A Night Of Wonder: Circus Maximus MMXVI (Eat A Peach 130/31/32)
Circo Massimo, Rome, Italy – July 2, 2016
Disc 1 (71:47) 5 A.M., Rattle That Lock, Faces Of Stone, Wish You Were Here, What Do You Want From Me, A Boat Lies Waiting, The Blue, Money, Us And Them, In Any Tongue, High Hopes
Disc 2 (77:56) Astronomy Domine, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V), Fat Old Sun, Coming Back To Life, On An Island, The Girl In The Yellow Dress, Today, Sorrow, Run Like Hell
Disc 3 (49:59) Time, Breathe (reprise), Comfortably Numb. Bonus Tracks: Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, USA – March 24, 2016 – Featuring David Crosby: A Boat Lies Waiting, The Blue, On An Island, Comfortably Numb. Arena, Verona, Italy – July 10, 2016: One Of These Days
The Circo Massimo, or Circus Maximus, is an ancient structure in the heart of Rome that dates back to 494 BC. The venue was constructed to be used for celebrations that would include chariot games, athletics, plays, and gladiator fights. The area is now a park and from time to time hosts music events, Genesis played there in 2007 and would release it as “When In Rome”, and the Rolling Stones played there in 2014. For the second leg of the Rattle That Lock tour, Gilmour would play two nights at the ancient venue, this new release from the Peach folks features the first night in Rome. David would play another ancient venure just a few days later with two performances at the amphitheater in Pompeii, the site of their memorable 1971 concert film.
The source is a superb audience recording, now a lot of adjectives are used to describe recordings, for once the description is accurate. The recording is so clear, well balanced with no crowd interference that upon first listen you would think it is a soundboard. How the taper managed to find a sweet spot for excellent sound with no audience noise is beyond me. There is very little variation in the set list for the tour with music culled from his latest two solo albums plus a bevy of Floyd classics. The band takes the stage to 5 am with Rattle That Lock being the ‘real’ opener. A really nice version of Faces Of Stone follows and is very Italian sounding, the clarinet is played wonderfully and adds a melancholy feel to the song that had The Godfather coming to mind. Wish You Were Here is well received by the audience, they make enough noise to actually hear them! One of the floating songs in the set is What Do You Want From Me, very powerful Gilmour’s playing is excellent, his leads are spot on and very powerful. One of my favorite tracks from On An Island is The Blue, the music summons visions of clear blue water and tranquility, the music flows like a gentle moving stream. The first set ends with a very strong version of High Hopes, perhaps the best track from The Division Bell, the sounds of birds chirping and the ringing of a distant bell has the audience applauding. While Gilmour played the steel guitar, Chester Kamen plays some really nice acoustic guitar, in fact there are a lot of little nuances to the music that adds a full and lush sound to the music. Afterwards Dave thanks the audience for coming and not staying home and watching football and the band take a 20 minute break.
The second set is full of Floydian wonderment, a loose sounding Astronomy Domine harkens back to the psychedelic 60’s. The looseness of the guitars and the thundering drumming of Steve Distanislao make for a powerful version of the song. It is followed immediately by Shine On You Crazy Diamond in obvious homage to Syd Barrett, it is nice yet sad to hear the keyboard intro to the song. It is one of the most cold and sad pieces of music and is one that I never tire of, the sadness comes from the loss of Richard Wright. Certainly the quiet member of the Floyd, yet certainly played such a massive part in the musical history is spectre looms over the music. I really enjoy the arraignment of Fat Old Sun, starts off like an acoustic song with folk sensibilities then the full band kicks in ala November 1970, superb.
Of the three newer songs in the second set, Girl In The Yellow Dress is my favorite, slow jazz at its best. David introduces his band prior to the song, love how he pronounces Macon, Georgia, home of Chuck Leavell, so glad to see him playing with such illustrious company, he is a true world class player. I also love Dave’s intro of “some jazz to calm you all down” as the audience sound quite well reserved. A typically rocking Run Like Hell closes the main set in fine fashion. The encores are standard, Time with the Breathe reprise is the first, you can hear the audience sing the opening verses in unison with Dave making for a very atmospheric version of the song. It is the final song, Comfortably Numb, that brings the house down.
The next four songs are from the American leg of the tour specifically the first of two Hollywood Bowl gigs with tracks featuring David Crosby on backing vocals and in the case of Comfortably Numb, he sings Roger’s parts. The sound is excellent yet not even close to its predecessor, the music is clear and dynamic yet at times is a bit overloaded and not near as bright. The audience recording does feature some audience noise but nothing that really interferes, in fact the atmosphere is well captured. The final song is a golden oldie from 1971, the Meddle classic One Of These Days, taken from the first of two gigs performed in Verona, Italy. The audience recording is near excellent, a bit more distant than the other two and very atmospheric the sound is clear and well detailed. The audience seems happy to hear the song and clap along with the beginning, it was placed as the first song of the second set replacing Astronomy Domine for a select few dates. The bass tones are well defined, something you need for it, after the vocal line, the band really jam the hell out of the song. There you have it, three discs packed full of Gilmour Goodness.
The packaging is typical Eat A Peach, mini LP sleeved with live shots from the Circo Massimo gig (s), each CD sleeve is adorned in the same manner, the sleeve for the third disc is excellent, a slightly distant shot of the stage with sun setting behind it. An 8 page booklet accompanies the set with some nice shots of the Hollywood Bowl show with David Crosby. Simply put for fans of Pink Floyd and solo Dave, this release is a must have, the recording is incredible and the performance is sublime, really nice title.
Thanks a lot for this great review!
I can only agree with your view about the sound quality which is really excellent on the main set.
This is a fantastic title by “Eat a peach” and strongly recommended.