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Live8 Reunion - two months on, some thoughts Print E-mail

By Brain Damage contributor Joolz

Pink Floyd at Live 8
Pink Floyd at Live 8
July 2nd, 2005
I've been thinking back to Live8, some two months later, and musing...

It has been a while now since The Public Reconciliation, and, no doubt, we have all relived those 22-ish minutes thanks to the wonders of modern technology. From this distance I think I can now appreciate far more not only the achievement of producing an (almost) flawless performance, complete with recorded elements and visuals, in such a short space of time, but also the impact they made at the climax to the show.

I am not a great one for reading newspapers, but it seemed that, for a week or two after the show, almost everywhere I turned there was talk of Pink Floyd, much of it poorly researched and inaccurate of course. And PF ‘fans’/’experts’ suddenly popped out of the woodwork: I remember a chap at work criticising the track listing, particularly the lack of Another Brick until I pointed out its lyrics were probably inappropriate to the occasion! "Oh, oh, I didn’t think of that...!" Oh, and apparently, Paul McCartney closed the show but I barely noticed!

So, what are we to make of it all now, several weeks later? First of all, did it make a difference to world poverty? Hmm... It certainly helped, as part of Live8, to raise peoples’ perception and awareness of the problem. And much was made of the appropriateness of reconciling warring factions for this just cause. But there has to be some doubt as to whether any real material benefit accrued.

And now that all the hoo-hah has died down, what are we to make of Floyd and Floydians-past-and-present? I have read the comments posted by fans to BD, and I have trawled the forums. The majority offer an uncritical ‘tears in my eyes’ (me too!)/’wasn’t it wonderful’ (yes, it was!) reaction, together with a clamour for more (erm ...!).

A few sniffed out some subtleties: one guy noticed far more of the interplay between Waters and Gilmour than I originally did, suggesting that maybe relations were not quite as cordial as the smiling faces would have us believe; another questions the role of the backing musicians and the psychology behind the decision to hide them, particularly Carin and Renwick - there were 8 musicians on that stage but only 4 names ever get mentioned.

So what now? Is there a future? Do we have any right to expect one? What if Gilmour cranks up the machine again and tours, with or without Waters – same old stuff all over again. Been there, done that, bought the airplane! Why would they want to? And why would we, the fans, want to see them rehashing past glories just for the sake of it? Personally, I would not like to see them reduced to living in the past like so many of the old-timers. Some fans mention the idea of starting up a petition to persuade them to tour: please, no, no, no, don’t do it, let it rest there. Unless ...

Tucked away in one or two messages where it can hardly be noticed is that little word ‘create’! Now that would be different! What if the boys could actually create something new together, to co-operate on something truly ‘Floydian’? Would it be possible? It seems to me that Waters (in particular) has bent over backwards a considerable distance in order for the Live8 thing to happen, but for the relationship to continue would require far more ‘give’ from the Gilmour side. Not impossible, I suppose, but why should either of them want to do that?

I didn’t think so at the time, but it seems to me now that the true spirit of PF left with Waters and flowed into his ‘solo’ albums, particularly Radio KAOS and Amused to Death: of course, they lack Gilmour’s musicality and liquid guitar, but to my mind they contain far more ‘essence of Floyd’ than Momentary Lapse or Division Bell (I like the latter pair, but they don’t ‘feel’ like true Floyd).

It’s been 25 years since they last truly created together (on The Wall) and each has developed his own little niche in the great scheme of things. In particular, Waters is still very creative as a solo artist, with his own established non-Floydian infrastructure – what would be the point of turning his back on that? Money? Fame? Fifteen years ago perhaps it might have made sense: Waters then was struggling outside the PF umbrella, and Gilmour was still ‘in the mood’. But not now – Waters may not be a household name but he seems to be doing pretty well, while Gilmour is, well, not ‘in the mood’.

But could they do it together? Perhaps, but I doubt it. It is well known that the split occurred because Waters became increasingly more autocratic and dictatorial, a style of working which obviously suits a solo artist. But, in order to sustain PF during those Waters-less years, Gilmour assumed the mantle of sole leadership, leading them on to global conquest. Could you see Gilmour going back to being Waters’ singer, guitarist and arranger? No, neither can I.

But, if the unthinkable happened, and somehow they did manage to create together again, would the result be worthy? Well, probably, yes I believe it would because, musically, the balance of Waters’ creativity and Gilmour’s musicianship is still intact. Both have still ‘got it’. The result probably would be good, but not everyone would agree and it could turn into a disaster, a damp squib, a distinctly un-fitting way to end.

One final point: some fans seem to think that, somehow, ‘they’ owe ‘us’ something. Well, sorry, but they don’t owe me anything. Quite the reverse in fact. I owe them a debt of gratitude for all the wonderful and thought-provoking music they have created, both collectively and individually, over the years. Uniquely, in my experience, each of their albums is a complete and self-contained entity, with it’s own clearly defined identity, while still being quintessentially of PF. Whether it be Piper, Saucerful, AHM, Meddle, Obscured, DSOTM, WYWH, Animals, The Wall, or Final Cut: they are all soooo different, yet they could only have ever been made by Pink Floyd.

In my humble opinion, July 2nd 2005 should be the day Pink Floyd went out in a blaze of glory ["... a great way to go out", " ... a graceful and worthy goodbye", " ... almost the perfect fairy-tale ending" – from some of your emails]. The end of the reality – now let the legend live.

It was glorious. Let Live8 be it’s fitting end.

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