02 June, 2012

PULSE - Pink Floyd (1995/2005)

I must admit that I was on Roger’s side during the big Pink Floyd split.  It’s not that Waters was the be-all and end-all of Pink Floyd; it’s not that David Gilmour isn’t a brilliant composer and guitarist – I’d trade you 5 Steve Vais for one David Gilmour; and it’s not that Richard Wright wasn’t treated very shabbily and remains sadly underrated.  It’s just that without Waters, there was something missing.  Some reviewers suggested that despite their arguing, Waters and Gilmour needed each other and Gilmour later conceded that they each managed to temper the other’s worst excesses.  It was this concert film that softened my view.

Pulse makes you realise that Pink Floyd are bigger than any one man’s ego or legacy or anyone’s chosen definition of what Pink Floyd is.  Obviously the big attraction of this deev is the first complete filmed performance of The Dark Side of the Moon, however the setlist is not the same as the album of the same name which included Astronomy Domine and interestingly, Hey You.  Songs from The Division Bell are slightly overrepresented in the first half of the set, which is understandable since it was the current album at the time.  The first set is opened with Shine On You Crazy Diamond and concluded with Another Brick in the Wall part 2 and One of These Days.  The former is introduced with brief grabs of part 1 and concluded with samples from part 3 and just a hint of Dogs.  

Although they could have put the whole concert on disc 1 and the extras on disc 2, I like the fact that it’s split across both discs.  It enforces a break and provides some necessary chill out time between the early climax of One of These Days, and the beginning of The Dark Side of the Moon.  Although it was well known that they did Dark Side in its entirety during the 1994 tour, it wasn’t a given that they would do it every night.  Basically, they did it when they felt like it, so it’s a willing and loving performance.  Some of the band even look like they’re having fun.  There is a traditional encore of Wish You Were Here, Comfortably Numb and Run Like Hell, which is sadly ruined by some ridiculous grunting.

If you’re not bothered by the absence of Roger Waters – and sales have shown that millions aren’t – then Pulse is just about the ultimate Pink Floyd revue.  It has lasers, inflatable pigs, crashing planes, a lightshow that requires an epilepsy warning (seriously – it’s in the small print on the back cover) a stage that looks like a parked space-ship and a band that, within the context of the show, could just as easily be playing by remote control from an airship hovering above the city.  Or a completely different city.  

There’s no LPCM or DTS audio but there is the option of Dolby surround at the higher than usual bitrate of 640kbps and the difference in quality is noticable.

On the extras side, “packed” is an overused word but it’s the only way to describe the goodies here – so many of them that the sleeve notes provide a menu map.  Firstly, there are the amazing screen films, including alternate versions.  There’s a section called “Bootlegging the bootleggers,” which features four songs from a different show, shot on home video by the tour crew.  Home movies made by the crew are also used for a short tour documentary, and it’s actually more entertaining than many of the tour docos that are made specifically for DVD extras.  The video clips for Learning to Fly and Take it Back are included.  The former has an excellent 5.1 mix, the latter doesn’t and looks like it was mostly assembled from stock footage.  There is Pink Floyd’s induction into the (US) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which includes Billy Corgan’s rambling introduction and a stripped back performance of Wish You Were Here.  Finally, there’s information about tour dates, stage plans, cover art and a photo gallery. 

Highlight:  The Dark Side of the Moon
Feature:  * * * * ½
Extras:  * * * * *
Audio: Dolby 5.1 at 448kbps, Dolby 5.1 at 640kbps, Dolby stereo


  1. I think you need Waters and Gilmour for it to be Pink Floyd, but I'll take a Water-less Floyd doing Dark Side over Waters alone.

    1. In principle, I agree. In practice, near enough is still pretty good.
      I've seen Roger Waters do Dark Side of the Moon and there really isn't any more or less missing from this version. It's a different approach for sure but still just as valid.
      Of course, Roger doing The Great Gig in the Sky is as much a cover version as David doing Brain Damage.