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Home arrow David Gilmour 2006 arrow May 31st - ROYAL ALBERT HALL, LONDON, ENGLAND

Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall, London
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Concert starts: 8:30pm

Address of venue: Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP. MAP


All three shows at this venue were recorded for a later DVD release. BD tried to count up all the cameras used for the recording. We spotted at least seventeen, so little would have escaped the camera's eye...!

FIRST HALF: Breathe/Time/Breathe Reprise, Castellorizon, On An Island (w/Crosby & Nash), The Blue (w/Crosby & Nash), Red Sky At Night, This Heaven, Then I Close My Eyes (w/Robert Wyatt), Smile, Take A Breath, A Pocketful Of Stones, Where We Start.

SECOND HALF: Shine On You Crazy Diamond (w/Crosby & Nash), Fat Old Sun, Dominoes, Arnold Layne, Coming Back To Life, High Hopes, Great Gig In The Sky (w/Mica Paris), Echoes.

ENCORE: Wish You Were Here (w/Nick Mason), Find The Cost Of Freedom (w/Crosby & Nash), Comfortably Numb (w/Nick Mason).


The first of three nights saw the band on great form, in what felt like a very intimate venue - some of the audience were so close to the stage they could almost touch the musicians! Standouts included Echoes (Richard's keyboard playing was particularly impressive and EXpressive) and On An Island, which had David Crosby beaming from ear to ear like the Cheshire Cat!

The appearance of David Bowie for the final two numbers was a shock to the audience...

The second night featured another special guest appearance - Mica Paris - and a blistering version of Echoes which the band will be hard pressed to better on the final night. Magnificent show again... can they top that on Wednesday?

Seemingly these things are possible to the likes of David and co. The final night was a very special one to go out on. Despite starting an hour later, the show was slightly longer than the preceeding nights! Guests aplenty on this final bash - Crosby, Nash, Wyatt, Mica Paris again, and taking the stage for the encore songs, Nick Mason!

Nick's special touch on WYWH and Comfortably Numb came shining through - not to take anything away from Stevie DiStanislao, who has been consistently excellent throughout the tour - but it's like guitarists; you can tell them apart by their own unique styles of playing.

Our friend Nick Gribben has an insight into the delay: "A college graduation was booked for the afternoon which meant that the stage and all the sundries had to be removed and then replaced after the graduation had finished at 5.30p.m.

"I went to the main door about 6.45p.m as I was going to go to the bar before the concert. The doorman let me in and I went for a look about... I then noticed the Technicians were going through a sound check. I kept watching and at about 7pm the whole band came on stage including Nick Mason (which spoiled the surprise for later). Steve Distanislao went through the drum kit with NM, whilst Rick Wright gave a note perfect rendition of the organ solo at the end of 'A Saucerful of secrets'. The band then ran through parts of 'Then I close my eyes', then with NM on the drums they warmed up with a full version of 'Comfortably numb' and 'Wish you were here', with full lighting effects, David was saving his voice as he wasn't hitting the usual high notes and Polly Samson was on the stage the whole time taking photographs.It was a real privilege with no-one other than technicians in the hall, and gave me a view that you don't usually see.

"When the concert started my seat was right behind the mixing desk where I noticed Nettie Mason and one of Nick's daughters viewing the concert, along with Polly Sampson who would disappear to take photos of the concert."

The tour now goes on hold for a couple of months before heading to Austria for the final(?) stretch. In the meantime, work will be progressed on the DVD of the shows, we're sure. We tried to count the number of cameras recording the show for the DVD, and saw at least 17 of them around the Royal Albert Hall. Impressive!

By Brain Damage contributor, Mark Jardine

Having tried to get hold of tickets for David Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall for a few months, I couldn’t believe it when two became available on Tuesday morning for the Wednesday evening performance in row 4 of the arena – touching distance from the stage. I was feeling incredibly lucky and numb. Work for the next two days suffered as I looked forward to the concert.

