David Gilmour, formerly of Pink Floyd, spoke of ghosts and the feeling of history in a recent Rolling Stone interview. It isn't only ancient history he is recalling, though, as he gazes around the nearly 2000-year-old amphitheater in Pompeii. Gilmour played here once before, 44 years ago with Roger Waters, Nick Mason, and Rick Wright. Now he's back to make history once again.
"It's a magical place. I was slightly overwhelmed yesterday when we came here for the first time. We came back here about 10 years ago, with our kids, to show them around the arena. And they were rocking around in there. But coming back yesterday and seeing the stage and everything, it was quite overwhelming really. It's a place of ghosts … in a friendly way."David Gilmour will perform in the amphitheater for a relatively small crowd. There are two shows: one was performed on Thursday and another tonight, on Friday. The legendary vocalist is billed as a solo act, appearing with a backup band, as he has for the last 20 years.Pink Floyd made a double album and video titled Live In Pompeii at the very same location back in 1972 when the now 70-year-old Gilmour was young. It was around that Dark Side of the Moon era for them. Still, he misses his friend, Rick Wright, both for musical and personal reasons.
"Yes, it would be lovely to play 'Echoes' here, but I wouldn't do that without Rick. There's something that's specifically so individual about the way that Rick and I play in that, that you can't get someone to learn it and do it just like that. That's not what music's about."David Gilmour admires the ancient amphitheater at Pompeii as beautifully preserved. It appears much as it did in 70 A.D. with a few recently installed exceptions. Just as in the days of the first concert by Pink Floyd, a temporary stage has been erected and loads of speakers surround the ancient outdoor theater. For this show, though, there are enough lasers and pyrotechnics to simulate an alien landing.
David Gilmour told Rolling Stone how lovely and unblemished the ancient theater remained despite two millennia of history.
"It's a fantastic building. It's an extraordinary place to be because it was preserved exactly as it was. There are many other sites. If you visit any other antiquity-type sites throughout the world, they're very damaged with what's gone on over the centuries since they were abandoned. But this one was just, like, sealed, so you're looking at rock surfaces and the carving of letters and names in the stones looks like it was done yesterday."
David Gilmour told the Rolling Stone that while he still tries to remain experimental, it is harder because he is so experienced, and also older.
"We were very much more experimental in those days. For me, gradually over the years, you refined your tastes in the way you do things and it becomes maybe less experimental. I think I'm still trying to be experimental on everything I ever do, but it's not as obviously way-out and experimental as what we were doing in those days. I can remember a lot of nights performing in those early years where you felt that you hit some good moments, but a lot of the time you're thinking, 'Oh, God, this isn't quite making it.' So I think that is what makes you in the end refine your view of things a little bit."
"We've got a 21-year-old and a 19-year-old here with us at the moment, and they're really enjoying themselves. My son Joe got up onstage a little while ago during soundcheck and pretended to be me with the shirt off and the strap."The David Gilmour performance on Thursday was amazing according to fans; many described it as the show of a lifetime as they exited the ancient arena, as shown in the video below. Tonight's show is scheduled in much the same way. The show runs about three hours with a short intermission according to Ultimate Classic Rock. The first set playlist begins with "5 A.M.," "Rattle That Lock," "Faces of Stone," and then that cherished classic "What Do You Want From Me." Then Gilmour continues with "The Blue," "Great Gig in the Sky," and "A Boat Lies Waiting"Pink Floyd classics such as "Wish You Were Here" and their '80s classics such as "Money" are intertwined with Gilmour's later solo works, so that whether fans prefer the older stuff, the middle ground, or the newer music, they will enjoy the whole show. The first set closes with "In Any Tongue" and "High Hopes."
David Gilmour continues after a brief intermission with Set Two. They start with "One of These Days" and then move on to that huge Pink Floyd favorite "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)."
The Pink Floyd guitarist then leads into "Fat Old Sun," "Coming Back to Life," and "On an Island." Set Two ends with "The Girl in the Yellow Dress," "Today," and "Sorrow," with "Run Like Hell" as the finale.
David Gilmour would not want to disappoint, though, so of course there is an encore. "Time"/"Breathe (Reprise)" and "Comfortably Numb" round out the completion of the performance.
David Gilmour, the Pink Floyd legendary guitarist, is still touring and has returned to Pompeii after 44 years to feel those friendly ghosts.
[Photo by Matthew Eisman/ Getty Images]