By now, we should know better than to listen to any musician who says that there is no way he'll ever reunite with their old band. The Eagles famously called their reunion tour "Hell Freezes Over" in a sly tribute to the band’s former animosity with each other.
In truth, all those hard feelings usually get smoothed over by the passage of time or the bushelfuls of cash thrown at them by concert promoters, whichever comes first.
No band has resisted the reunion temptations quite like Pink Floyd, where the bad blood between Roger Waters and David Gilmour reached such a point that the two men didn’t speak for years, contacting each other through intermediaries when decisions had to be made on greatest hits albums, reissues and the like.
We thought we had it as good as we were ever going to get it when the four men that comprised the Floyd’s classic '70s lineup (Waters, Gilmour, Richard Wright, and Nic Mason) buried the hatchet long enough to perform at Live 8 in London back in 2005. It was a triumphant albeit abbreviated return, as they sounded fantastic and even embraced at the end of the set. All of us fans had a measure of closure, which became even more important somehow when Wright passed away in 2008.
So what are we to make of Gilmour’s surprise appearance with Waters at a benefit performance in Oxfordshire, England on Saturday?
The two played four songs, Gilmour on lead guitar, Waters trading his bass in for an acoustic, with an ad hoc backing band in tow. Imagine the lucky souls in the crowd of 200 who were treated to the duo harmonizing on the old '60s chestnut “To Know Him Is To Love Him” before tearing into three Floyd warhorses: “Wish You Were Here,” “Comfortably Numb,” and “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2).”
To paraphrase one of Waters’ classic lyrics, you don’t need no education to put two and two together here. The last two songs of the set were featured on The Wall, an album which is the basis for the live shows that Waters is planning this year. He apparently asked Gilmour at one point to participate and was turned down, but now it seems anything is possible.
The absence of Wright in any possible Floyd reunion cannot be overlooked; his spectral keyboards and hauntingly deadpan vocals are an integral part of "Dark Side Of The Moon" and "Wish You Were Here," which, for my money, represent the band at its absolute peak.
On the other hand, the keyboardist’s role in the band had been marginalized at the end of the '70s due to a rift with Waters and his own personal problems. Wright was a nonfactor in the recording of The Wall. So this might be the project in which a version of Floyd without Wright could satisfy even the purists.
There are some other possible setbacks here. Gilmour might not want to relive the album that was Waters’ baby from day one and created so much of the disharmony that led to the band’s breakup. And, vice versa, Waters might not want to share the spotlight on such a personal project that contains myriad autobiographical elements.
As fans though, we can dream that all that pettiness gets put aside. After all, the technical demands of the original Wall shows were such that the band performed it just a precious few times 30 years ago. The demand is overwhelming, not just from those who were there the first time around, but from the millions of fans who’ve discovered their majestically melancholy music since then.
I don’t think we’ll see a full-fledged reunion, at least not this time around. But, if I were a betting man, I would place a wager that at some point during Waters’ tour we’ll see Gilmour perched on top of The Wall to blast out his monumental solo on “Comfortably Numb.”
Is it a long shot? I don’t think so. After all, this is the band whose live shows taught us that pigs can indeed fly.