The ‘troop’ assembled for this tour draws upon musicians Gilmour has collaborated with at various points in his career. Recognition between talented musicians and their wish to work together has obviously formed the backbone of the band; Richard Wright and Dick Parry are obvious inclusions, both Jon Carin and Guy Pratt have toured twice with Pink Floyd, Stevie DiStanislao smiles every second he is playing the drums and Roxy Music’s Phil ‘el magnifico’ Manzanera lets his guitar do the talking and needs no introduction.

The Albert Hall incredibly provides a very intimate atmosphere for a relatively large venue and the acoustics are second to none. As the lights dimmed for the traditional Breathe / Time intro, the sense of anticipation from the audience was tangible. From the outset the sound was awesome, a top band on top form and all obviously enjoying themselves.

Up next was a rendition of the entire album that David Gilmour fans had been waiting a decade for. Of course, like every devoted fan, I had this since the day of release. I have to admit ‘On an island’ took me a little while to get into, but I find I have grown to appreciate it more and more every time I listen to it. The live performance of the album gives an insight into just how comfortable Gilmour is with his life now – including heartfelt lyrics by his wife Polly Samson, there is an obvious enjoyment and pride in what he has produced. This infectious enthusiasm spread across the stage, with relaxed special guest vocal accompaniment from David Crosby and Graham Nash and a poignant performance by Robert Wyatt on Cornet. How such contrasting tracks as Smile and Take a Breath manage to sit side by side so perfectly is a mystery.

The second half saw some dominant performances of the Pink Floyd classics. Starting with Shine On You Crazy Diamond (backed by Crosby & Nash) into Fat Old Sun. Richard Wright’s part in the Syd Barrett classics Dominoes and Arnold Lane was in a different league. The studio recordings of Coming Back To Life and High Hopes have always been favourites of mine but didn’t seem to have the same impact live – maybe this was due to the truly great songs and performances they were surrounded by. David then introduced Mica Paris whose powerful, graceful voice was perfect for the Great Gig In The Sky.

The highlight of the evening for me was the 25 minutes devoted to Echoes - I have never heard a performance like it. A track that has so many parts and styles to it has got to be a technical nightmare, but the band tied it together seamlessly, taking the audience away with them through the peaks and troughs. At the end the entire Royal Albert Hall were on their feet applauding their rendition of the seminal track.

Before the concert wild rumours had been circulating as to who would show up for the encore performances. David Bowie’s appearance on Monday only fuelled the mill and fanciful talk of a full Pink Floyd reunion was bandied around the message boards. The talk, as it turned out, was not too far off the mark with Nick Mason taking over from Stevie D. on drums to wild applause.

Everyone joined in for Wish You Were Hear with smiles on every face on stage and in the crowd. With no disrespect for the excellent performance throughout the night of Steve DiStanislao, having Nick Mason back on drums seemed right. Next came the vocal only Crosby, Stills & Nash classic ‘Find The Cost Of Freedom’ performed beautifully.

Nothing really more has to be said about Comfortably Numb, every musician on stage could have performed this blindfolded and many had their eyes closed.

The applause and standing ovation lasted for a long time, as will the memories of a great night.

By Brain Damage contributor, Andy Gibbons

Went to Gilmour at the RAH last night (31st) – great show. Contrary to reports this was filmed too, so there were some extra special guests. The set opened with a DSOTM segment – Breathe, Time and Breathe Reprise before settling into the new album.

Crosby and Nash guested on the opening track. Standout songs from ‘Island’ were Take a Breath, which has the feel of a classic Floyd track and packs a much bigger punch live than on the album. Robert Wyatt was the first special guest, playing some great cornet on This Heaven – maybe he could have been given a freer rein as his contribution was only mixed up at the end of the piece.

A Pocketful of Stones was the other highlight of this set for me – Gilmour’s voice has not only held up over the years, he seems to be singing better as he ages!

