The Pink Floyd NYC Takeover, which included a superior Brit Floyd show at the Beacon Theater on Friday April 8, an intimate literary salon featuring David Gilmour and wife Polly Samson at Liberty Hall at the Ace Hotel on Saturday April 9, a David Gilmour show at the less intimate Radio City on Sunday April 10, and a whopper of a David Gilmour show at Madison Square Garden on Monday April 11, finally wraps up this evening with David Gilmour's second and final gig at Madison Square Garden. I caught most of the action, including a blistering and truly mesmerizing three-hour set by Pink Floyd coveristas Brit Floyd, but for me the weekend was all about David Gilmour.
Saturday's Damian Barr’s Literary Salon at the tiny basement space Liberty Hall at the Ace Hotel boasted two authors and a "special guest." As one of the authors is David Gilmour's wife and primary post-Waters Pink Floyd lyricist, and as David had three shows in NYC immediately following the salon, it wasn't difficult to deduce who the special guest was going to be. And by the queue of people waiting to enter the space, Pink Floyd memorabilia in hand, and the gaggle of people begging for anyone's extra ticket, it appeared many people had also rightly figured it out. I was sat in the front row just a few seats away from my hero and my reason for picking up a guitar over 25 years ago, David Gilmour. But Liberty Hall is tiny; so tiny that it didn't matter where you were sitting; any seat had you mere feet away from one of rock and roll's biggest living icons.
Host Damien Barr kicked things off by having Polly Samson read a bit from her novel The Kindness, followed by an interview and Q&A. After that he brought up writer Jonathan Lee who read from his fantastic (and seriously Klaus Recommended) work High Dive which was also followed by an interview and Q&A. After a brief intermission Barr brought up Gilmour and Samson for a very enlightening talk about how the two work together on a creative level. David often produces near finished "scat" tracks, which are songs with essentially completed instrumentations with the sound of his voice "scatting" the wordless vocal melodies. It is then Polly's job to listen to those sung melodies and their phrasing to invent the lyrics. The result of this process has produced what you hear on Pink Floyd's The Division Bell, as well as Gilmour's solo efforts On and Island and Rattle That Lock. David even played some of these scat tracks from his iPhone. It was not only an interesting look into David's creative process, but it was also a rare glimpse into their adorable life together as an obviously happy and adorable couple.
I then caught David's epic, career-spanning, nearly three hour set at Madison Square Garden on April 11 and, boy, was it a doozie. With a career that began in earnest in 1967 with Pink Floyd, creating a setlist that will hit all the marks for fans has got to be a pretty daunting endeavor. But last night's set absolutely nailed all the important career moments. Gilmour and co. played some of the obvious crowd and radio favorites like "Wish You Were Here", "Money," "Shine on You Crazy Diamond", "Time", and "Comfortably Numb," but they also peppered the set with some surprising choices, including one of my favorites "Fat Old Sun" from Pink Floyd's 1970 masterpiece Atom Heart Mother, psychedelic ripper "Astronomy Domine" from their pre-Gilmour 1967 debut The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, as well as the gloomy "Sorrow," a song that I thought me and maybe seven other people actually like, from Pink Floyd's 1987, post-Waters semi-dud A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
Some of the newer Samson-era Division Bell Floyd material was also performed and sounded unbelievable. Ballad "High Hopes," with it's signature meandering extended slide guitar solo that closes out the song, sounded absolutely beautiful and dramatic. Songs from his new and quite good solo effort Rattle That Lock were tastefully and smartly inserted into the setlist in a way that the show's momentum or mood never suffered. Opening with tracks "5am," "Rattle That Lock," and "Faces of Stone," was a great way to lead into a Pink Floyd "Wish You Were Here" and "What Do You Want From Me" one-two punch, and he employed this smart integration of the new stuff throughout the set. Setlists for MSG and Radio City only differed by one song ("On an Island" at RC; "The Girl in the Yellow Dress" at MSG). MSG setlist is below.
Backed by an incredible touring band including Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera, bassist Guy Pratt (see him Wednesday at the Slipper Room), keyboardist/vocalist/guitarist Jon Carin (who also tours with Roger Waters), drummer Steve DiStanislao, keyboardist Kevin McAlea, sax player João Mello, and a three piece vocal group, the band at times sounded absolutely massive and anthemic, while at other times they sounded incredibly intimate. And with a massive circular LED screen and more lights and lasers than your brain can possibly handle, the show had me on absolute sensory overload. Now 70, I wonder how many tours Gilmour still has left in him. I cannot recommend the experience enough, so if you can swing it, go to tonight's final NYC show because you never know... it could be your last chance forever (update: that show happened, and it was the same setlist as the night before).
Here are pictures from Radio City and MSG:
A few fan-shot videos, along with the MSG setlist, below.
SETLIST: DAVID GILMOUR : MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, APRIL 11 & 12 2016
Rattle That Lock
Faces of Stone
Wish You Were Here
What Do You Want From Me
A Boat Lies Waiting
Us and Them
In Any Tongue
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)
Fat Old Sun
Coming Back to Life
The Girl in the Yellow Dress
Run Like Hell
Setlists for both nights at MSG and Radio City only differed by one song ("On an Island" at RC; "The Girl in the Yellow Dress" at both MSG shows)