Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour took on the sold-out crowd at Radio City for the second night of his North American tour lobbing bouts of lightweight pop at the crowd at first, then steamrolling it with a second set of cosmic rock from planet x
Backed by a killer backup band including former Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright and Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera who also co-produced the new one On An Island, the band played it in its entirety and in order, squeezing the lemon out of each note, riff and arpeggio.
For the second set Gilmour burned, rumbled and torqued his axe into twisted crescendos from another time and era. His vocals were stoner ear candy that smoothed out the jagged overload of a guitar on fire.
From the first notes of the second set opener “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” with David Crosby and Graham Nash chiming in on the chorus, to the closer “Comfortably Numb” the band took the crowd on a psychedelic trip through its catalog from 1971’s Meddle to their weaker incarnation without Roger Waters at the helm. He split from the band in 1986 after a nasty court battle over the band’s name.
On “Echoes” from the underrated Meddle everything collided into a stew of heavy metal licks and harmonies over the jackhammer pulsations and a squealing wail that defined a short-lived era for the band of pre-Dark Side, avant-garde noise rock. The 23-minute opus that is the centerpiece for the band’s Live At Pompeii film/DVD ended the second set and left the crowd in awe, fumbling for loose joints.
The first set was an exercise in middle of the road lightweight rock. Corny lyrics and mood pieces that centered around the inevitable guitar solo took on the flavor of a well-oiled and contrived jukebox. The rhythms neither pulsed nor rocketed out of the pocket as Gilmour’s sidemen ambled on towards the next solo.
Opening with “Castellorizon” Gilmour was a lone and solitary figure onstage, dressed in black as the fog machines blew. On “Red Sky At Night” he played saxophone that sounded predictably “Floyd-ish.” “On An Island” had David Crosby and Graham Nash on board adding their full-bodied harmonies to the mix giving the tune a tropical Jimmy Buffett flavor.
For the encores they played “Wish You Were Here” and Stephen Stills’ Vietnam protest song “Find The Cost Of Freedom” from Four Way Street that was covertly dealt out to the Republicans in the crowd. The closer was a mind-bending assault on mind and matter as the lasers shone on like crazy diamonds and Gilmour pistol-whipped the crowd with a solo that screeched and howled to the heavens and back leaving everyone feeling “Comfortably Numb.”