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

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Comments (12)
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  • 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

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