Saturday, 1 October 2016

Live Review: David Gilmour - Royal Albert Hall 30/09/2016

First off, I would like to start this review by saying how much I love the Royal Albert Hall. Yesterday was only my 3rd visit to the venue (and first for over 3 years) but I had forgotten just how good of a venue it is. All 3 times I have been, I’ve been in gallery standing up the top. I do need to experience something from lower in the bowl at some point. It was the perfect surrounding for the evening’s entertainment. David Gilmour was playing the last date on the “Rattle That Lock” world tour which saw him play at the Royal Albert Hall 11 times over two years. The setlist on previous nights had a decent helping of Gilmour’s solo material but the majority of it consisted of Pink Floyd songs. Whilst I really like the Rattle That Lock album, I was really looking forward to seeing Pink Floyd songs performed live by one of the people in the band again. I saw The Wall performed at Wembley Stadium by Roger Waters, which was phenomenal.

The evening was set to be broken up into two sets, with a short interval in the middle. The first set kicked off with 3 songs from Rattle That Lock. Hearing the songs live gave me a whole new appreciation for these songs which I already liked. Not that the crowd as a whole weren’t into these three songs, but there was a significant increase in volume whenever a Pink Floyd song was played. The first of these was What Do You Want From Me, which is a great song. This was followed by The Blue – another solo track from the album On An Island and then The Great Gig In The Sky – which got a massive roar of approval from the crowd. Another song from Rattle That Lock – A Boat Lies Waiting – followed which was good. What followed this was one of my highlights of the night. Back to back Pink Floyd classics in the form of Wish You Were Here and Money. Wish You Were Here provided the first loud sing along of the night and the crowd had barely calmed down afterwards before roaring again when the introduction to Money kicked in. This section was certainly one of my top two moments of the gig. Were you to put a gun to my head and demand to know my favourite Pink Floyd song, it is possible I would say one of these two. To hear them both back to back? Awesome. The instrumental section of Money was longer than it is on record, which sometimes can be annoying but not on this occasion. The saxophone player in particular was just superb. The first set ended with another Rattle That Lock song – In Any Tongue – and High Hopes from The Division Bell. The first set was, put simply, stunning.

The second set opened with a real cross section of Pink Floyd material – One Of These Days, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V), Fat Old Sun and Coming Back To Life. It was great to hear a real mix of Floyd like this – Shine On You Crazy Diamond was another moment where the crowd really got into the performance. This is a part where my memory is letting me down slightly. I know after the four Pink Floyd songs, there were 3 more solo tracks played. The Girl in the Yellow Dress is not often on the set list but it was last night. I’m looking at other set lists and it has the Pink Floyd song Us And Them on. I can’t remember if we got that as well, or if we got The Girl in the Yellow Dress as a replacement. I’m sure someone out there knows. Regardless, I really enjoyed this part of the set – particularly as I wasn’t expecting to hear The Girl in the Yellow Dress. Towards the end of Today, another song from Rattle That Lock, the crowd really livened up – to the point I wondered if I had missed something as they hadn’t got that lively for a song that wasn’t a Pink Floyd song all night. Today is a superb song though so maybe that is why. The second set concluded with two Pink Floyd songs, Sorrow (one I’m not overly familiar with) and Run Like Hell – which was immense. It was one of my highlights when I saw Roger Waters and was one again last night.

Gilmour and the band came out for an encore to close out the night. The room got very loud again when the introduction to Time started. The end of Time blended in nicely with a bit of Breathe, which was really cool. The last song of the night was Comfortably Numb – another one of my highlights from when I saw Waters. It was better last night than it was at Wembley Stadium. I think Gilmour singing the chorus is vital to that song when performed live and no disrespect to the guy in Roger Waters’ band, but Gilmour he is not. Earlier in the tour, Benedict Cumberbatch came out to sing the Roger Waters parts of the song which must have been cool to see. This encore was probably my favourite part of the set due to the inclusion of Comfortably Numb – a predictable but epic closer.

I bought my ticket for this gig in December last year, and it exceeded all expectations I had for the gig. Were I to rank my top 3 highlights of the gig, it would all be Pink Floyd songs. That is not to take anything away from the solo material though – as there was never a moment when a solo song was being performed that I wished it would be over. It is just, in my experience, always great to hear Pink Floyd songs being performed live by someone that was in Pink Floyd. I’ve made reference to the Roger Waters Wembley Stadium show but I am not going to say which gig was better as they were entirely different experiences. What I will say though is that last night was just outstanding, and I am glad I was there to see it. Would I have enjoyed it more being sat down closer to the stage? Possibly. Being stood up at the top didn’t ruin it at all for me though, which is a good thing.