The first official review is in - a positively glowing review from the OC Register:David Gilmour soars in Hollywood Bowl show
It’s been a decade since David Gilmour, rock guitar god and singer in the legendary progressive rock band Pink Floyd, last toured, so the sense that this first of three shows in Southern California was an event with a capital E was evident in the high spirits and excited chatter of fans walking up to the Hollywood Bowl on Thursday.
Why he doesn’t play more often is a mystery kept by the 70-year-old Brit who sang most of the hits on classic Pink Floyd albums such as “Dark Side of the Moon” and “Wish You Were Here.”
It’s certainly not that he’s not still making art at a high level – last year’s “Rattle That Lock” is a very fine record, but it too comes after a gap of 10 years or so. It’s definitely not for lack of interest – in addition to Thursday and Friday at the Bowl there’s a Sunday show at the Forum in Inglewood.
And it’s absolutely not from any decline in his formidable talent on the guitar or at the microphone: For 20 songs across three hours on Thursday, Gilmour played and sounded fantastic and fresh on tunes from the most familiar – Pink Floyd’s “Money” or “Comfortably Numb,” for instance – to strong complementary pieces from the new album.
The night opened with a gentle new instrumental, “5 A.M.” to set the mood, Gilmour’s lyrical guitar soaring the swelling synths and crashing cymbals and other fine accents offered up by his sharp nine-piece backing band. “Rattle That Lock,” the title track of the new record and the name of the tour followed, but it’s still clearly Pink Floyd that draws fans to venues of this size, so when the first of those songs arrived the cheers and applause were instant and strong.
That song, “Wish You Were Here,” opened with an acoustic guitar melody by guitarist Phil Manzanera, a veteran of Roxy Music, before Gilmour joined with the song’s second acoustic guitar line and the vocals.
And in hearing it here you’re reminded that no matter how well you know and love a song, to see it and hear it live brings even more joy. Yes, Gilmour reproduced this one and others such as the floating jewel that “Us and Them” as perfectly on stage as you remember them on your old Pink Floyd albums. But once the soloing you remember – say on “Money” – ended, Gilmour often took flight into unexpected realms of sound, his clear, sustained tones always familiar, their direction and destination less so.
The show is also a visual feast as one would expect from a band that might have inspired every planetarium in the land to launch a laser show in the ’70s, and these two Bowl shows had more than the rest of the tour will thanks to lighting designer Marc Brickman and the 30-some projectors he scattered around the venue to beam visuals not only on the huge round screen hung over the players but on all the surfaces of the white band shell as well.
During “Money,” cascades of coins slid down the wide half-circle framing face of the stage. During “Astronomy Domine,” the earlier Pink Floyd song in the set, swirls of light done up like a light show from a hippie hangout in the ’60s slipped over the Bowl walls before a mind-melting burst of intensely vivid red and green lights blasted your retinas and blew your mind. (Surely that wasn’t just me feeling it? Quick look around. Definitely not just me.)
Highlights of the second set in the show included “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V),” Gilmour’s tribute with Pink Floyd to their damaged original band mate Syd Barrett, a beautifully played and sung suite of songs that were performed as a video showed an actor playing out Barrett’s acid-drenched journey through the looking glass.
David Crosby, who’s provided backing vocals on Gilmour’s last few solo records, showed up on stage three times during the night to do the same, including “On An Island,” another late-in-the-show high point.
The final run of songs in the main set went back into full Floydian mode: Pastoral and sweet on “Fat Old Sun” from 1970’s “Animal Heart Mother,” then burning brightly with long guitar solos on “Sorrow,” before wrapping up with “Run Like Hell” from “The Wall,” which built from its opening echo of a beat to a wall of chiming guitars and finale of fireworks synchronized to the music shooting high over the Bowl.
The encore delivered the final two must-hear-must-play Pink Floyd hits, “Time,” from “Dark Side of the Moon,” fans cheering as soon as they heard the ticking of clocks that kicks off the tune, and “Comfortably Numb,” with Crosby back out to sing the parts originally done by Floyd’s Roger Waters, and Gilmour flying higher perhaps than he had all night on solos that are legendary in their recorded versions, and much more so done live and longer on stage.
Then, walking back down the hill to the car, quite happy and comfortably numb, thinking, “Don’t be gone so long next time, Mr. Gilmour.”
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