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Capitol presents
David Gilmour in Concert (2002)

"Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There's a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we've been so many times..."

- David Gilmour from High Hopes

Review By: Brian Calhoun  
Published: December 17, 2002

Stars: David Gilmour, Michael Kamen, Chucho Merchan, Caroline Dale, Neill MacColl, Nic France, Sam Brown, Chris Ballin, Pete Brown, Margo Buchanan, Claudia Fontaine, Michelle John Douglas, Sonia Jones, Carol Kenyon, Aitch McRobbie
Other Stars: Richard Wright, Dick Parry, Bob Geldof, Robert Wyatt, Durga McBroom, David Laudat, Beverli Skeete
Director: David Mallet

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language in the special features)
Run Time: 01h:31m:01s
Release Date: November 05, 2002
UPC: 724349296091
Genre: rock

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ AA-A B+

DVD Review

For over thirty years, David Gilmour has been heralded by many as one of the most influential guitarists of all time. It is difficult to convey into words exactly why Gilmour's subtle virtuosity is so effectual, but anybody who has ever heard him play cannot help but be struck by his technical prowess. His masterfully executed solos breathe emotion in a way that no other performer could ever hope to faithfully recreate.

Gilmour's career took off when he began playing with the now legendary Pink Floyd in early 1968. Initially, he was to be a temporary stand-in for his friend and lead guitarist/singer, Syd Barrett, who was losing his mind due to excessive LSD use. However, Barrett's increasing dementia soon had him ousted from the band, and Gilmour earned a permanent position in the group. Filling the void left by Barrett with his unique guitar and vocal styling, Gilmour went on to help the band write and record several of the most successful albums in history, including Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. However, his success came with significant baggage, including a bitter falling out with former Pink Floyd band mate, Roger Waters, which ultimately led to a fierce legal battle over ownership to the band name. After Pink Floyd's grueling tour schedule to promote their multi-platinum selling The Division Bell in 1994, the renowned yet wearied Gilmour seemed content to finally pull himself out of the limelight.

David Gilmour in Concert, an intimate look at two performances from London's Royal Albert Hall Theater in 2001, finds the singer/guitarist happily free from the ghosts of his past and the burden of his reputation in Pink Floyd. He appears to be reveling in the fact that he can simply perform as David Gilmour. Foregoing the mind-blowing visuals and overt splendor of a Floyd concert, this predominately acoustic performance shows Gilmour cheerfully baring his soul. To paraphrase Pink Floyd's masterpiece The Wall, Gilmour has torn down his wall and exposed himself before his peers. While not necessarily as majestic as concerts with his former band, this performance does at times feel more soulful.

The show begins as Gilmour takes the stage solo with his acoustic guitar. What initially sounds like simple improvisation turns out to be the introduction to a haunting version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond. The way in which Gilmour's acoustic guitar reverberates through the Royal Albert fully conveys the despondency of this magnum opus, written about the mental deterioration of the erratic genius, Syd Barrett. Though Gilmour has aged, his guitar playing and vocals have never sounded better. In addition to performing many Floyd classics, Gilmour and his talented band also play several interesting cover songs, including a tender rendition of Richard Thompson's Dimming of the Day. Fans will also be delighted to hear the recent Gilmour composition, Smile, and not one, but two separate performances of Comfortably Numb. Fat Old Sun from the Atom Heart Mother album is a very pleasant surprise, though hardcore fans might be disappointed that it is not the 10-minute extended version featured at Pink Floyd concerts in the 1970s. The highlight of the evening is a stellar version of High Hopes. With the inclusion of Michael Kamen on piano and Caroline Dale on cello, this is the best performance I have ever heard of this chilling number.

While he has generally gone for a simplistic approach, Gilmour has many awe-inspiring tricks up his sleeve. The use of MIDI effects allows his hollow-body acoustic guitar to sound so convincingly like an electric guitar, that I briefly found myself mistakenly wondering how he changed guitars so quickly before his Coming Back to Life solo. His consistent display of guitar wizardry polarizes the audience for the duration of the concert. So much so that I could not detect as much as a whisper during quieter passages. This is nothing like the disorderly and rebellious crowds found at 1970s Pink Floyd concerts that eventually led an agitated Roger Waters to conceptualize The Wall.

Over time, Pink Floyd has earned an unjust reputation for being miserable individuals who compose somber and depressing music. Gilmour dispels much of this myth by including several upbeat songs and displaying a jovial sense of humor throughout the show. Pleasantly absent is any sense of ego one might think a multi-millionaire rock star would possess. He never forgets to give credit where credit is due, which is notably apparent as he brings Pink Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright on stage to sing lead vocals on Breakthrough, from his latest solo album. Gilmour also shows significant class as he pays great homage to his old friend and former Pink Floyd front man, Syd Barrett, by performing two of his compositions.

If I have one minor complaint, it is the omission of material from the Animals album. At the very least, even a partial version of Dogs would have been sheer heaven. Alas, it is not meant to be. Nevertheless, David Gilmour in Concert is an exhilarating experience from start to finish. What I consider to be the best music, that which I find truly moving, gives me a brief sensation of goose bumps at least once during my listening. With this concert, I experienced goose bumps throughout.

