This week David Gilmour premiered his new spectacular concert film at over 2500 cinemas across the globe. The show was filmed in the Roman amphitheatre last July. Almost to the day 45 years after Pink Floyd filmed their legendary performance. Here’s my review of the screening of David Gilmour Live at Pompeii.
I was very fortunate to see David perform three nights in London’s Royal Albert Hall in September 2015. Although I really didn’t care much for the Rattle That Lock album, see my review here, I was in awe over the shows.
It is no doubt that with this tour, David is now embracing his Pink Floyd legacy to the fullest. You’re taken back to those classic performances and you get a strong feeling of this is where David belong. It needs to be big and bold, with bombs, lasers and beautiful lighting.
I went with a friend at probably the best cinema in Norway. The projecting and sound system is top of the line and did great justice to the film and performance.
The short documentary was nice but I hope it will be longer on the DVD/Blue Ray. It puts you in the right mood and it’s always nice to hear David talk, rather enthusiastically, about the album and the tour.
There were no surprises but it’s always great to watch closeups of his guitars, amps and pedals. Nice presentation of the band members as well.
You can’t really beat the setting and venue. Forget the film from ’71. This is something else and I can only begin to imagine what it must have been like to experience this. They’ve done an amazing job capturing the atmosphere of the place and the performance. You get a real sense of being there, of course the big cinema screen helps, and the beauty of the amphitheatre and its surroundings.
I won’t go into detail on all the songs but there was a number of highlights. The first being What Do You Want From Me. Awesome version and very close to the one on Pulse. David nailed all the little fills and licks, with what sounded like a Tube Driver set for high gain and mostly the neck pickup.
Next was A Boat Lies Waiting. This was presented by David as a tribute to Rick and in the documentary he also talks about how much he misses him and that playing in Pompeii brought back all the memories. A beautiful version, with stellar lap steel and vocal performances.
In Any Tongue really blew me away when I saw them live in 2015 and this version is equally powerful. Not sure I like the chorus part, with the backup singers taking the lead, although I can understand that it’s out of David’s range at this point. Anyway, amazing solo (sounded like a Big Muff with a hint of delay) and it’s great to both hear and see how the band is creating a powerful backing for Gilmour.
One of These Days was phenomenal and I love how they used the old samples and even added the piano throughout the song as heard on the album version. Pratt sounded awesome although I wish he would drop the slapping and use a pick.
Sorrow was probably the high point for me, as it was in 2015. The intro is deadly as hell and the band sounded amazing during the solo, which David nailed to the point with what sounded like a Big Muff. A small detail was Chester Kamen’s dotted eight arpeggios throughout the song.
I must admit that Comfortably Numb is one of those Floyd songs I always skip these days. It’s beaten to death. Still, you can’t beat this end of a show and I still can’t believe that David brought back the old Electric Mistress for this tour. I love that he used it for the verse sections, you can hear that lovely swirl under the vocals, and the solos sounded out of this world. I guess you can always argue whether the actual playing was as good as Pulse or other classic version, but the tone is… I mean, come on!
What I didn’t like was Great Gig in the Sky. It opens beautifully with the piano and David’s slide but the vocal part is a mess. I can understand that David wanted the backing singers to shine and do their own thing but this sounds more like a talent show than a Floyd/Gilmour performance. Where’s Durga?
Time and Breathe (reprise) sounds boring and uninspired. Perhaps it’s because I’ve heard those songs so many times but while David’s guitar sounds huge on Pulse, here it sounds thin, harsh and almost without any sustain.
The UniVibe must be set with a very low intensity setting, which only adds to the harshness, and he also appear to be using a Tube Driver, rather than a Big Muff. This was something I, and many others, commented on during the tour and it doesn’t sound much better here. Why is he using delay on the verse? Sounds messy.
Run Like Hell was one of the high points when I saw the shows. I loved that they did a version close to the album, which brought back the urgency and power of this song. However, seeing everyone up close with shades and running around smiling all the time makes it all look a bit silly. It was a fun gimmick but they should have dropped it after the first leg of the tour. The firework at the end was awesome though!
Understandably, they cut lots of songs from the screening. There was nothing that I really missed and you can get everything on the official releases, but I always enjoy hearing The Blue and I also think that the Money version they did sounded really great.
It’s always difficult to attend these shows or watch them later without comparing it with the stuff you grew up with. I know Delicate Sound of Thunder and Pulse by heart and every little detail is always in the back of my head. Not to mention all the bootlegs.
It can ruin the whole experience if you expect David to play the exact version of a solo that you love but on the other hand, I’m often impressed, which I guess must mean that they have exceeded my hopes and expectations.
David’s voice holds up amazingly well although I assume that they edited some of the more crucial parts from both nights and soundchecks. He plays amazingly well too and overall much better than when I saw him back in 2015.
He always needs a few months to get into the groove, as we also learned on the 2006 On an Island tour, but you can really sense a renewed energy within the band too, which must be inspiring to everyone.
As much as I love Phil Manzanera and Jon Carin, who doesn’t, I think that playing with your friends for too long ins’t necessarily what’s best for the performance. They were beginning to sound a bit uninspired and Chester Kamen (guitar) and Chuck Leavell (keyboards) brings a lot to the table. The band sounds super tight and fresh.
The soundtrack is spectacular. You can clearly hear every detail and nuance and they’ve created a dynamic mix that captures the different moods of each song. David’s guitar sound exactly as I remember it from 2015 and it’s placed quite high in the mix making it cut through nicely.
I had a great time and I can’t wait to get my hands on the full show! Did you attend the screening? What’s your thoughts? Please comment below!
See the Rattle That Lock gear guide for a full run down of David’s guitars, amps and pedals used at Pompeii.