Pink Floyd guitarist hasn't hit the wall

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

For David Gilmour, it was an "intimate" gig. Twelve years after his last US concert, the guitarist of Pink Floyd kicked off a brief North American tour last week at Radio City Music Hall, the famous 6,000-seater with a ceiling high enough for a C-17 cargo plane to do a loop the loop.

If it had been a Pink Floyd concert, the venue would have been a stadium and the theatrical props would have included a mock-up airplane that crashes into the stage. But Gilmour, whose lengthy self-imposed exile is neatly summed up by the title of his new solo record, "On an Island," has effectively retired Pink Floyd, declaring that the band's reunion at last year's Live 8 concert was also its swan song. Simply put, he wants to ditch the baggage that came with the group in favor of downsized music and smaller tours that don't require, say, hauling around Floyd's signature, blimp-sized inflatable pig.

Even so, the concert featured enough lasers to fill a "Star Wars" battle scene. And the rapturous fans, many of whom paid mortgage-like ticket prices, enjoyed epic renditions of 1970s classics "Breathe," "Wish You Were Here," and "Time."

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The large band - which included Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright and guest vocalists Graham Nash and David Crosby - even managed to magnify the modest-scale material from Gilmour's new record, an album so laid-back it should come with a hammock.

Yet suspicions that the guitarist had mellowed were quashed when he made his Stratocaster sound like a category 5 hurricane during a 20-minute version of "Echoes" and a never-better "Comfortably Numb."

Gilmour's tag line boasts that he's "the voice and guitar of Pink Floyd." He's its soul, too.

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