How many reunions will it take before we’ve finally seen the end of Pink Floyd? I’m not complaining, mind you, but marveling at how durable an outfit the band has been for their fifty-year, on again, off again history. Yet aside from the occasional charity show, they’ve mostly been off, having supposedly called it quits after 1994’s Division Bell. As the A.V. Club reminds us, “Pink Floyd has not really existed since Pulp Fiction was in theaters.” Now, after twenty years of dormancy, they’re back with a new album, The Endless River—David Gilmour and Nick Mason’s reworking of Division Bell sessions—due out November 10th (see a tracklist and hear teasers here). “It’s a shame,” Gilmour tells Rolling Stone, “but this [album] is the end.”
Yeah, we’ve heard that before. This time, it’ll probably stick. Keyboardist Richard Wright died in 2008 (the new album is a tribute to him), Gilmour and Roger Waters have had a mostly icy relationship, and drummer Nick Mason has channeled his passion, and fortune, into classic cars. But it does seem likely that they’ll take the stage again, at least for a one-off performance, as they have a handful of times throughout the years. Today in tribute to their longevity, or their refusal to fade away, we bring you a few of those reunion shows, beginning at the top with their Live 8 reunion concert in London’s Hyde Park in 2005, a benefit organized by their old friend Bob Geldof to coincide with the G8 summit. This concert is the last time all four members would play on stage together, joined by a host of guest musicians, and they sound amazing. Gilmour ruled out any further shows after this, but then two years later, he joined Waters onstage at an event for the Hoping Foundation to benefit Palestinian children. See them play for an intimate crowd of just 200 in the video above.
While Roger Waters officially left the band in 1985 on acrimonious terms, he has continued to tour both his solo material and his Floyd music, performing a solo version of the The Wall Live to huge audiences in North America and Europe since 2010. At one of those shows, in 2011 at London’s O2 Arena, Gilmour joined him onstage—atop the wall—for “Comfortably Numb” (above), then returned with a mandolin, and Nick Mason with a tambourine, for “Outside the Wall” (below).
It seems cynical to call the remaining members’ occasional appearances together opportunistic since they generally only occur at charity events. But given how long it’s been since they’ve released anything new, we might well ask, as the title of their 2011 remaster project has it, “Why Pink Floyd?” Why new music, and why now? Since their spaced-out psychedelic debut, they’ve made increasingly thoughtful, finely-crafted albums for very patient listeners, veering into rock opera, stretching out into space opera, becoming more and more cinematic in scope. It’s those long, complex arrangements (like Wish You Were Here and 1977’s Animals), tied together by Gilmour’s soaring guitar lines and Wright’s moody keyboards, that hold up best, I think, at least for devoted fans, and that’s exactly what we can expect from The Endless River. See Gilmour and Mason discuss the new album, and hear some stunning audio samples, at the band’s website.