10 June, 2012

LIVE IN GDAŃSK - David Gilmour (2008)

On an Island is an album of which David Gilmour is rightly proud, but the four-disc version of Live in Gdańsk contains the third and fourth complete versions of the album, all within two and a half years of each other, which might just be enough. 

Live in Gdańsk is primarily a live double album and the DVDs are bonus discs so they should be viewed as such.  Even so, it’s slightly disappointing that the concert film leaves out six tracks that are included on the album.  The concert was recorded at the Gdańsk shipyards with the Baltic Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra in Gdańsk and was timed to coincide with the 26th anniversary of the Solidarity movement.  This accounts for the addition of A Great Day for Freedom to the set list.

Other than that, it’s basically the same show as Remember That Night, with a Symphony Orchestra and without Crosby, Nash, Wyatt and Bowie; with Astronomy Domine and without Arnold Layne.  Indeed, we saw preparations for this show in the tour film included with Remember That Night. 

In isolation, it’s a great show.  The stage design is certainly interesting, with a row of six video screens focused constantly on each member of the band, rather than acting as a live telecast.  It’s a much better transfer than Remember That Night – the picture is much clearer and crisper.  Being an outdoor show, the sound is a bit less polished than the Albert Hall concert and generally sounds more ‘live.’  The presence of the orchestra isn’t really as noticable as it ought to be.

The rest of the first DVD is Gdańsk Diary, a film about the concert and its context, which also contains a fair bit of soundcheck footage.  This disc also contained a web-link to download bonus audio, but the download site has since been closed.  The bonus audio is available on the 5-disc version but no way is it worth paying $60 more for.

The main feature of the second DVD is On an Inland in surround sound and it is a great surround mix.  Unfortunately, it’s not high resolution DVD-Audio, but it does feature both Dolby and DTS options.  Unlike many other surround versions of albums, there is no vision to distract you from the music – just a black screen.  The additional features on this disc are literally more of the same as what’s on Remember That Night.  There are three more pieces from the Mermaid Theatre show including Wearing the Inside Out, two from the AOL Sessions and three from Live from Abbey Road.  The latter includes a clearly impromptu semi-acoustic version of Echoes, which also appears as an Easter egg on Remember That Night.  Finally, there are three Barn Jams which are quite interesting.

While all these bits and pieces are excellent, it would have been preferable to have more tracks from less sources on each disc – that is, have all the Mermaid Theatre pieces on Remember That Night and all the Live from Abbey Road tracks on Live in Gdańsk, for example.

Live in Gdańsk is a great concert and package, and it features Richard Wright’s last recorded performance, but it’s so similar to Remember That Night that you would need to be a completist to want both.

Highlight:  Astronomy Domine
Feature:  * * * ½
Extras: 3-disc version:  * * ½ 
            4-disc version: * * * * *
Audio: Dolby 5.1, Dolby stereo, DTS (On an Island surround version only)

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