Freed from the shackles of what Pink Floyd has become, David Gilmour sounds positively liberated on his new live DVD, David Gilmour in Concert. The years have snuck up on him, as it inevitably does to all of our heroes, but his voice is even more expressive now than it has ever been. He’s actually becoming more like his long-estranged counterpart Roger Waters, and that’s a good thing, a great thing in fact.
They are both world-weary veterans having finally arrived at similar crossroads in their lives after drifting apart in their not-so-distant youth. Both men’s voices are thinning, sometimes straining to reach notes. While Waters is still the bleeding-heart poet, and Gilmour still the guitar virtuoso, both seem tired of the bloated excesses of the rock n’ roll machine that had welcomed them with open arms all those years ago, instead opting to embrace a more deconstructed approach to performing.
Even moreso than Waters’ latest hits tour, Gilmour has unearthed rarely performed gems and obscure covers, and has re-invented overplayed classics. The result is breathtaking. His take on Syd Barrett’s seminal Terrapin is pure magic, and Dick Parry’s sax solo on Shine On is a freeform revelation. It’s this sense of experimentation that has been missing from Gilmour’s repetoire since he and the Floyd recorded Dark Side. He’s even managed to take his latter-day Floyd tunes into exciting new directions. Take High Hopes for example, what once sounded somewhat inflated and bombastic confined to its awkward Floyd-by-numbers construct, has now taken on a more stripped and organic flavor. Even his lyrics play better without the baggage of the brand name. It’s also wonderful to see Richard Wright, playing Breakthrough from his own Broken China album, sounding relaxed and beautiful.
Much of the beauty of the performances is in the rawness of the sound; often times you can hear each finger slide down the fret, each bend of the string. It’s a clear and pristine recording to be sure, but it’s not sterile and perfect, it’s live, alive. Listening to the 5.1 surround, you could swear Gilmour is just feet away, acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder, entertaining guests at an intimate gathering.
The bonus features are equally rewarding. Gilmour’s cover of “Don’t”, the Leiber and Stoller song made classic by Elvis Presley, is heart-wrenchingly beautiful, and his rendering of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, with Michael Kamen, is sublime.
I was quite frankly shocked at how much I enjoyed this DVD. I’ve already played it more times than I’ve played Waters’ excellent In The Flesh Live. I’d nearly forgotten how definitive Gilmour’s guitar sound is, and how much I missed his voice. It’s truly the sound of a wisened man with nothing to prove, a man no longer haunted by the ghost of Roger Waters. If this release is any indication of things to come, I will be waiting with just as much anticipation for Gilmour’s next solo album as I am for Roger’s, and praying for old friends to make amends.