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David Gilmour – Hamburg Echoes (The Swingin’ Pig TSP-CD-5527/28)

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Hamburg Echoes (The Swingin’ Pig TSP-CD-5527/28)

“CCH” Congress Centrum Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany – March 11th, 2006

Disc 1: Castellorizon, On An Island, The Blue, Red Sky At Night, This Heaven, Then I Close My Eyes, Smile, Happy Birthday David, Take A Breath, A Pocketful Of Stones, Where We Start, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, band introduction

Disc 2: Wot’s… Uh The Deal, Wearing The Inside Out, Breathe, Time > Breathe reprise, Dominoes, High Hopes, Echoes, Wish You Were Here, Comfortably Numb

Hamburg Echoes documents the second date in Germany and third overall of the On An Island tour last spring. Unlike other recent releases by The Swingin’ Pig, this is not sourced from a radio broadcast but from an audience recording. The taper was in an excellent position and is able to produce a startling, three-dimensional stereo recording that captures the dynamics of the performance very well. Everything is clear and well balanced and it captures the elusive “live sound”. The only minor quibble is that, every once in a while, there are some loud shouts and whistles from members of the audience close to the microphone that drown out everything else.  There are no cuts on the tape.

The newspaper Der Spiegel published a review of this show on March 20th, 2006. Some of the observations include, “The singer and guitarist of Pink Floyd is performing his just released new solo album On An Island at venues, providing with some kind of intimacy of an audience of some thousands. That didn’t hurt the success of the record at all; it is following the path of the commercial triumphs of Pink Floyd. Anyhow, the album is number one in the English charts and is also in a remarkable third place in Germany. The reason for that is plain and simple: Gilmour’s album is sounding like Pink Floyd, and even more so than in the last works of the band. So the music with rakish guitar solos and soft electro waves is a reminder of the dreamy bestsellers of the 70s like ‘Wish You Were Here’, however without achieving their class.

“Only in the first half of his concert Gilmour is performing exclusively his new songs, in the 2nd part he is fulfilling the anticipations of his fans with a bunch of old Pink Floyd hits like ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond'; ‘Echoes’ and ‘Comfortably Numb'”. The similarities of the new material to Pink Floyd are obvious given Gilmour was in that band, and it is tempting to draw close parallels such as saying “Then I Close My Eyes” sounds too much like “Us & Them”. But the album does stand on its own merits. Like in Frankfurt, the first set is played close to the album sequence except for “Take A Breath”. After “Smile” the audience sang an impromptu “Happy Birthday”. David replies with ausgezeichnet” (“excellent” in German) and says, “thank you, it feels good to be sixty.”

Reviewers point out the amazing light show for “Take A Breath”, and the song does really rock. But the highlight for the latter part of the first set is the sublime “A Pocketful Of Stones”. Like other shows, the second half of the show receives the better reaction with all of the older Pink Floyd numbers beginning with “Shine On”. At the songs conclusion, after introducing Dick Parry, someone shouts out “Wish You Were Here”. Gilmour replies dryly with “well, we are”. Richard Wright receives another warm response for “Wearing The Inside Out”. Some have criticized the decision to play “Dominoes” and Phil Manzanera’s contribution has been singled out by some to be very strange and not making sense.  But the highlight again is a very tight and heavy version of “Echoes”. It is played similar to the 1987 tour with the second drum introduction before the beginning vocals being omitted. Otherwise it is another classic performance which all the reviews state is the best song of the evening.

The first encore is “Wish You Were Here”. Afterwards Gilmour says to the audience “ok…we have time for one more…any requests??” What follows is a perfunctory performance of “Comfortably Numb”. The final guitar solo in that song is very short and there is speculation that Gilmour was distracted by the many people rushing to the front of the stage. Whatever the case it sounds like the band is not really into it and is the only lowlight of the evening. But the set list and performance are solid and it makes one wish Gilmour would have played some songs from this other two solo albums instead of the complete On An Island.

When I reviewed Alte Oper on Crystal Cat last month I made the erroneous assertion that it was to date the only silver release from David Gilmour’s On An Island tour. Both Echoes Over New York City on Check This Out and Hamburg Echoes on The Swingin’ Pig were released before Crystal Cat and are all very fine recordings. Since this tour received such limited bookings in small venues every document that gets released is precious. This comes packaged in a double slimline jewel case with several good live shots of Gilmour on the cover and insert. It isn’t clear how many copies The Swingin’ Pig produce of each title, but this one is certainly worth seeking out.

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David Gilmour - Hamburg Echoes (The Swingin' Pig TSP-CD-5527/28), 2.5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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  1. Profile photo of chambau
    chambau says
    September 4, 2011, 2:15 pm

    GSPARACO: How do you compare this title in terms of sound quality and performance, as set lists are almost identical, against ALTE OPER FRANKFURT 2006?

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