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  • Writer's pictureJ. Valdés

Ago today 15 years: David Gilmour plays Atom Heart Mother

Foto Ruta Floyd

A week before the concert, the news began to circulate on the internet that David Gilmour would appear at a concert within the annual Chelsea Festival held in London to perform with Ron Geesin the Atom Heart Mother suite that Geesin had written with Pink Floyd for the album. of the same name.

Without much security and still without a more or less official confirmation, we went to the festival's official website to check if there were tickets for that date and strangely, when it was a fairly certain rumor of Gilmour's performance, with just a week left and in a place so small for the public, there were still tickets.

So without thinking about it, we bought the tickets to attend the concert, even with the risk that in the end Gilmour would not perform and a few days later David Gilmour confirmed his presence.

15 years ago, on June 15, 2018 we were able to be in something that for Pink Floyd fans is something historic, listening to David Gilmour interpret it after almost 40 years since the last time, although obviously without Roger, Nick and Rick.

Foto Ruta Floyd


Is it Lulubelle III? We are in the Chelsea district, in the heart of London. The streets are littered with propaganda and posters for the Chelsea Festival, which opened yesterday. A happy cow roams freely in a small park, but it is only an icon, the representative figure of the festival. For a moment my mind played a trick on me, our beloved bovine I suppose will rest in peace for years. We are at Cadogan Hall. Cadogan Hall is a small, cozy building, it was built in 1907 to house the "Church of Christi, Scientist" Today it has "The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra" as its resident orchestra, it is located very close to the Sloane Square tube station.

Due to its size, there is only one entrance door on its main façade and another on the back, making it easy to see the artists as they come and go, since there are no other entrances. We enter: there is a lobby with a small reception, and a couple of bars where you can have champagne or beer. Our friend Lulubelle III is also installed here, we don't know if it's the one seen before or another. There is a Floydian atmosphere, with people of different ages, some with Floyd shirts, others by David Gilmour and others, with totally faded shirts over time, with the figure of the previously mentioned cow famous for being the vinyl cover which is the main piece of the concert we are going to attend.

Atom Heart Mother is part of the Chelsea Festival program, which takes place between June 14 and 27, covering different genres such as music, dance, comedy, etc. Not all performances are held at Cadogan Hall, these activities also take place elsewhere. There is a glamorous atmosphere different from other concerts, it is something more personal, within the reach of a few.

Cadogan Hall, has a capacity for 900 people, being a small place, it does not have a VIP area or reserved areas, we are all together, there is no distinction between the artists and the fans, you can be having a beer and have someone you know by your side . And indeed, it is. I am next to Storm Thorgerson, who is sitting next to me, her illness is appreciated, she leans on a cane to walk. Reluctantly, he agrees to take a picture with me. I also seem to see Guy Pratt a little further on, although I don't know for sure. Seeing all these people, in a certain way unattainable for us, with that naturalness, produces an internal well-being, which I had never felt in any concert I have attended before. It's ten minutes to seven, the start time. We enter the auditorium, there is an absolute full house. I observe some empty seats in the central part. Later they will be occupied by their owners. The correction of the spectators was maximum throughout the concert. We sit in our respective seats, I'm at the top of the auditorium, in a corner almost on top of the stage. This is like a wooden altar. The seats are also long wooden stools, numbered, it gives the feeling of being in a small abbey. A presenter appears, dressed in a tall hat with black and white polka dots, makes a short chat and the first chords begin to play. This first part is essentially snippets of Ron Geesin's work, which he plays on piano and banjo. They accompany him: Caroline Dale, to heat. The Royal College of Music Brass Ensemble. The Canticum Chorus with Mark Forkgen. Mr. Geesin was a curious character: he had read his statements from the past, scoring the goal of creating "Atom Heart Mother", as if the Floyds had taken advantage of his talent and only collaborated signed as co-authors of the work. But after listening to this first part, it seems that all the melody and creativity were left to him in the suite, since he didn't offer the slightest melody or something to review. If after nearly 40 years this is the best he's written, it leaves a lot to be desired. We arrive at the break, our predisposition changes our mood. We are going to witness what everyone is waiting for, the stellar appearance of Sir David Jon Gilmour in this second part interpreting the suite. The day before, the same concert was also performed by Ron Geesin, but without the help of Gilmour. They give the last warning and we sit down again in our place. From the side of the stage, a dark-haired woman dressed in red appears, accompanied by some small children. Yes, it is Polly Samson with her children, I suppose you have guessed where she has gone to sit. Geesin makes a preview of how the suite was recorded, he explains the recording process, while his words are accompanied on a screen, by images of the Floyds and himself at Abbey Road studios. The first thunderous ovation of the night arises. David Gilmour appears out of nowhere and is placed a little more to the left of the stage.

