On 3 July at the Vue Cinema, Leicester Square London, there was an august gathering of hacks and fans celebrating the release of the DVD 'Pulse'.
David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright attended also to field questions about this project which transfers the original VHS release of the 1994 Earls Court concert to DVD, plus loads of extras.
Mark Stay was GRTR 's man-on-the-spot and even asked a question from the floor...
After the PULSE DVD premiere we were treated to a Q&A with David Gilmour(DG), Nick Mason(NM) and Richard Wright(RW).
The band was on good form, with plenty of fun banter and a knowledgable and receptive audience (including, of course, many band members and Floyd associates including Guy Pratt - who was sitting right behind me - Jon Carin, Dick Parry, Polly Samson and Phil Manzanera .
The evening was hosted by Stuart Maconie (SM), who got the ball rolling...
SM: When you're at the eye of that hurricane, as it were, do you have to sit back and watch the show to realise what a huge momentous show it was. When you're in the middle of it what does it feel like?
DG: It's fantastic to watch it like this. It's a privilege we just never, ever get. It's extraordinary the amount of things, you just don't know quite what's going on behind you. At the time it's concentration for us. Hard work. Really trying to get it perfect
RW: I think David's basically answered what I wanted to say, which is ever since I've played with Floyd I've wanted to see what we look like and what we sound like And...
DG: Didn't look bad actually Rick
SM: It sounds okay I think that last one (DSOTM), you'll have a hit with that.
RW: It's amazing to see, actually, how the light shows work
NM: (Interrupting) And also to be able to...
RW: On stage (To Nick) Excuse me, I'm talking
More audience laughter.
NM: Come on then
RW: Okay, Erm just erm, no over to you Nick, go on...
NM: Oh, it seems a little inconsequential now; I was going to say how long Jon Carin's hair was...
RW: Oh, well, yes, Jon's hair was beautiful in those days so was Guy's actually.
SM: Is Guy in?
As I mentioned earlier, he was sitting behind me, but never got a chance to answer as Rick continued the hair theme.
RW: My hair, I had a terrible hair day on that.
SM: So it's that's one thing I was going to mention; are you so concentrating in the moment of what's coming next that you can't afford the luxury of enjoying the experience?
DG: No, you enjoy the experience, I mean it is very enjoyable doing it at the time and there are lots of moments where you can, uhm not exactly drift off, but you can get into the zone that you're going for and enjoy it.
There's an awful lot of cues and words you have to remember and stuff in my case and guitar.
NM: As Dave said, the other thing is, you just don't see the colour. And the light changes are happening they're overhead, you don't get those fantastic colour swirls on the screen, for instance, the round screen. I really enjoyed it.
RW: I really enjoyed it - it is the first I've actually seen us How I imagined an audience would see it. It really is the first time.
DG: That Garry Wallis is a busy little bee isn't he?
RW: I think he's pretty good.
SM: Well, I think we're all agreed it's pretty good. I have to ask you, purely as a practical question; why now? Why so long for this DVD release?
DG: Over to you Nick
NM: Oh well I think there's a number of reasons. Why so long? I think well, one problem was I don't think that DVD had been invented, probably, when we actually did the thing originally and so a lot of it originally came out on VHS.
And then it took just a very long time to do, I think there were a lot of changes in the way we thought it should be done, but there were a lot of technical problems and then there was a certain amount of technical changing of the mind.
DG: It was shot on video originally and most things today are shot on hi-def, and the quality, the inherent quality of the actual video we were hunting for ways to improve that. To find new digital programs that we could run that through and we spent a lot of time and a lot of money trying to get the resolution and colour as perfect as it could be and the mixing of the sound took an awful long time and the actual process of all that authoring of the thing was interminable. It's here now That's the positive thing.
SM: Of course, yeah.
NM: I think it might be worth mentioning, since there were no credits well, apart from a few funny old musos at the front, but James Guthrie who did the bulk of the work in terms of the technical side of the remastering I think he did a fantastic job and I think the 5.1 stereo does work.
RW: I agree with that. I was very overwhelmed by the sound coming out really, really good.
SM: We did just see an edit, as I said at the beginning, that's just a portion of the DVD, which has got tons of bonus material, fantastic extras on it and is four hours in total.
I think the earliest song, I think I'm right in saying, on the DVD the earliest in time is 'One of these days' isn't it? The earliest material you do?
At this point I turn to Guy and we both mouth the words 'Astronomy Domine'. But, of course, we're wrong as it's not on the DVD.
