Live In Gdansk by David Gilmour is an album that has been released in a number of forms. There are two, three, four and even a five disc incarnation of this release plus there is a vinyl version floating around out there somewhere. I am reviewing the four disc set which includes two CD’s and two DVD’s and covers 58 songs plus a documentary, which is a lot of David Gilmour any way you look at it.
The concert that forms the heart of this release was recorded before about 50,000 fans in Gdansk, Poland. Gilmour surrounds himself with a crack group of musicians including old band mate Richard Wright and guitarist Phil Manzanera. The Baltic Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra is also on board to provide a background sound. Despite all this, there is little doubt that it is David Gilmour who is the star of the show. His guitar work and vocals are outstanding and while the orchestra is an ongoing presence it never intrudes or overwhelms what Gilmour is trying to accomplish.
Richard Wright has passed away since this concert was recorded which lends a poignancy to the proceedings. He was certainly one of the most skilled keyboardists that rock music produced and this concert will probably be his official swan song, so enjoy. His vocal on Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” is a final treat for fans and strangers alike.
The concert set, which is contained on the two CDs, consists of the songs from his On An Island album plus some gems from the Pink Floyd catalogue. “Astronomy Domine,” “Fat Old Sun,” "Time" “Wish You Were Here,” “A Great Day For Freedom” the aforementioned “Comfortably Numb” and a stirring rendition of “Echoes” all pay homage to his work with Pink Floyd.
The third disc is a DVD of the concerts. While it does not contain every song that was presented on the two CDs, it is an excellent companion to them. It allows a person to not just listen to David Gilmour, but to see him as well. Whether seen or heard, these tracks bear testament to the fact he is one of the superior guitarists of our age. The DVD presents him in all his technical skill and focuses on the sound he can draw from his guitar outside of the studio.
The final disc is pleasurable and interesting but not essential to the over all vision of the release. Eleven tracks from four different live performances are presented. Three new tracks entitled “Barn Jam 166,” “Barn Jam 192” and “Barn Jam 121” should be of interest to Gilmour and Pink Floyd fans alike as they contain what may be some of the last Richard Wright performances. The album ends with the audio only tracks from the On An Island album but here they are presented in 5.1 surround sound.
All the discs are crystal clear which helps to accentuate the sound and textures of the music. I would have liked a little more light on the DVD concert disc as the supporting cast is lost in the shadows at times, but this is minor.
David Gilmour has put together one of the better concert albums in recent memory. Live In Gdansk presents the musical vision of rock icon David Gilmour and it is a journey that is well work taking with him.