It has long amused me that so much acrimony, money, and energy was devoted to resolving the rights to the name Pink Floyd, only for David Gilmour, Richard Wright, and Nick Mason to do so very little with it once they "won" it. Since settling their dispute with Roger Waters, the Floyd made exactly two studio records under the Pink Floyd name (and released two live albums from the respective tours).
With the release of On An Island in 2006 – some 22 years since his last solo album About Face – Gilmour may have unwittingly proved Waters' point. There is no Pink Floyd without him. A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell may have been good records, but they weren't Pink Floyd records and that is how they were sold, packaged, marketed, and judged. A rose by any other name should smell as sweet, but let's not be naïve. Heavy was the crown, and Gilmour just couldn't convincingly pull it off on his own.
With On An Island, he didn't have to try. He was free to make an album of his own music. It's not a Pink Floyd record and it doesn't pretend to be. It's buoyed and marred by the strengths and weaknesses of the Waters-less Floyd records, but without the weight of a legacy it's easier to hear the album on its own, to hear all the things that Gilmour does unlike anyone else. Gilmour still doesn't have a lot to say lyrically (or is simply unable to say it), but the unmistakable tone and texture of his guitar and that gentle, tuneful, pleasant voice were all abundant. It wasn't until I listened to Live in Gdansk that I realized just how much I've missed that.
Live in Gdansk is the second live effort to be released from Gilmour's On An Island. Gdansk is enough to flood the market and is being released in 5 different packages. Maybe if he made records more than once a decade he wouldn't feel the need to flood the market with live souvenirs (full rundown of buying options).
In addition to the five different packages what sets Gdansk apart from Remember That Night, the first live DVD from the tour released last year, is the presence of the Baltic Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Zbigniew Preisner (who wrote the string arrangements for Island). Gilmour is also joined onstage for the final time by his Pink Floyd colleague Richard Wright. Wright passed away last month after a battle with cancer.