Does the world need another Gilmour live album? Released hard on the heels of the ‘Remember that night’ DVD, Live in Gdansk captures Gilmour performing in front of a huge Polish audience in the Gdansk shipyards to celebrate the Solidarity movement which helped to end Communism in that country. Turning in an astonishingly tight performance with a band featuring members of Pink Floyd (the late Richard Wright), the Floyd’s touring band (Jon Carin, Dick Parry and Guy Pratt) and Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera and The Baltic Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra conducted by Zbigniew Preisner (who created the orchestration for Gilmour’s On an island record), Gilmour powers through a set that contains classic Floyd material alongside his On an Island record in its entirety.
Starting with a classic quartet from Floyd’s classic Dark side of the moon album is a brave move and yet it is a testament to Gilmour’s song writing ability that the newer material from his solo work sits comfortably alongside it and receives equally rapturous response from the crowd. Gilmour is in fine voice throughout and it is nice to see Rick Wright handling vocals on various songs, especially given his untimely death very shortly after this release hit the shelves: this serves as a fitting memorial to that quietly talented man.
The material from On an Island sounds absolutely fantastic, particularly when coupled with a live orchestra and songs ‘On an island’, ‘This heaven’ and the awe-inspiring ‘take a breath’ are given new life in this setting (on the DVD, ‘Take a breath’ halts in a miasma of feedback while the screens show images of Solidarity riots in one of the show’s more poignant moments) while the second act’s ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’ is eclipsed by a mesmerising performance of ‘Echoes’ a lengthy song which still manages to pass in the blink of an eye. A consummate performer, Gilmour never appears lost in all this wonder, and appears far more at ease than he did on his first DVD which saw him performing acoustic at the Royal Festival Hall in 2002. The song selection is perfect and the show-closing ‘Comfortably numb’ with Wright once more taking lead vocals, still hasn’t lost its power.
The DVD (there are actually five different versions, but for your money, the best value package is probably the 3 disc edition) offers a slightly edited version of the performance (missing out the Dark side songs at the opening, ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’, ‘Fat old sun’ and ‘wish you were here’ all of which appear on the Albert Hall DVD anyway) with clear sound and decent camera work which captures the night perfectly, without adding pointless effects or frills. There’s also a documentary for those interested in learning a little more about the concert and about the event (the highlight is David rather uncomfortably dashing aside an enquiry about Waters) and a web link to exclusive bonus content. The CDs contain the full performance and, as one would expect, the recording is flawless. So, does the world need another Gilmour live record? On this evidence the answer is a resounding YES! The orchestra enhances the tracks (particularly ‘Comfortably numb’ and ‘A great day for freedom’), the playing is rock solid and for Floyd fans it is a chance to see Richard Wright on stage for the last time which is both uplifting and enormously sad. A remarkable souvenir of a remarkable evening. Superb.