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London, Vue Cinema, 3 July 2006

First of all I have a confession to make. I am a die-hard Floyd fan... no that's not the confession - nothing to be ashamed of there. But I am one of those fans who ends up buying pretty much everything to do with the band in the sad and desperate hope of gleaning some new speck of information to give me the edge next time I'm in conversation with a herd of Floydheads. Heck, I even bought the Mostly Autumn album because Richard Wright said he liked it.

But, and this is the confession bit, I never bought PULSE on VHS.

I know...shocking. I can sense the collective shaking of Floydian heads across the world. Why didn't I buy it? Well, first of all I had already recorded it off the TV on a perfectly good stereo VHS tape. Secondly it cost 20, which, being fairly skint at the time, seemed an awful lot of money for something I essentially already had and thirdly... Well, I had been reading about this invention called DVD and figured that surely one of the first releases from EMI music must surely be the full concert of PULSE in all its digital glory. So I decided to be patient and waited and waited


You'll all be familiar with the story. So it was with great delight that I skipped along to the premiere of PULSE in the knowledge that finally it was coming, but there was an edge of trepidation too: after a summer of frankly stunning concerts from all members of Pink Floyd in various incarnations, would this twelve-year-old relic stand up to the test of time? Wouldn't it look just a little bit dated? Would we miss a certain bass player now that he's sort-of back in the fold?

Guy Pratt didn't seem to be looking forward to it. He told me before the show, 'This is so depressing, having to watch me twelve years ago.' To be fair, I don't think he was too worried about his musical performance. His concerns seemed to come from watching his twelve-year-old haircut dancing around on top of his head. Guy wasn't the only former Floyd band member at the premiere; Jon Carin, Dick Parry and Phil Manzanera were there.

Phil had been enjoying the recent tour with David and we discussed his new CD, Fifty Minutes Later. Best described as a follow-up to the excellent 6PM, it uses many of the same musicians and also his old Roxy compadres Andy Mackay, Paul Thompson and Brian Eno (for more details check out He also hinted at the plethora of extras on the forthcoming DVD of David's tour - expect plenty of behind the scenes documentary material! I also asked if he'd seen Guy's stand-up show and Phil revealed that while they were rehearsing for David's tour at Bray studios the band decided to surprise Guy by turning up en masse to Guy's show in Windsor. Apparently it was filmed, so who knows where that might turn up?

Guy also talked a little more about his book My bass and other animals - to be published in spring 2007 it will include all the best stories from his show, but also plenty of new ones that the show's running time wouldn't allow. These will also include brand new tales from this year's tour with David. Storm Thorgerson and Peter Curzon were there too; you'll be glad to hear that Storm was fighting fit and told me that he's hoping to have two books out next year; one a retrospective of his work, the second would be the long-awaited fourth edition of Mind over matter: the images of Pink Floyd.

But on with the show - The MC for the evening was Stuart Maconie who explained that what we were about to see was a 1 hour 15 minute edit of the show. In total there will be over 4 hours of material on the DVD! Sadly, there was no footage of the extra materials on the DVD, but it was certainly discussed in the Q&A that followed the screening (we're hoping to have a full transcript of this soon!). So the lights dimmed and we were treated to Shine on..., Learning to fly, High Hopes and the complete Dark side of the moon.

It's difficult to make a judgment on the picture quality as we were in a cinema and when the video images - filmed long before HD came along - were blown-up to fill the big screen they couldn't help but look grainy with plenty of colour bleeding. However, it was still a huge improvement on VHS and there were dozens of tiny details that I'd never seen before, including the chipped woodwork on David's fretboard and Garry Wallis's airborne drumsticks during Time. But the real treat was the 5.1 sound; this was an excellent mix, making full use of the surround potential.

We were bombarded by clocks at the start of Time and surrounded by coins and voices during Money. David's voice drifted through the air during Us and them and Richard's otherwordly keyboards in Any colour you like meandered throughout the room. For the vocals, the harmonies were more distinct than ever; you really could pick out David, Richard and Jon Carin's voices, even with your eyes closed. This is a much-improved edit too; there seem to be fewer wide shots of the stage and there's more of the band in close-up, really making you feel involved in the show in a way that previous Floyd films have failed to do.

A case in point is The Great Gig in the Sky - getting that close to the powerhouse trio of Sam Brown, Durga McBroom and Claudia Fontaine as they belted this out was one if the big highlights of the evening (although Guy did get a bad case of the giggles when the girls surrounded Dick Parry during his sax solo for money).

And as for the band's performance...well, there never was anything to worry about. I'd forgotten how good these concerts really were. The band were at the peak of their powers and it's great to see them enjoying themselves so much, especially Nick, whose drumming has never looked so confident and strident.

There is a generation out there who never had the opportunity to see this show in the flesh (so to speak). My nephew, now 14, is one of those. A fan of the Floyd, this year he's been lucky enough to see David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason and Roger Waters - although not necessarily on the same bill, sadly. He's also seen the excellent Australian Pink Floyd, but he's never seen the real deal. PULSE on DVD is the closest he, and others like him, will get. It's not quite the same, but it's an excellent place to start. Highly recommended if not essential!

Review by Mark Stay

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