Pink Floyd are a band with a legion of fans willing to both sacrifice themselves and kill for the band. While that may be a slight exaggeration, it’s fair to say that the prog-rock kings have created a devoted fanbase who travelled to see them across the globe. But perhaps their most impressive performance of all time came in their hometown of London.
Taking place at Earl’s Court in West London in 1980, the band delivered a stunning set that left all those in attendance awestruck and gasping for more. Below, we’re revisiting perhaps the standout moment of that landmark performance when the group play their most iconic song, ‘Comfortably Numb’.
The event, and we really do mean an event, saw the band take their concept record The Wall on the road and provide their fans with one of the most theatrical nights of rock that anyone has ever seen before. One climactic moment sees the band begin their dismantling of the aforementioned wall, a physical structure on the stage of Earl’s Court, with the performance of ‘Comfortably Numb’.
The performance is that of genuine operatic credentials and sees the band in full prog-rock flow, not only providing a stellar performance of the song, as per but a true spectacle, that no other band could legitimately pull off.
In the clip below, Roger Waters arrives at the stage bathed in the spotlight before the end of the opening verse as it fades out. Next thing you know the chorus begins from David Gilmour placed around 30 feet up in the air with lights shining from behind him on to the audience, he begins his career-defining solo. As that ends and the audience erupts with praise, the lights go out and we’re directed back to Waters.
Another similar interchange begins with the second verse as Gilmour again takes his place at the top of the wall. Another starring solo sees the crowd open-mouthed in admiration for the guitarist as he wails on his guitar. It’s a solo and a performance which has always left an impression on Gilmour.
“It was a fantastic moment, I can tell, to be standing up on there, and Roger’s just finished singing his thing, and I’m standing there, waiting,” remembers Gilmour. “I’m in pitch darkness and no one knows I’m there yet. And Roger’s down and he finishes his line, I start mine and the big back spots and everything go on and the audience, they’re all looking straight ahead and down, and suddenly there’s all this light up there and they all sort of—their heads all lift up and there’s this thing up there and the sound’s coming out and everything.
“Every night there’s this sort of “[gasp!]” from about 15,000 people. And that’s quite something, let me tell you”
Watch that moment and the entire performance of the song below as Pink Floyd deliver a stunning rendition of ‘Comfortably Numb’ live at Earl’s Court back in 1980.