Ten months after Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett died, many of his friends, collaborators and admirers gathered at London’s Barbican Center to play his music and honor his memory at an event titled The Madcap’s Last Laugh. The show, which was held on May 10th, 2007, was produced by early Floyd producer Joe Boyd and Nick Laird-Clowes of Dream Academy and featured Damon Albarn, Robyn Hitchcock, Martha Wainwright, Kate McGarrigle and Chrissie Hynde. Most notably, all four surviving members of Pink Floyd also performed, though Roger Waters was a last-minute addition.
Nearly all the performers played Barrett tunes, though Roger Waters opted to go with own composition “Flickering Flame.” The highpoint came near the end of the night when David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright took the stage for “Arnold Layne.” It was the first time that incarnation of Floyd had played together since the end of the Division Bell tour in 1994. Many fans in the audience were disappointed that Waters didn’t join his bandmates for the song, and they were further disappointed when he was the only performer of the night to not come out for the grand finale of “Bike.”
Joe Boyd later explained that Waters had to duck out early to meet his girlfriend at the airport. One supposes he could have said, “Listen, do you mind taking a cab? There’s a Pink Floyd reunion happening to honor the guy I started the band with and it would be the prefect way to close out this super important chapter of my life. The tube also goes straight from Heathrow to the city if you just wanna take that. Hell, I can send a limo or even a private helicopter. I know you’d like me to come personally, but surely you understand this is sort of a special evening, and it’ll look bad if I’m the only one not there for the finale.”
Rick Wright died of lung cancer in September of the following year. The Madcap’s Last Laugh was his final concert and the last time that Pink Floyd performed in public, though Gilmour and Mason did briefly guest at a Roger Waters Wall concert in 2011. Last year, we asked Waters if another reunion was possible and he didn’t seem very pleased by the question. “Why don’t you just ask me my favorite fucking color?” he screamed. “You know, this can’t get any more dumb than that. Everybody knows the answer. And everybody asks the question again and again!”