Last night I once again had the privilege of seeing one of my all-time musical heroes, Mr David Gilmour. Last time I saw him was in the Royal Albert Hall on his “On An Island” tour. This time the venue was Leicester Square Odeon for the launch of his concert DVD from the Albert Hall gig. So there goes me, paying to see the same gig twice again.
One thing I love about Gilmour is that in spite of being one of the most famous rock guitarists ever, he's just so casual and understated. TO kick off the DVD screening he appeared bathed in a blue downlight in front of the screen making his guitar wail like a banshee to a frothing crowd. Then without the slightest bit of rock histrionics he left the stage and let the DVD get on with it.
I reckon I'll get a copy of the DVD when it comes out on release, as it was a top gig containing some great arrangements of the Floyd stuff, as well as the tracks from the new album which mostly makes me think of the phrase “Mr Dave 'Cool as a f*cking cucumber' Gilmour” in description of it. There was a stonking version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, a section of which featured just DG & his guitar, David Crosby & Graham Nash harmonising, and Rick Wright tinkering away on keys. Markedly absent was the bombastic grandeur of the Delicate Sound of Thunder tour; like I said, Gilmour seems to work best understated.
The venue was fitted out with the requisite lasers – I swear that DG must have bought shares in a laser manufacturing company, cos he's always got them – bouncing off floor mounted mirrors, so there was a sense of them having gone the extra yards to complete the experience rather than just shutting us in a room to eyeball the movie. The event was held simultaneously in cinemas around the country via some kind of video linkup – one interesting thing was that after every song, where you'd normally applaud, it was as if the producers weren't sure if a crowd would applaud a projection screen, so they just ramped up the cinema surround sound system and amped the recorded applause. A neat trick I thought, because not only did it encourage people in the crowd to clap, but it probably made it seem to the cameras that the venue was absolutely heaving.
Some more random thoughts on it: I'm constantly amazed at the way Gilmour can wrench so much emotion out of a guitar line, when to look at him he's just staring off into the middle distance with a look that you could mistake for boredom. Though the DVD was of excellent quality (you could even read the labels on the knobs of his guitar), it was obvious to me that it wasn't designed for large scale projection, as at that size there were patches with loads of video artifacts… but it would be perfect on a domestic telly. There's a section from the first night of the concert series where David Bowie comes out on stage & sings Arnold Layne with the band – again, the picture quality's so sharp that at a reasonable distance you can clearly make out his different coloured eyes.
Following the film screening we were treated to a bit of Q&A with David, with the bulk of questions coming from the David Gilmour website fan club. The questions were pretty well as you'd expect – one guy asked “What are the 3 tips or tricks you'd suggest to anyone starting out to become a guitar player?”, to which Dave answered in his usual down to earth manner, “Well firstly I'd buy a guitar”. Another punter asked if there was anything about home Dave wished he could take on tour, to which he responded with a fairly philosophical argument about the tour being one type of space, and then escaping that space and regaining one's freedom was what coming home meant, and you can't really take that with you. The compere snapped it back to a more sound-biteable “What are 3 things from England that you take with you because you can't get them on tour?”, to which Dave replied “Well we always take a big box of PG Tips – you just can't get good teabags in America”. Brilliant – one of Britain's rich list & rock's most adored figures can't function without a good cup of tea.
Following the Q&A there were a few anecdotes about the touring show; I was most taken by the story of the Siberian bloke who was busking in Venice playing wine glasses that Dave & Polly saw when they were walking around, and Polly convinced Dave to get him to play in the show that night… so Shine On had a wineglass intro.
Finally David stood up and said “Well I guess all that remains now is for us to have a bit of a jam – luckily there happened to be some musicians floating about backstage…”, at which point some of his band came out & started jamming, with the keys being finally taken by Mr Rick Wright, and Dick Parry popped out with his sax! “A few musicians”, my arse.
Anyway, good time had by all.