MUSIC / Glad to be there: Pink Floyd - Earls Court
A founder member of The Independent David Lister joined the paper in 1986 as Assistant Home Editor. He became the paper's arts correspondent in 1988 and is now Arts Editor and writes a column each Saturday. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Saturday 15 October 1994
Perhaps what he meant was: 'Thank you for your confidence that we can make it through the next three hours.' In the first 30 minutes, I had my doubts. As if to emphasise their inertia, the band seemed to have alter- egos. A young guitarist ran about as Gilmour, too rotund for his T-shirt, sat on a stool; an energetic keyboard player played above Rick Wright; a second drummer waved his sticks manically over Nick Mason's greying head.
As the auditorium filled to the sound of birdsong, a screen showed short films, the symbolism sometimes transparent - boys wandering through the woods, celebrating the rural, romantic idylls of early Floyd - sometimes opaque, as when two youths seemed to drown in a river of flowers. Were they telling us something? Had this been the fate of Syd Barrett? It was good to have such questions to ponder in the first half as the band mined their mega-seller, The Division Bell, exposing its conventionality, the inadequacy of Gilmour's vocals, and the want of the now departed Roger Waters.
And then, after the interval, everything changed, the band leaping to life as they celebrated and sometimes improved on the back catalogue. Gilmour gave improvisations that astounded even the faithful. 'Money' became a funky dialogue between backing singers and Gilmour's guitar. The searing solos on 'Breathe in the Air' and 'Us and Them' made lyrics almost superfluous. And then came their most beautiful melody, 'Wish You Were Here', a spontaneous, emotional, impossible-to-mock singalong for 14,000 people.
For 'Another Brick in the Wall', middle-aged professionals, many probably teachers, punched their fists and yelled, 'Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone.' It is a myth that Pink Floyd's audience is middle-aged. Rarely do all the age groups show enthusiasm in such unity.
And while the first half's films of hippies blowing kisses seemed incongruous for this millionaire band, at the climax, music and images came together. Blazing light covered the 200ft stage, as balls of fire shot from the floor and the band played The Wall's 'Comfortably Numb' and 'Run Like Hell' with a venom and vigour I had never heard before.
The hippie connotations are now all but meaningless: what this show showed once more was that as purveyors of stadium rock, Pink Floyd not only remain extraordinarily good, they have no equal.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
- 3 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
- 4 AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Search for plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore suspended overnight
- 5 Game of Thrones is most-pirated TV show of 2014
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The golden age of TV comedy is here
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
From Marvel to Star Wars: The rise of cinema’s shared universes
Exodus: Gods and Kings banned in the UAE for 'religious mistakes'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk