At 69, Gilmour has the composed, self-contained presence of an old gentleman officer, a veteran of many campaigns who finds himself quietly amused to be at the front once again. His eyes twinkle and he engages thoughtfully with questions, but there is a sense that he finds the whole game slightly ridiculous. “I think a guitar solo is how my emotion is most freely released, because verbal articulation isn’t my strongest communication strength. My wife thinks that I should do interviews by listening to the questions and playing the answer on guitar.”
Gilmour has been playing since he was nine. “I was never particularly gregarious. I was quite shy, closed in. It’s a classic isn’t it, your psychiatrist will tell you, that’s how I release it, through music.” He has an elegant vocal style, smooth and precise with a quality of dreamy yearning. “I love singing. I have spent as much of my life trying to improve my singing as I have practising guitar.” But it is his extraordinary playing for which he is celebrated, with an expressive, melodic, slow-burn style that can tug tremulously at the heart strings and then shoot off into deeper space.
“It’s a magical thing, the guitar. It allows you to be the whole band in one, to play rhythm and melody, sing over the top. And as an instrument for solos, you can bend notes, draw emotional content out of tiny movements, vibratos and tonal things which even a piano can’t do.”Get Our APP
His playing has changed over the years. When Gilmour joined Pink Floyd in 1967, he was influenced by the experimental psychedelic daring of Floyd’s tragic, original frontman Syd Barrett (who Gilmour effectively replaced). “I still want to explore but I’m not as brave as I was then. I play safer now. In those early days you had to go through a lot of bad stuff to get to the good. Now I want it all to be good