SM: Now when that was recorded Compact Cassettes were the cutting-edge of technology. Now, does that mean does the new technology afford you, as a band, new creative opportunities does it give you a chance to reassess your music or rework it? Is it an attractive thing coming into new technology?
DG: One has to be very careful with mucking about with old stuff, which has its sound and its quality and people love it pretty much the way it is and this has all been done and mixed to try and make it sound as close to how it originally would have done.
There's an awful lot of other stuff that one can, and sometimes is, tempted to do with the type of technology that's available to us, but one can take these things too far. If it's if it ain't broke, done fix it.
SM: Yes, absolutely, and that brings me on to 'Dark Side of the Moon'. What prompted the idea to do it ? I mean, the history of the work, back to when it was called 'Eclipse' at Finsbury Park, I think the history of the work has always been that it's been performed in its entirety from time to time. Did you think it was impossible to do otherwise? Can you really take chunks of 'Dark side of the Moon' or does it really need to be done like that?
DG: We had been doing chunks of it and through the late eighties and through our tour in 1994 we'd done quite a few songs from DSOTM and it did just occur to us as some point to give the whole thing a go and we started doing it some time point during our American tour, we had to gather together all the bits of film and all the quad tapes and all the bits that we hadn't actually been performing so far. But the first rehearsal we did of DSOTM, the first performance it was really an emotional experience; quite fantastic.
RW: I remember that day, because when we came up with the idea of doing Dark Side we got the whole band together and without actually any rehearsal we actually nearly got through the whole thing And that was amazing and then, of course, we had to rehearse it more
SM: But it was there somewhere in the DNA.
SM: You say 'emotional experience' and I can see that because it has this arc, not a strict narrative arc like a story, but you've got to experience it from beginning to end really to get the most out of it, haven't you?
DG: (Deadpan) You have to.
SM: You don't have to...
NM: It's not compulsory.
SM: No. It was voted recently on a poll for the radio station I work for, Radio 2, as the record that had changed more peoples' lives than anyone else. Do you have any feelings about that? I can see people would love it
RW: Is that people in their bedroom?
SM: Erm, I think it's people scattered across the world, but it's a life changing record. Does that ring true?
DG: I think it is, yes. I think the subjects that are under discussion, if you like, in DSOTM are sort of universal and eternal, so they are the same for people today as when it came out. New people, young people are discovering it all the time.
NM: Yeah I think that's true. I think the interesting thing, in a way, is that the lyrics are written almost for a much older audience than our age at the time And they're as relevant to a 50 or 60 year old as they are perhaps more so than to a 20/30 year old.
RW: I was being a bit facetious then, but actually I think it probable means more today than it did in '73.
SM: There's a lot more than DSOTM, obviously, on the complete DVD. And when you watch do the memories come flooding back of that fairly epic undertaking wasn't it?
The American shows and the Earl's Court nights, I mean, do you look back on it with affection or with a sort of mopping of the brow 'blimey that was hard work' or what?
NM: I think it's always great to look back. I certainly enjoyed the tour and nearly always enjoyed playing. The memories are always good. I think we try and forget the first night with the trouble with the seating apart from that.
RW: For me, actually, being on stage for those 2-3 hours that is the pleasure, that is what it's all about for me. Making the album, recording it, writing the songs; that could be pleasure but it's work but being on stage is just...
SM: I think I'll invite some questions from the floor...
Q (Serge from Belgium - a lot of this is paraphrased as Serge, bless him, did go on a bit ): What you were saying earlier, I remember Paul McCartney once said to Noel Gallagher, 'Doesn't it irritate you that you can't watch your own band?' then Noel Gallagher said, 'Yeah, but what about you mate; you were in the Beatles, that would do my fucking head in.'
That's what you were saying. And I was sitting behind you during the projection, behind Rick and David, and I noticed, particularly David, singing along to the projection.
David smiles. Audience laughs.
Q (Still Serge): I'm sorry if I come across as a bit of a voyeur, but I couldn't help noticing and I wondered; is that a sort of Pavlov effect?
A pause as everyone tries to remember what 'Pavlov effect' means.
Q (Yup, still Serge): You see the show and automatically...
DG: The music's in my blood. I can't help it. I go along to an Eagles (concert) and I'm singing along with every single word as well, so I can't help it. I'm sorry.