The Second half was much more Floyd orientated with Echoes being a real show-stopper – excellent playing from Rick who improvised some great organ lines after the ‘birds’ sequence. I hadn’t seen them play this since 1975, but the piece has lost nothing over time : the dry ice and lasers made it a visually stunning experience as well as an epic sonic voyage.

Arnold Layne was a chance for Rick to shine on vocals and Mica Paris strutted her stuff tastefully on Great Gig but the final surprise was waiting in the wings – Nick Mason, who took the drumstool for encores of Wish You Were Here and Comfortably Numb.

Clocking in at three and half hours of music, with other track and guest options from previous nights, it’ll be an interesting job for Dave to edit this one for the DVD!

By Brain Damage contributor, Michael Mason

An excited and expectant crowd of gray and bald heads were treated to a memorable recital of old classics and future favourites at the Albert Hall last night.

The first half of the show mirrored the performances of the previous two nights. Commencing with Breathe, Time and Breathe Reprise accompanied by swirling varilights and a cloud of smoke rivalled only by the one enveloping the Albert Memorial across the street, we were then treated to a run-through of new album 'On an Island'.

This presentation (with slight variation from the CD running order) was interesting and enjoyable from start to finish. Crosby and Nash, Dick Parry and Robert Wyatt wandered on and off to add their embellishments to an album which benefitted greatly from the live rendition in this beautiful and historic venue.

The dying strains of 'Where We Start' provided the cue for a long line of dodgy old prostates to assemble courteously at the gentlemen's facilities. The house lights went on to reveal lots of smiling faces packing a venue which has hosted some of the world's great talents, from The Beatles to John Barry, The LSO to MacEnroe.

David reminisced briefly on his and Rick's previous appearance at the Hall, during which the firing of two Waterloo cannons saw the group banned 'for life' from the venue. "Maybe they didn't recognise us" speculated the guitarist's guitarist. I doubt that.

The evening recommenced with an abridged 'Shine on You Crazy Diamond' to an attentive and delighted throng, wistful and poignant for its stripped down rendition. Fat Old Sun follows then, unbelievably, a fantastic version of Syd Barrett's wonderful 'Dominoes'. "Shall we do another Syd one?", Dave enquires. The crowd's reaction provides an unneccessarily vocal answer and the band launch themselves into 'Arnold Layne' which the band obviously enjoy performing greatly.

The Division Bell supplies the next two tracks, 'Coming Back To Life' and a faultless 'High Hopes' and then the night's first guest, Mica Paris, is whisked onstage to deliver 'Great Gig In The Sky'. For me, her clear unfamiliarity with the track and surprisingly narrow range do the song no favours and provide only a pale reminder of the truly goose-bump inspiring Clare Torry original.

The second half concludes with a breathtaking 'Echoes', the high point of the tour for many. The lighting system is put through its paces during this strange and captivating chronological precursor to 'Dark Side Of The Moon'. Wonderful stuff.

The great surprise of the night, and surely the whole tour, is the appearance of Nick Mason to play the encores. Nick is on much more confident form than on the Live8 performance and adds the finishing touch to 'Wish You Were Here', 'Find The Cost of Freedom' and, inevitably, 'Comfortably Numb' which closes the show. Early reports suggest Roger Waters was in attendance too. If that's true it's a shame he didn't make an appearance, but hopefully will have managed to convince Dave and Rick to show up at Magny Cours!

Storm Thorgurson also attended the latter part of the show. Curiouser and curiouser. Dave's recent comments about Pink Floyd being a thing of the past have now been proved to have been false, if the three-part version on show here tonight are to be considered as much PF as the band on the last two albums to bear that name. As speculative as the next PF fan, I think things are looking good for Bastille Day. Surely if Dave signs up then Nick will follow. But, I digress.

Last night's show was a real treat all round, for many reasons, and I pray that we have not seen the last of these polite and refined old men who continue to enrich our lives in ways that words cannot express.

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