Foto Ruta Floyd

It's less than ten meters away, my vision is extraordinary, although due to my lateral position I practically can't see the musicians in the wind section, it doesn't matter. In this part, the Italian cover group Mun Floyd is present, consisting of four components, apart from the aforementioned musicians and Geesin on piano. It darkens everything a bit, a little smoke comes out, Gilmour puts on his black Fender Stratocaster, looks up, stares at the screen and starts this wonderful suite. "Father's Shout" rings out with its orchestrations and electric sound mix. In "Breast Milky", Caroline Dale makes her most notable contribution to the concert, the most melodious part, David making the entrance with his white Lap Steel, it's a pleasure to have him so close, to see every movement of his hand, every gesture. Now the choral part "Mother Fore" by the Canticum Chorus. Superb, majestic, creating that almost heavenly climate, up to the entrance of the battery. David accompanies making some light chords. "Funky Dung" plays and David's guitar whines like in the past... it's the main moment of his presence. He makes us vibrate with his style... his charisma... his chords. Great David. "Mind Your Throats Please" with those songs that seem to evoke some aboriginal tribe. "Remergence" seems a little shorter than the original trying to find the lost melody. It should be noted that during this part, Geesin opens the piano and begins to play pieces from the inside, like in a pirated recording that is circulating on the internet, I think it's called "The Room Pink", Richard Wright does the same job. And finally it ends with "Remergence", evoking the melodies heard before. There is no significant variation in the suite, just some part more recreated. The second big ovation of the night sounds, David greets the audience, melts into a hug with Ron and some members of Mun Floyd, who still don't seem to believe who they are acting with, their relatives were sitting next to me, the smile on their faces betrayed their joy To finish they do the encore of "Remergence". A technical analysis cannot be done, since no sound problem has arisen, nor a failure to highlight. Nor can I personally pronounce myself, it is certain that each one when listening to the suite, suggests something different inside. They have all been at a good level, from the Mun Floyd, precise, without much fanfare, to Caroline Dale, with the sweetness that she knows how to bring out on her instrument. David says goodbye to the public and disappears, leaving the applause for all the other performers, after all, they are the protagonists, David is simply a guest. Polly in unison also leaves her place. We do it next, we go out into the street hoping to have the luck that we did not have at the beginning. The Mun Floyd, Geesin appear, but not David... surely he is already far from these parts. Geesin bathes in crowds signing autographs and taking photos with everyone who asks for it, he seems to enjoy it, he has signed more autographs today than in his entire life. Any artist gets annoyed by it, but Ron still stands at the door waiting for someone else to show up. As I said before, curious character. Of course I'm going to sign the festival program that I just bought (don't be angry) I see Phil Taylor, the technician who has accompanied David Gilmour for almost half his life, he has recently written the book "The Black Strat" and I manage to take a photo with him. In short, a day to remember in life, not because of the quality of the concert, since practically what we were interested in lasted 25 minutes, but because of the feeling experienced when witnessing something that will hardly be repeated, something unthinkable to imagine: being able to listen to a performance in straight to David Gilmour or the Floyd, a forgotten piece in his musical repertoire since his collaborations with Roland Petit, at the beginning of the 70s.

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