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David Gilmour – Alte Oper Frankfurt 2006 (Crystal Cat CC-806-07)

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Alte Oper Frankfurt 2006 (Crystal Cat CC-806-07)

Alte Oper, Frankfurt, Germany – March 18, 2006

Disc 1: Castellorizon, On An Island, The Blue, Red Sky At Night, This Heaven, Then I Close My Eyes, Smile, Take A Breath, A Pocket Full Of Stones, When We Start, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Wot’s…The Deal

Disc 2: Wearing The Inside Out, Fat Old Sun, Breathe, Time/Breathe, High Hopes, Echoes, Wish You Were Here, Comfortably Numb, Coming Back To Life, Dominoes

Alte Oper is one of the latest releases from the excellent Crystal Cat label. It is their first David Gilmour release and the first, and thus far only, silver release from his latest tour in support of On An Island. The sound quality is impressive even by the label’s usual very high standards since the balance and clarity between the vocals, instruments and audience is absolutely perfect. Frankfurt was the seventh concert on the tour. The first half of the show is the entire new album and the second half contains “a few more familiar things” as Gilmour says at the beginning of the show. On An Island is played in its entirety in sequence except for “Take A Breath”, which is the fourth track on the album but is played later in the set in the eighth position.

The liner notes in the booklet, which is uncredited but comes from a review from the Weisbadener Kurier (20 March 2006), describes the performance as “A slightly threatening sound collage. Red and orange illuminated fog. And suddenly there is the ‘voice and guitar of Pink Floyd’ standing in the lime light of the stage. David Gilmour is cheered frenetically by the audience of his concert in the Alte Oper, which was sold out weeks ago, even before he has played one single sound on his guitar…The title song ‘On An Island‘ is filled with the full Pink Floyd sound, with the potential for becoming a major hit. ‘Then I Close My Eyes’…coming across as relaxing and meditative…The highlight of the first part of the concert is the rocking ‘Take A Breath’; here, the light designer Marc Brickman immerses the stage into a flaming red to the sphere-sounds, for which Pink Floyd had become so famous.”

Gilmour’s first solo album in twenty-two years is definitely mellow and meditative with some songs containing passages of such unremitting power that it is hard to not get swept away in its beauty. The tape opens with the abstract soundscape of “Castellorizon” which runs directly into the surreal “On An Island’. The delivery of the new material is confident and has a foot planted firmly in psychedelic which is the beginning of Gilmour’s career. “The Blue” sounds gorgeous with Richard Wright playing his breathing organ motif underneath Gilmour’s piercing guitar. “This Heaven” has a great walking blues bass to accompany Gilmour’s vocals, a purging of his guilt of his great wealth. “Thank you again. It is long forgotten” is his cryptic remark before “Then I Close My Eyes”. The guitar is out of tune at the beginning of “Take A Breath” which causes the band to stop and start again. The first set ends with “When We Start”, a sequel to the song “Near The End” which closed his underrated 1984 solo effort About Face.

The second set containing the oldies begins with a version of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” reminiscent of both Pulse and the arrangement he used for his last concerts. “Wot’s…The Deal” from Obscured By Clouds is a welcome addition to the set list. The song stops soon after he starts the lyrics and Gilmour says to the audience, “It doesn’t start with ‘someone’. It starts with ‘heaven’” before beginning the song again without incident. Wright is given a chance to sing with “Wearing The Inside Out” from the last Pink Floyd album.”Fat Old Sun” follows and is not played in the 2002 arrangement but is a full electric version with is close to the album version which ends after the solo which is one of Gilmour’s best in this show. “Echoes” is the final song of the show and is introduced with “sit comfortably back in your seats. Richard…” before the familiar ping. This version lasts for twenty minutes and is incredibly tight and powerful. This is one of the best versions since the seventies.  “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb” are the two encores.

Crystal Cat includes “Coming Back To Life” and “Dominoes” at the end of the second disc. The former isn’t part of the regular set list and is rarely performed. It was performed at the March 20th show at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam and the track on this release could come from that show. The sound quality is as good as the Frankfurt tape. The Syd Barrett song “Dominoes” is a common inclusion in most shows but was not performed at the March 16th L’Olympia in Paris nor in Frankfurt. The sound quality of this recording is very good to excellent although not as good as the others. These two tracks serve as a nice bonus although there is no mention on the artwork that they are not part of the Frankfurt set and can be confusing. The label use very high quality paper for the inserts and use a nice tour picture on the front. The sound quality and presentation make this an excellent release and if this is the only silver title to surface from Gilmour’s On An Island tour then it is worth having. 

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David Gilmour - Alte Oper Frankfurt 2006 (Crystal Cat CC-806-07), 2.5 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

2 Comments

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  1. Avatar of zimbo
    zimbo says
    September 2, 2011, 6:34 am

    This recording is possibly the best audience recording I have ever heard. I actually prefer this one to the official release (well, no surprise spending all my allowance on bootlegs). This release is perfection, ranging from the booklet to the sound of recording. I guess the only minus I can come up with is that on one or two tracks the backing vocals are a little out of tune. This however is weighed up with a generous margin by all the highlights scattered across the discs. I mean, Echoes is a reason enough to own this set. If we only had an official recording of this quality from Floyd in their heyday. Who wouldn’t give an arm and a leg for that?!

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  2. Avatar of LedMan
    LedMan says
    August 14, 2009, 12:39 pm

    This is by far one of the best audience recordings I’ve ever heard period. This release picks up the lows, mids, highs in amazing detail without distortion and top that off with glossy artwork including a booklet. I easily give this five stars!!!

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