluesy “The Girl In The Yellow Dress” from the new album. Mello’s work on the saxophone during the performance song was absolutely outstanding. The new song “Today” was up next and was buoyed by Gilmour’s scintillating guitar playing. “Sorrow,” from Pink Floyd’s first album without Roger Waters, A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, followed. It’s a bass-heavy song that has Gilmour’s guitar all over it. The crowd loved it. They closed out the second set with the highlight of the show, a rip-roaring, furiously incendiary take on Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell.” The band all donned sunglasses for the performance of “Run Like Hell”, and Gilmour and Pratt traded off lead vocals on the song. They kept ratcheting it up to new heights. It was thrilling to witness. The audience sang along all the way through the song and broke out in a sustained and quite deafening roar at the end.
The encore consisted of three Pink Floyd classics. It began with “Time” and went right into “Breathe (Reprise).” Gilmour and Carin traded off on lead vocals as the audience sang along. The show came to a close with a soaring and emotional version of “Comfortably Numb” on which Gilmour and Carin again shared lead-vocal duties. The crowd sang along at top volume, almost drowning out the vocals coming from the stage.
While Gilmour’s voice is a bit rougher now than it was in his younger days, his phenomenal guitar playing remains as fluid as ever. The show was quite enjoyable, and the audience was very enthusiastic.
Gilmour’s tour resumes on June 25th with a show in Poland and ends with four shows at London’s majestic Royal Albert Hall, the last of which is on September 30th. The European tour includes two shows on July 7th and 8th at the amphitheater in Pompeii, Italy where Pink Floyd made their Live At Pompeii film. Full tour dates can be found at http://www.davidgilmour.com/livedates.htm.
The set list for Gilmour’s Madison Square Garden performance on Tuesday, April 12th was as follows:
Rattle That Lock
Faces Of Stone
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd song)
What Do You Want From Me (Pink Floyd song)
A Boat Lies Waiting
Money (Pink Floyd song)
Us And Them (Pink Floyd song)
In Any Tongue
High Hopes (Pink Floyd song)
Astronomy Domine (Pink Floyd song)
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V) (Pink Floyd song)
Fat Old Sun (Pink Floyd song)
Coming Back To Life (Pink Floyd song)
The Girl In The Yellow Dress
Sorrow (Pink Floyd song)
Run Like Hell (Pink Floyd song)
Time (Pink Floyd song)
Breathe (Reprise) (Pink Floyd song)
Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd song)