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PINK FLOYD PULSE DVD Preview
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 http://www.manzanera.com/). 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
Related>> Pulse review
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