Track List:

Shine On You Crazy Diamond (I-V)
Fat Old Sun
Coming Back To Life
High Hopes
Je Crois Entendre Encore
Wish You Were Here
Comfortably Numb
Dimming of the Day
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (VI-VII)
A Great Day For Freedom
Hushabye Mountain
Comfortably Numb

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: David Gilmour in Concert is presented in an anamorphically enhanced aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1. It appears as if the concert was shot with high definition video. Unfortunately, the transfer to 480i DVD introduces several video anomalies, such as shimmering and jagged edges. However, the general appearance of the picture is crisp and clear, conveying a striking film-like presence. The many close up shots of Gilmour and his band members shine with stunning clarity. The simple but tasteful concert lighting displays a color palette that is remarkably vibrant throughout. Most impressive is the thick black background, which adds a spectacular three-dimensional level to the image. While not perfect, the image transfer is an incredibly realistic representation of the concert environment and fully enhances the home viewing experience.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is actually a quadraphonic mix, utilizing stereo front and rear soundstages without a discreet center channel. While the mix sounds perfect when sitting in the "sweet spot", the quad mix may cause localization problems for those who are seated off center. Other than this minor gripe, the soundtrack offers the impression of being seated front row at this concert. The music is mainly balanced towards the front soundstage with minor blend into the rear speakers, which are predominately reserved for audience noise. Hearing the faint musical echoes and the roaring crowd in the surrounds further conveys the acoustic imaging of a concert hall. Every instrument is incredibly strong and vivid, particularly Gilmour's guitar, which always appears heavy and robust yet simultaneously gentle and clean. The vocals are remarkably distinct and clear; when I closed my eyes, I could easily imagine that the singers were in the room with me.

A PCM stereo mix is also offered, yet I was quite disappointed with how thin it sounds. This uncompressed mix lacks depth and spaciousness, sounding almost as if it were monaural. The quad mix is much stronger and boasts better fidelity.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 16 cues and remote access
5 Featurette(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:51m:07s

Extra Extras:
  1. Spare Digits
  2. Lyrics
  3. Sound Tester
Extras Review: David Gilmour in Concert may not be stuffed to the gills with extras, but the entire presentation should be highly commended. First of all, there are no promotions, no FBI warnings, no forced trailers, and no distractions upon first inserting the disc. It immediately goes to the main menu, which is something I rarely see. The menu screens are fantastically designed, featuring 5.1 music and sound effects that make full utilization of this impressive sound format. Perhaps most inspiring is the fact that all of the extras are anamorphic. Even the Home Video, which is the only 4:3 based extra, is anamorphically enhanced with black bars generated on either side of a widescreen television. This is a breath of fresh air over the excessively bright gray side bars generated by my widescreen RPTV. I hope that other studios are paying attention, because this is the way DVD ought to be!

The first special feature is called Spare Digits. These are brief song excerpts taken from both of the Royal Albert shows. Many of these clips are from the alternate night of that which is shown in the main feature. What truly makes this worthwhile is that the editing has been stripped down to only one camera that focuses specifically on Gilmour's fretboard. I suppose I could complain that these songs are not featured in their entirety, yet the main purpose of this extra is to allow Gilmour fanatics the ability to study his soloing techniques. With extreme close up shots and beautiful 5.1 sound, it succeeds at that and perhaps a little bit more.

The Home Video is a nine-minute featurette that shows Gilmour in the posh environments of his home, practicing two songs with his talented backup singers. After we are treated to their rehearsal, we are offered a clip of the corresponding songs as they were performed at the Royal Albert Hall. This is a candid albeit brief look at the elements that go into creating a successful concert.

Under the Miscellaneous section are three offerings. First, is the music video for I Put a Spell On You. Recorded in 1992 with Mica Paris and Jools Holland, this track features Gilmour belting out blistering blues guitar licks. Next is Don't, a song first performed by Elvis, performed here by Gilmour at the Leiber and Stoller tribute concert in 2001. The third miscellaneous extra is Sonnet 18 by Shakespeare with music by Michael Kamen. This piece shows Gilmour in the studio, recording his vocals for this startlingly beautiful number. Though all of these clips are brief, each one is poignant and moving.

In High Hopes (Choral), Gilmour takes time out of The Royal Albert Show to showcase his talented backup singers. The choir proceeds to perform a beautiful a cappella version of High Hopes. These dulcet tones are entrancing in 5.1 sound.

The next section contains lyrics for all of the fourteen songs included in the Royal Albert show. This is a fantastic addition, especially with lyrics as brilliant as these. This simple feature should be included on all music-oriented DVDs.

Also included is the Sound Tester, which is a 5.1 system guide used for fine tuning an audio system. In addition to speaker placement tips, this section also provides channel specific pink noise used for calibrating the sound pressure level of all six channels. This is the same sound tester as found on the Pink Floyd—The Wall DVD, and a very handy tool for anyone who does not own a dedicated home theater setup disc.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

It is a rare occurrence when I find myself with the desire to again watch a DVD the moment it has ended. David Gilmour in Concert is a recent exception. This fantastic concert by a virtuoso performer has been given the admirable treatment it deserves with a near flawless 5.1 audio track, an anamorphic widescreen video transfer, and a healthy collection of special features.

Highly Recommended.


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