Is Pink Floyd fading in David Gilmour’s rearview mirror? It’s something many fans struggle with — the end of Pink Floyd — but his performance on Remember That Night, a two-DVD live set from the Royal Albert Hall in London, confirms that the guitarist can do without the extra baggage and bloated excess that comes with serving the mighty Floyd legacy. After releasing On An Island in 2006 and embarking on a low-key tour, Gilmour seemed eager to explore other, neglected portions of the Floyd songbook he avoided during the mammoth tours of the 80s and 90s, while building on a catalog of his own. For all intents and purposes, the tour was as good, if not better, than any Pink Floyd tour since the 70s.
To make the shows much easier, Gilmour surrounded himself with a strong support team. Hiring Richard Wright, Pink Floyd’s keyboardist, may seem like a calculated, almost deceptive move that counters the whole “solo” angle. Yet it’s a joyous sight to see how rejuvenated and happy Wright is as a member of the band. Not only did he contribute immensely to On An Island, but his presence on the tour gave Gilmour the freedom to touch on long-lost nuggets like “Echoes” and “Arnold Layne” with bona fide authority. Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera, bassist Guy Pratt, Keyboardist Jon Carin, saxophonist Dick Parry, and drummer Steve DiStanislao rounded out the lineup that trooped around the world with Gilmour, culminating with the two gigs at the Royal Albert Hall.
Gilmour pulled out all the stops in London and invited a few special guests to join him. David Crosby and Graham Nash, who sang on On An Island and popped up at a few shows in the States, were shoe-ins. Robert Wyatt, the original drummer for Soft Machine and a close friend of Gilmour’s, comes out to play some trumpet, while none other than David Bowie turns up for “Arnold Layne” and “Comfortably Numb.” The set was also punctuated with a performance of the entire On An Island album, and Floyd classics like “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” “Fat Old Sun” and “Wish You Were Here.”
To appreciate the full scale of the tour, one only needs to refer to the second disc. A video travelogue shows how high the spirits were for Royal Albert Hall, as well as other gigs in Europe. Rehearsals receive an extra boast when it’s revealed that Roger Waters is in the next building prepping for his own tour. During a break, Gilmour and Waters exchange pleasantries before the cameras and then sadly return to their respective rehearsals. Elsewhere, the shows in Venice are especially poignant given the fact that they were cancelled due to faulty staging, only to be rescheduled during a grueling rain storm. The show must go on.
Mostly, however, is the tension-free camaraderie between the players, friends and family members in attendance. If all tours were like this, they’d probably never end. Disc two boasts additional performances (including some incredible rehearsal footage of Gilmour bending a few notes on a gold Les Paul), footage of the On An Island recording sessions, and the requisite photo gallery and visual swag DVD fans clamor for. The bottom line: Remember That Night is a beautiful, well-conceived package you won’t soon forget.