Live At Knebworth 1990
The Knebworth show from 1990 was really special to me – Pink Floyd was the closing act on the 1990 ‘Best of British’ bill. All the dinosaurs gathered – 30 years ago! – Status Quo and Dire Straits and Eric Clapton, Plant and Page, Elton John, Cliff and The Shadows, Paul McCartney, Phil Collins and Genesis, Tears For Fears were the hip young things I guess. Then there was the Floyd. It was the most dad-of-the-dadrock ever.
Oh I loved this show. I was just at high school. And I taped the five-hour extravaganza off the box and watched it most days. Then I bought the VHS tapes. Individual volumes of highlights. I had the double-tape and later, much later, I got all nostalgic when it was re-issued as a double CD. In fact the post I wrote about “Revisiting” Knebworth is one of the most eyeballed things I’ve ever shared. Go figure.
Pink Floyd’s contribution to the live album was just Comfortably Numb and Run Like Hell. Definitive versions of both. The videotape had their standard live-set opener, Shine On You Crazy Diamond as well – but their full set featured Dark Side classics The Great Gig In The Sky and Money as well as Momentary Lapse’s Sorrow, a live staple in the Gilmour-led years. And Wish You Were Here too of course. So seven songs in total. It’s almost like a perfect live-album snapshot, EP-distillation. Of course it’s Floyd, so these seven songs take up an hour of your time – no short-changing.
It is now available as a live album in and of itself – where once it was only available in bad bootleg quality or officially as part of one of those cost-prohibitive box-sets that only serve to remind you of two things: You’re getting old. And the band you love really is the epitome of greedy capitalist corporate-pig dinosaur-rock.
I’m incredibly nostalgic listening to this – the Delicate Sound/Pulse live tours were monumental and the band that assisted Gilmour, Mason and Wright was phenomenal. Jon Carin on keys and Guy Pratt on bass were superstars of that era of Floyd. And the Knebworth line-up features the great Candy Dulfer on sax (she would go on to work with Prince in one of his very best bands and because of her involvement on this show and that soundtrack song she made with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics – Lily Was Here – I’ve always been a fan of her solo work too). And also Clare Tory, the voice of Great Gig In The Sky (she also sang Dolly Parton’s Love Is Like A Butterfly as the theme to TV’s Butterflies and many other sessions) was with the band for this particular performance of Great Gig. Very special.
I love the slightly shortened version of Shine On (just 10 or 11 minutes rather than the usual 12-15). I love Sorrow – think it’s the finest bit of guitar playing from the Gilmour era. And the other songs here are in the line-up when you think of great, great Floyd songs – the hits, the heavy-hitters, the signature tunes.
Pink Floyd doesn’t excerpt well. They tried to make a greatest hits album – it doesn’t work. This was a band that made thematic albums, the songs segued into others, the links were there in the mood of the piece – they weren’t a big singles band either. So the live albums become the best versions of a greatest hits. And maybe, in my old age, a seven-track single disc live album is actually all I have time for now rather than the big-sprawl of a double-disc or triple-album.
Floyd is over too. The band officially calling it quits a few years back after limping over the finish line with a lazy set of leftover instrumentals and offcuts from its final official studio album back in the mid-90s. Now they reissues bits and pieces to keep us tragics hanging on.
This is the standalone release of something that was included in the deluxe edition of the Later Years boxset. Well, I can’t spring for that. But I’m into this for the nostalgia alone. And for the short-blast of Floyd that this offers; not obviously the greatest hits – not all of them – but the best snapshot of the Roger-less live band at its best.