10 Years Ago: David Gilmour Launches Post-Pink Floyd Solo Tour Behind ‘On an Island’
In 2005, the classic Pink Floyd lineup – David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason – delivered an emotional curtain call, reuniting for a one-off, four-song performance at Live 8. But even amid jaw-dropping offers of wider-scale touring (including a U.S. trek worth a reported $150 million), Gilmour was adamant to let the past lie. “It’s completely mad – and we won’t do it,” he told The Sun. Pink Floyd needed Gilmour more than he needed them – and on March 10, 2006, the singer-guitarist launched a massive, five-month tour behind his third solo LP, On an Island.
Gilmour had already been carrying on the Floyd name for more than two decades: Both 1987’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason and 1994’s The Division Bell played like solo LPs, built largely on widescreen guitar melodrama and lush soundscapes. But On an Island, Gilmour’s first solo LP since 1984’s About Face, felt like a self-consciously laid-back attempt to scale back the stakes, delivering his breeziest songwriting in decades. Fittingly, the corresponding tour was a fascinating cross-section between classic Floyd grandeur and new Gilmour intimacy.
A pair of London preview gigs, held on March 6 and 7, featured a blend of band staples (“Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” “Comfortably Numb”) and highlights from the new LP. But the true kickoff show — March 10 in Dortmund, Germany — found Gilmour settling into a comfortable flow of two separate sets: the full On an Island LP followed by a selection of wide-ranging Floyd tracks, including Obscured by Clouds rarity “Wot’s … Uh, the Deal” and a cover of Syd Barrett‘s “Dominoes.”
Performing his entire solo album was a ballsy move – but Gilmour played it safe with his backing band, recruiting a bevy of all-star Floyd alumni, including former bandmate Wright and saxophone god Dick Parry. Session players Guy Pratt (bass), Jon Carin (keyboards, lap-steel guitar), Steve DiStanislao (drums) and Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera rounded out the lineup, with various rock gods (David Bowie, David Crosby and Graham Nash, even Mason) making appearances throughout the jaunt.
The most memorable show, perhaps inevitably, was the last, with the band playing for more than 50,000 people at Poland’s Gdańsk Shipyard, backed by the Polish Baltic Philharmonic. The concert, captured for the 2008 live album Live in Gdańsk, became the last Floyd-related recording to feature Wright, who died from lung cancer on Sept. 15 at age 65 – one week before the set’s release.
After this flurry of activity, Gilmour retreated back into a domestic lifestyle, returning almost a decade later with a formidable one-two punch: Pink Floyd’s ambient 2014 swan-song, The Endless River, and the following year’s ruminative solo LP, Rattle That Lock.
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