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DAVID GILMOUR Live In Pompeii   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The last hurrah?

At 70, David Gilmour is already older than David Bowie ever was. And that, at this point in his life, Gilmour has nothing he needs to prove to anyone. Even if you were the type of person with something to prove, he's done that already. “Live at Pompeii” might be his final statement, and as such, it's a glorious reminder – and capturing – of an artist nearing the end with is powers intact.

There's a broad selection of both newer solo songs and classic Pink Floyd songs, as well as (on the deluxe edition) a wealth of extra documentary material. Visually it is immaculate and sonically precise and exact.

There's a knowledge in every moment, even if only felt for the briefest moment before quenched, that this – whatever it is – good and bad, won't last. And so, whilst in the moment, it feels like this could happen a thousand times again, I know it won't. The end is nearer than the beginning. But here, on film, it will last forever.

With a set built on the majority of the most recent album “Rattle That Lock”, Gilmour is moving gracefully into a new, reflective phase of his life, where names move out of address books, where the knowledge is there is less ahead than behind. But with this, Gilmour also articulates it with the kind of fascinating depth few others do.

We have Chester Kamen on guitar and Greg Phillganes on keyboards. Chester, in particular, is a perfect fit : a lively, and clearly engaged player who compliments him completely, switching effortlessly between lead and rhythm, and also chosen by the exacting Roger Waters as guitar player : being chosen by two members of Floyd to play in their solo bands is a high accolade.

The sound is solid, the performance valid, and ultimately, it feels more like Gilmour's solo band – whereas the 2006 live line up was barely removed from the final touring period of Pink Floyd. Even though that band may no longer exist, there is still much of their spirit and style here, there's a connection between this now and that then, between the fact that Gilmour is playing note-perfect, emotionally correct versions of songs from all periods of Pink Floyd's career with flair and wit : during a barnstorming “One Of These Days”, which has only been performed a handful of times since The Floyd's end as a touring unit, the fluency with which this 70 year old man dispatches songs he wrote when he was 25 is glorious.

What is also not insignificant is that the set is stuffed with the newer stuff – older, wiser, and more mature, more considered and thoughtful – the sound of a man inside his time moving with an awareness of not only his own mortality, but also of the position one has within one's own life and the life of others. Several songs from his latest album fit effortlessly into the set, as do the majestic “The Blue” and the title track from “On An Island”. It's music that stands the test of time because its taken time to make.

Musically as well, as with everything Gilmour touches, there's an elegant precision that betrays an enormous amount of thought, a taste, around which every song appears to have a large number of options explored, and every step that's taken is the perfect, and best one, of all the options, if anything, it's around … an unhurried consideration of the choices and the most enduring one being taken.

It may seem like nothing very much, but blistering takes on the relatively obscure “Fat Old Sun” to the crescendo of “Comfortably Numb” - of seeing a happy and comfortable Gilmour bashing drums or playing clarinet or merely peeling out precise solos – is like seeing a magician in front of you. These may only be guitars and instruments, but they are tools to build new worlds. If this is the final Gilmour live document, then it stands equal to anything from his career.

The time is gone. The song is over. Thought I'd have something more to say.

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