Q (Serge now unstoppable): I want to say very briefly you make utterly, utterly beautiful music; uplifting and warm and spiritual music and thank you for that.
I saw the Earl's Court shows and saw one in LA in the Rose Bowl which was amazing and I saw the three Albert Hall gigs (he gestures to David) that you did a month ago and I'm going to Venice
The audience laughs; it's clear we're in the presence of real fan here...
Q (Serge): I've played your music at different locations and scenery around the world; I've played a couple of Pink Floyd songs at the Grand Canyon, some at the desert and I would like to ask you each if you have an example of when you were travelling or when you were somewhere where you thought either the scenery or nature or the location or an incident happening that your music would have been the perfect soundtrack to that?
DG: Ooh, trying to pin one down is the tough one; there's dozens. I mean obviously, y'know, anyone going through life has great moments of emotion and wonder at the beauty of this planet that we live on and the beauty is still there just and, so yes; I think a lot of the stuff that we have done would be very fitting, but I never seem to have a player with me at the time.
RW: That is such a hard one to answer. I mean, when I'm in the middle of the Atlantic sailing I'm just overwhelmed by this planet and so sad what's happening to it, but there's music that will come to me and I will need to play when I'm in that situation, but it's very hard
SM: Any more questions?
Q (Mark Stay) I was there at the concerts at Earl's Court and they were absolutely fantastic was there ever a song on that tour that you wanted to do, but really felt that you couldn't namely due to grumpy bass player not being around?
DG: Not specifically I don't think. We did, in 1987 on the Momentary Lapse of Reason tour, we did try Echoes and it for some reason it just didn't seem to quite gel and so we dropped it again. Any others Nick?
NM: No I think that's probably the best example and, actually to be fair, it's nothing to do with grumpy bass players it's really to do with what seems to fit in the period that we're playing. I think we just couldn't
NM: I think with Echoes, at the time, the lyrics just felt out of place.
Q: Because a common refrain at concerts I've been to, there always a bloke at the back asking for something from Animals, is that something you've considered doing?
NM: I think possibly, I don't think we ever did consider doing anything from Animals. Maybe it's I'm trying to think what the pieces are and how they
DG: I have an affection for Dogs and occasionally...
DG: No, the song
NM: And I love Cats the musical, but...
DG: But it's a bit long, and there are other moments that are always seem to have more resonance and meaning for me personally; I'd rather do 20 minutes of Shine on you crazy diamond than 20 minutes of Dogs, and there's only so many 20 minute long things you can knock out in an evening.
Q (Mark from Planet Rock Radio): One statement, one question. Statement: why didn't we have Comfortably Numb? That would have been lovely in the theatre with the sound, but the second thing, the films that went along with that were especially made.
How much involvement did you have in putting together the films that were projected; they look extraordinarily complex. Did you just farm it out to another company or did you just play with it?
NM: Shall we give a credit to Storm Thorgerson?
Cheering and applause from the audience.
DG: There are a combination of different films there; some were made in the early 70s and I don't know if Peter Medak made any of the ones that we still he made some of the original stuff for us for DSOTM.
NM: And there was stuff made before; the (people) walking across the bridge and clocks.
DG: Ian Eames did the clock sequence that we originally used, but on this one we didn't use for Time and all sorts of stuff done by various different people, most of it on this one, most of the more recent stuff was done by Storm Thorgerson, our old pal
NM: Who's here tonight, I believe.
RW: Aren't all the alternatives on the DVD?
NM: (Mock advert voice) I don't know Rick; are they?
NM: It would be a bargain if they were.
SM: They are indeed, including the 70s ones, which presumably will be the first time they've been seen on DVD. And how if I can pick up from what you said, how do you want to control peoples' interpretations in that sense or are you quite happy to say 'No, you interpret; that's fine'. Because some people are very they want to control peoples' interpretations. Are you happy to let people give it their
NM: Oh yes. I think so: I mean I have no idea what half of it means anyway.
NM: And I've tried asking Storm and he's not much help.
Q (Chap from Slovenia): How do you feel about your performance at Live8 and the results of your involvement in that project?
DG: Well, the performance was great and we had a wonderful time. One can only hope that it did some good and the jury's still out on that. I'm sure that it was better to have done it than to have not done it.
NM: Yes, I think that's true in terms of the jury still being out. I think it achieved certain elements of what was required and I think as far as I'm concerned the most useful thing was I think it moved the dialogue on from this idea that rock concerts, well, charity rock concerts are there in order simply to send food parcels.