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No pink slip yet for David Gilmour

April 21, 2006|Steve Hochman | Special to The Times

David Gilmour's concert at the Kodak Theatre on Wednesday had two sides to its moon: material from his new album, "On an Island," and selections from a little band he used to play with known as Pink Floyd.

There were clear contrasts at work. The new album, performed in its entirety in the concert's first half, is all about love, intimacy and family.

His first solo album in 22 years and first studio album since Floyd's 1994 "The Division Bell," it is a personal statement reflecting a man who has found contentment at 60.

Then there was the chilled paranoia that runs through much of the Floyd material that made up the second half. There was Gilmour's reservedly engaging presence, leading a band that at times seemed itself a quasi-family, with Floyd co-founder and keyboardist Richard Wright, Roxy Music guitarist (and Gilmour co-producer) Phil Manzanera and guest vocalists David Crosby and Graham Nash.

The latter pair reprised their role from the album as well as joining in on second-half opener "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and an a cappella encore of their Crosby, Stills and Nash chestnut, "Find the Cost of Freedom."

And there was the overkill, stun-level lighting effects and room-choking stage smoke, small-theater reductions of the pointedly human-obscuring spectacle that dominated Floyd's arena and stadium tours from the 1970s through the early '90s (and which, arguably, the fans have come to expect).

There was the idyllic comfort of such "Island" songs as its concluding "Where We Start" (portraying a countryside wander with his wife and co-writer, Polly Samson). But there was also the resigned emotional defeat of the show-closing "Comfortably Numb," from the 1980 alienation epic "The Wall."

The funny thing is that in this show, part of a brief tour also scheduled to include a Gibson Amphitheatre concert Thursday, the two sides didn't sound that different. Through it all was Gilmour's distinctive guitar playing, alternately stinging and soaring through his signature melancholy lines and elastic note bends, as well as his gray-hued yet affecting vocals and preference for sweeping musical gestures and deliberate tempos.

He also invoked the spirit of Floyd founder Syd Barrett, who left in 1968 because of mental issues after just one album, not just via the affectionate 1975 odes "Shine On" and "Wish You Were Here," but with the rarely played "Arnold Layne," the group's 1967 debut single released before Gilmour even joined. Sung on Wednesday by Wright, the propulsive, elliptical psychedelic vignette stood out amid the more contemplative material. And "Echoes," a 20-minute space-rocker dating from 1971, showed Gilmour still able to navigate Floyd's earlier outer reaches quite colorfully.

(Of course, there was no mention of Roger Waters, the longtime Floyd co-leader with whom there was an apparent one-time-only reunion for Live 8 last summer.) All in all, Gilmour's two sides Wednesday added up to a nicely full man.

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