David Gilmour Recalls the Only Time He Saw Pink Floyd Live
In the second episode of the podcast series The Lost Art of Conversation, the guitarist discussed the challenges of taking the band back on the road after the departure of Roger Waters. Their A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour ran from 1987 until 1989.
Asked if he could remember the moment during rehearsals that he felt everything was going right, Gilmour said, “I can remember the moment I thought, ‘This has all gone to shit – it’s awful!’ ... The trouble with being in the band and having to do the singing and the playing is that you can’t be out there in the audience at the same time. … Some of the time, with a radio mic on my guitar, I could go out front, playing a little bit while they’re playing, then stopping them and doing something [to address a problem]. But if you’re a distance away, you’re so out of sync because of the time it’s taken for the sound to come to you.”
That led to the observation that the only problem with being in Pink Floyd was never being able to see the band in action. “The only time I’ve ever seen Pink Floyd live was the encore in Montreal stadium in 1977 – the last gig of the Animals tour, the one that Roger spat on someone at, I think,” Gilmour recalled. “I was so pissed off about something, and I can’t even remember what it was, that I refused to play the encore, and went out to the mixing desk to watch whatever encore it was, with Snowy [White] playing [my] parts. That was the only moment I saw a tiny bit.”
You can hear Gilmour talk about it in the podcast below.
Returning to the 1987 road trip, he recalled how the band rehearsed in a hangar at an international airport, which meant they had to go through passport control before they started work. Additional pressure came from the fact that tickets to some shows went on sale before the album was even finished.
“It was a big scary thing, putting that tour together,” he said. “To recognize that we were doing something right and that it was going very, very well was a big source of joy and relief and excitement for me.”
Gilmour admitted that the challenge of having two stage sets on tour, so that one would be ready for performance while the other one was being dismantled, was something that was beyond him. He attributed its success to “teamwork.” "It’s an enormous logistical task, and I couldn’t begin to tell you how they do it," he said. "But if you’ve got the right people, it’ll happen.”