Watch the Last, Transcendent Performance of “Echoes” by Pink Floyd Keyboardist Richard Wright & David Gilmour (2006)

“Gentle, unassuming and private.” These are the words David Gilmour chose in his eulogy of Richard Wright, Pink Floyd’s keyboard player and co-songwriter, who joined the band in 1964 and stayed with them through all of their major albums, leaving after The Wall and rejoining for A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Wright was the quiet one; drummer Nick Mason compared him to George Harrison, and like Harrison, he was also Pink Floyd’s secret weapon, helping to deliver many of their most career-defining songs.

Wright may rarely get much mention in songwriting tributes to Pink Floyd’s warring leaders or its tragic elfin first singer/songwriter Syd Barrett (“had his profile been any lower,” one obituary put it, “he would have been reported missing.”), but his “soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most recognized Pink Floyd sound,” Gilmour went on. “In my view, all of the greatest PF moments are the ones where he is in full flow.”

Wright’s jazz training gave an improvisatory bent. His formal music education gave him an ear for composition. He was the band’s most versatile musician, playing dozens of instruments in addition to his signature Farfisa organ, and he was equally at home writing orchestral pieces or falling into whatever groove the band cooked up, as on their sixth studio album, Meddle, which emerged from several stages of experimental methods and happy accidents like the “ping” sound Wright’s piano makes at the beginning of the sprawling epic “Echoes,” the 23-minute second side of the album.

The song continued to grow, overdub by overdub. Waters wrote lyrics, Gilmour experimented with a sound effect he’d stumbled on by plugging his wah-wah pedal in backwards. If you ask Wright, as Mojo did in their final interview with him in 2008, the year of his death, it was largely his piece. Or at least, “the whole piano thing at the beginning and the chord structure for the song is mine.”

Like so many of Wright’s compositions, “Echoes” is also a showcase for Gilmour’s soaring solos and delicate rhythm playing. The interplay between the two musicians is on transcendent display in Wright’s final, live 2006 performance of the song before he succumbed to cancer two years later, for an audience of 50,000 at the Gdańsk Shipyard in Poland, recorded on the last show of Gilmour’s On an Island tour.

This is really great stuff. The filmed performance, which appears on Gilmour’s album and concert film Live in Gdańsk, shows both Wright and Gilmour in top form, trading solos and creating the kind of atmosphere only those two could. Gilmour has said he’ll never perform the song again without Wright. It’s hard to imagine that he even could.

The band closed with the 20-plus-minute “Echoes” every night of the tour, and Wright brought out his old Farfisa just for the song. Given how long Gilmour and Wright had been completing each other’s virtuoso strengths as co-creators of instrumental moods, every performance on the tour was surely something special. But in hindsight, none are as moving as this one—the last time fans would ever have the experience of seeing Pink Floyd, or one version of them, recreate the magic of “Echoes” live onstage.

Related Content:

Pink Floyd Streaming Free Classic Concert Films, Starting with 1994’s Pulse, the First Live Performance of Dark Side of the Moon in Full

Pink Floyd Films a Concert in an Empty Auditorium, Still Trying to Break Into the U.S. Charts (1970)

Clare Torry’s Rare Live Performances of “Great Gig in the Sky” with Pink Floyd

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (12) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (12)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Bill lee says:

    The best concert that I ever saw was Pink Floyd hands down, Richard Wright was awesome on key boards to say the least!!!!

  • Ron says:

    Heb Echoes weer herontdekt en bekijk/beluister deze dagelijks, iedere keer weer genieten van Gilmour, Wright, Mason, Pratt… KIPPEVEL, iedere keer weer

  • David Rosenthal says:

    Hanging with friend just last Thursday we said the same things regarding how the PF sound completely hinged on the interplay between Dave and Rick. DSoTM is undoubtedly the greatest album ever. The Pulse show at Yankee Stadium still the best live show I’ve ever seen. Our hopes for another DG album and tour are dwindling which is sad.
    The music of Beethoven and PF still give me goose bumps. PF’s music will endure just as long!

  • Russ says:

    Yey thay will npte get Any better, cheers Russ

  • Brad says:

    Rodger Waters was a real jerk to treat Rick Wright the way he did ! Thanks to Gilmour things were restored as Waters m
    and his narsasistic ways left Pink Floyed
    Rest in peace Rick Wright

  • nick says:

    A legend ,sadly missed

  • Bryan Hughes says:

    Echoes was the first Pink Floyd song I heard, soon after MEDDLE came out. I loved it so much that I went out and bought their other albums. After becoming deaf in a motorcycle accident in ’78, and then getting a cochlear implant in 2001 (23 years deaf), Echoes was the first song I wanted to hear, just because of how it slowly started: Ping…………ping………ping….
    When I got the implant, I had to wait a month for it to heal before I could start wearing it, but they tested it first to make sure it worked. What did the test it with? A sound: Ping…ping…ping! Man, it was hard waiting after that!

    Richard Wright was the sound of the early Floyd to me, which I enjoy more the Dark Side on.

    R.I.P. Richard!

  • Bryan Hughes says:

    I HATED Waters for that! Egotistical Asshole. These years, all Waters does is tour the Wall over and over and overandoverandover…. BORING!

  • Stephen Tankersley says:

    The first PINK Floyd song I ever heard was Echoes. I was tripping on mescaline.
    Truly one of the greatest works of all time

  • Raymond P. Gribble says:

    Echoes was the first Pink Floyd song I heard! If I could only hear one song for the rest of my life, this would be the one!

  • Janice Bognar says:

    Going on 50 years of Pink Floyd being in my blood. The day the announcement came over the radio that Richard had passed I was in my car driving to work. I had to pull over. I was crying so hard. You feel such an attachment after that many years. I was lucky enough to see Richard perform multiple times. He is missed.

  • Tankflyralph says:

    Man atom heart mother festerval 1st perfrmance outdoors . Nevef wilthere b another. 1970 god be with him and xxxallfans

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.