With 45 years having elapsed since David Gilmour and Pink Floyd filmed their aesthetic and musical masterpiece concert documentary film Live at Pompeii, Gilmour has returned once again to revisit the ghosts of Pompeii for another concert amongst the Roman ruins of the Amphitheatre of Pompeii.
While the first time around saw Pink Floyd playing to an empty amphitheatre with only the mossy crevices of the stones as audience, for David’s newest film, there is an actual audience watching him play, making these the first people to enjoy an entertainment spectacle there in almost 2,000 years, which was undoubtedly a magical treat for those lucky enough to witness the show.
David Gilmour has remarked on how he felt trepidation mingled with feelings of joy and excitement to be back at Pompeii playing another concert and noted that despite how many people the amphitheatre originally would have held, the natural state of decay would only allow audience members to observe from the floor rather than the higher circular stone seating which would have once been reserved for those witnessing fierce gladiator fights, as NPR report.
“It felt like it was a very special gig to be doing, we were in a run of fairly special gigs, but this one was more nerve-wracking and more exciting. It was small because the seating around the outside, which would have held another 10,000 people or so, is still covered in earth and grass and people can’t sit there. So we had a limit on the number of people who could be there in the audience only on the floor itself.”
It is clear that David Gilmour fervently feels that the setting of a concert should be one that is rife with atmosphere, and in picking Pompeii for his newest concert film he has managed to invoke the beauty of nature coupled with sublime ancient history and has sought to tie them both together seamlessly for posterity with his show.
“That moment at the beginning of the show, when you got the last bit of sunlight circling down behind Vesuvius over the top of this fantastic arena, it’s beautiful.”
Many fans will be wondering if the timeless song “Echoes” has made it onto David Gilmour’s new concert in Pompeii. There are very few guitarists alive today who, without any words, can conjure up the scenes of delicious melancholy and longing that this song pierces the soul with, but Gilmour has a very good reason for choosing to omit this song from his set. David has said that he wouldn’t feel comfortable playing this song without the chemistry he shared on it with Richard Wright, as noted by Rolling Stone.
“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 (@_DavidGilmour) September 29, 2017
While Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii was more of an impromptu and experimental affair with a barefoot David Gilmour at one point sitting on the floor playing slide guitar on “A Saucerful of Secrets,” Gilmour’s latest musical film will be a much more polished affair directed by Gavin Elder, who worked with David on another concert film in 2008.
David Gilmour was happy to hand over control of his new Pompeii film to Elder, whose artistic vision he trusted implicitly, and let him get on with the filming process, according to Rolling Stone.
“I tried not to say too much to him about what I wanted. My plan is to get people who have an artistic vision themselves and see what they can do. I don’t want it to be rigid or controlled. I don’t know how to make films; I’m a guitar player. And Gavin knows what he’s doing.”
As can be imagined, shooting the new musical film was fraught which challenges, the first of which was deciding exactly how to begin the filming process in the amphitheater, a process which took four months. This included working out quite important details such as how to get the musical gear and other items inside which was eventually accomplished by a purpose-built ramp shuffled in, something the Romans wouldn’t have had to contemplate when preparing for their solemn and majestic past spectacles.
As no cameras were allowed onto the floor of Pompeii’s amphitheatre they had to be set on the sides, and they were only allowed to command a single Steadicam which had to be kept constantly on the move, something which made filming the concert somewhat difficult. However, the singularly brilliant idea of using a drone to film from afar was conceived, and David Gilmour pondered the thought of the drone when contrasted with the magnificent vision of Vesuvius.
“We got shots from maybe a mile away. You’ve got this little disc down there, which is the arena with Vesuvius behind it, and the light and the smoke and light coming out of this little disc and you zoom towards it and it’s fabulous.”
David Gilmour’s Live at Pompeii performance was just released on September 29 and is available now on DVD, Blu-ray, 4-disc set or CD.
[Featured Image by Gregorio Borgia/AP Images]