Although it’s safe to say there’s always been a strong blues influence in David Gilmour’s guitar playing, we don’t often get to hear him play in a straight-ahead, full-on blues context.
This is why this video—taken from the 1988 Les Paul & Friends concert in Brooklyn, New York—is so interesting.
It shows Gilmour, wearing his finest late-Eighties garb, jamming on a I-IV-V blues progression in G with Jan Hammer on Keytar and Tony Levin on bass. If nothing else, It’s fun to witness the Pink Floyd guitarist’s raw power in this context.
“Is it correct to think there’s something of a blues guitarist in you?” asked Billboard of Gilmour in 2006.
“I am a lover of all sorts of different music,” Gilmour replied.
“I love blues, and every piece of music that I have listened to has become an influence. But you’re right, there’s a distinct blues influence within what I do, but at the same time, I am not frightened to step out of that. I don’t even think whether I play the blues or not, I just play whatever feels right at the moment. I also will use any gadget or device that I find that helps me achieve the sort of sound on the guitar that I want to get.”
As Guitar World noted in 1988:
[His] taste [comes] basically out of the blues while young turks like Yngwie and his ilk basically shun the blues in favor of classical scales. As far as Gilmour is concerned, you can keep your Paganini scales and flourishes. He prefers the simple boogie-woogie of John Lee Hooker and the dirty urban blues of Muddy Waters, which he pays tribute to on [Pink Floyd’s] “Dogs of War,” a sort of symphonic slow boogie blues with a whole section of sample cellos droning that familiar ostinato riff.
Simple, yes, but full of feeling, especially when Gilmour sails over the top with his distinctive stereo delay sound, warm and slightly wet, as opposed to the standard dry, treble-piercing shrieks that many young guitar phenoms seem to prefer today.