This live double-LP set documents Pink Floyd’s enormously successful 1987-88 world tour. Although it was inevitable, releasing a live record is still a bit strange, since Pink Floyd’s concerts have become about as musically exciting as a visit to the dentist’s office — the show’s the thing, and this album is the sonic equivalent of a glossy tour program.
Pink Floyd’s previous record, A Momentary Lapse of Reason, had a suspiciously New Age ring to it, and even this, a live record, tends to fade into the background. Whereas the band used to match its special effects with headlong musical forays into the heart of the sun, it’s now plying an often vacant slickness. Welcome to the McFloyd.
The band takes great pains to reproduce the studio versions of its classics, despite the departure of mastermind Roger Waters. But even some of the more emotional songs, such as “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and “Run Like Hell,” are delivered by a group of musicians who seem to be just going through the motions; none of lead guitarist Dave Gilmour’s solos catch fire.
No mention is made of where the tracks were recorded, although it doesn’t make any difference; on this tour, one show was probably pretty much like the next. Pink Floyd is celebrating and cashing in on its past glories, playing all its hits for kids who wish they’d been around when Ummagumma came out.
Delicate Sound of Thunder went up with the first joint French-Soviet space mission, making it the first rock album to be played in space. That’s fitting, since, at best, it’s a decent record to space out to.