‘In Concert’ – David Gilmour (DVD Review)

I should declare a bias here. I’m a Syd Barrett girl and thus everything Pink Floyd related is going to be bounced off against the story and input of its original singer. I have a terrible tendency to see the other members of the band as two dimensional characters, stereotyped into how they allegedly interacted with Syd. Hence my first glance at the track-listing here read it as: 2 Syd covers, 3 songs about
Syd by Pink Floyd and some other stuff.

Buy David Gilmour ‘In Concert’ from Amazon

Rather than repeating it throughout, this album differs from other Pink Floyd related collections, because it is largely acoustic. Only very occasionally does David Gilmour get out his electric guitar. Overall,
they are far more laid-back version of standard classics.

1 Shine on you Crazy Diamond

For those more used to Roger Waters’s emotional singing (Syd Barrett, with impeccable timing, actually walked into the studio as he was about to lay down the lyrics; the first time any of them had seen him for years), the first time of listening takes you aback. David Gilmour gives it the light, airy feel that many of us naturally assumed that the first one had, given the amount of times it’s used as a chill out tune. He sounds vunerable.

2 Terrapin

Gilmour delivers a Syd Barrett cover, from the ‘Madcap Laughs’ album, with polished finesse. This, as with a later cover of ‘Dominoes’, is how Syd might have played it without the intensity and slipping sanity. It actually sounds like a love song, in Gilmour’s version, as opposed to the raw desperation of Syd’s version.

There’s a school of thought that says, if you are to cover a song, you should alter it in some way to make it your own. Gilmour doesn’t alter the arrangement of ‘Terrapin’, but he makes it utterly his own with that
polished perfection.

3 Fat Old Sun

There’s a Sunday afternoon feel to this song, which first appeared on the ‘Atom Heart Mother’ album. It drifts along airily, evoking open fields and corn. Beautifully done, but not very different from the

4 Coming Back to Life

‘Coming Back to Life’, from ‘The Division Bell, is the first time in this album where it occurs to you that David Gilmour has feelings too. He’s way too often portrayed, particularly amongst the Barrett fans, as the cavalry; the saner, calmer rescuer, who’ll protect Syd against the world and the evils of, say, Roger Waters. He’s not supposed to be anything other than the unshakeable hero. However, his lyrical rendering here shows a little of the human being behind all of that.

The backing singers sound like a gospel choir. The song soars into an anthem of hope, ultimately dedicated to his ‘lovely wife, Polly’, about how he was picked up and cared for too.

5 High Hopes

Usually for the arrangements included on ‘In Concert’ thus far, ‘High Hopes’ sounds darker and slightly slower than the usual version. I got goosebumps listening, which I’ve never got from its counterpart on ‘The Division Bell’. Yet, from the darkness, it claws up through the coda listing his assets, ‘I’ve got my friends’ is a note which signals a rise in tone. By the end, the feeling is that it’s going to be alright. I
never got any of that from the original.

6 Je Crois Entendre Encore

The song is sung in French, so I haven’t a clue what it’s all about, but the atmosphere is misty. Whether it’s the language or the style, I’m put in mind of a male Edith Piaf, though not as scratchy as you tend to think of her songs. Very slow, with violins, and deep bass notes, it doesn’t need to be understand to be enjoyable.

Ah! It’s from Bizet’s opera, ‘The Pearl Fisher’. He says so at the end.

7 Smile

This was a new song by David Gilmour. Another which evokes a Sunday afternoon, gently played, softly sung, hopeful. The ethos is, ‘you’re sad, but it’s ok; it’s going to be even more ok when I’ve made it back
to your smile’.

8 Wish You Were Here

Another of the better known Pink Floyd songs, which, as David Gilmour played and sang on it for the band, there’s no real difference between the usual rendering and this.

That is until halfway through, when it suddenly becomes even richer in soundscape than the original. There’s real passion in the ‘we’re just two lost souls’ segment, which dips away abruptly, but not jarringly, into a more fractured sound. It really does feel like loss then, which, of course, reassures the hardened Barrett people like myself.

9 Comfortably Numb

We’re used to Waters singing here, sneeringly; Robert Wyatt, as guest singer, hisses and sounds sinister, but doesn’t quite reach the Machiavellian depths of Waters’s version. Of course, when it reaches the ‘there is no pain, you are receding’ refrain, we’re back on familiar territory. Gilmour always sang this bit.

‘Comfortably Numb’ is basically the repeating in song of a conversation between Barrett, Water and Gilmour, around a kitchen table one night. Where Syd tried to explain how he was feeling, shortly before the rest
of Pink Floyd stopped picking him up for concerts.

Throughout, Wyatt never quite pulls off the sinister parts; but Gilmour sings Syd’s responses with all the beauty and pathos that we’ve come to expect. He makes madness seem like a wonderful place to escape into.

10 Dimming of the Day

This song wouldn’t seem out of place performed by an Irish folk singer. It’s folksy and Irish. It’s lovely.

11 A Great Day for Freedom

A great tour through an old classic, which neither adds nor detracts from the original on ‘The Division Bell’ album.

This is fine, because both versions are great.

12 Hushabye Mountain

It’s a lullaby. This is how rock singers hush their kids to sleep.

13 Dominoes

The second cover of a Syd Barrett song and the whole reason that I decided to do this review. It’s an obscure song, off the ‘Barrett’ album, but one which the like of Robin Hitchcock (the celebrity fan most often interviewed in Syd documentaries), Dougie Fields (Syd’s housemate) and myself have stated over time is Syd’s best song. There’s too much background to it, in my own life, to objectively review it and my first reaction on spotting this on the track listing was, ‘He’s covered WHAT?!’

The first intrepid listening, laden with encroaching dread, ended with my sitting back going, ‘wow’. Then listening again and again and again. Syd’s version pretty much goes along the wistful lines of, ‘we’re fucked and the only thing we can do is surrender in that knowledge, then hope like Hell that someone comes to get us.’ I play it in days when it all goes a little strange, because Syd sings to me that this is known territory and there’s someone to hold my hand until the cavalry arrives. David Gilmour’s version is the cavalry arriving.

He sings the ‘don’t you want to see my proof’ lyrics as one not feeling them, but having heard and repeating back to prove he’s heard and understood; before launching into a piano cacophony of sound, that lifts ‘Dominoes’ onto a safer plane and us with it. He allows that happier sound to repeat to fade. It’s not going away. Help came.

For this song alone, this album should be bought.

14 Breakthrough

A song from Rick Wright’s solo album, ‘Broken China’, and the man himself is brought on as a guest singer, also playing the synth during it. The crowd are heard to go wild in welcome, which, for Pink Floyd fans, is a heartening sound, as he is the second most fragile bandmember in their history.

I am unfamiliar with the song, but it’s delivered with a passion and finesse which makes me want to hear more. Pure Gilmour is unleashed on electric guitar partway through, which I’m sure couldn’t have been in
the original.

Submitted by valued contributer Mab

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