Monday, October 8, 2012

In the Pink: "Pink Floyd: Delicate Sound of Thunder" (1989)

Dave Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright, and a score of other musicians perform to a rabid crowd at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York in this 1989 concert video.

While many fans fuss about Roger Waters' absence from the band (as if other great bands have never split up or lost members), Gilmour and company hold together some great songs despite some all too florid direction from music video icon Isham.

Opening and closing with "Shine On," Isham's camera does find incredible backstage footage of the elaborate laser light show accompanying the music. A giant round screen in the middle of the stage plays host to laser light and various film and video incarnations of the Pink Floyd songs being performed. Isham's direction through the first nine or ten songs is fluid and interesting. His camera goes slow motion, capturing the audience's rapture and the band's expertise.

Other songs featured and performed are: "Signs of Life," "Learning to Fly" (with a too short drum solo), "Sorrow," "The Dogs of War" (with a great accompanying video), "On the Turning Away" (the most subdued track), "One of These Days," "Time" (the strongest performance here), "On the Run," "The Great Gig in the Sky," "Wish You Were Here," "Us and Them" (which goes on way too long), "Money," "Comfortably Numb," "One Slip" (the second best sequence), and "Run Like Hell."

About an hour into this one hundred minute video, Isham's camera gets irritating. The songs are great, but he never strays from his directing formula until close to the end of the concert. He is a visualist without a vision, trying to mask unknown flaws or his lack of original ideas after an initial genius outpouring. On the positive side, there is nary a cameraman to be seen anywhere onstage, thanks to some expert editing.

The musicians here enjoy the set as much as the audience. Gilmour is caught grinning on occasion, something I do not think he has done on camera since the late '60's. This is not the time to mourn and complain about Waters' departure, this is the time to listen to some truly great music.

While any Pink Floyd fan should snatch this up, film fans in general might like the different take Isham gives to the concert film before becoming a victim to his own excess.

Better than most concert films out there, "Delicate Sound of Thunder" booms and roars and provides enough eye-wow to last a while. (* * * *) out of five stars.