The Story Behind the Pink Floyd Song That David Gilmour Retired in 2008

On August 26, 2006, David Gilmour and Richard Wright played Pink Floyd‘s “Echoes” one final time. Staged at Gdańsk Shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland, on the final night of Gilmour’s On an Island Tour, the show was rounded out by tourmates Wright, Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera—who also co-produced Gilmour’s On the Island—Dick Parry, who played saxophone on the Pink Floyd albums The Dark Side of the MoonWish You Were Here, and The Division Bell, Guy Pratt, and Jon Carin.

Throughout the tour, which was documented on the DVD Remember That Night and the live album, Live in Gdańsk—Floyd drummer Nick Mason also joined Gilmour during his London shows for “Comfortably Numb” and “Wish You Were Here,” while David Bowie also performed the latter and the band’s 1967 debut, the Syd Barrett-penned “Arnold Layne.”

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At the end of the second set, the night also marked the final time members of Pink Floyd would perform their lengthiest track, “Echoes” from their 1971 release Meddle, and the last time Gilmour would perform with Wright, who died on September 15, 2008, at age 65.

Since that show in Gdańsk, 2006, “Echoes” has been retired by Gilmour.

Echoes,” which ran 23 minutes and 31 seconds on Meddle, could never be the same without Wright. “Yes, it would be lovely to play ‘Echoes’ here,” said Gilmour before his 2016 concert at the Amphitheatre of Pompeii—his first time there since Pink Floyd shot their 1972 concert film Live at Pompeii. “But I wouldn’t do that without Rick. There’s something that’s specifically so individual about the way that Rick and I play in that, that you can’t get someone to learn it and do it just like that. That’s not what music’s about.”

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Within its extended instrumental workings, Gilmour and Wright gave a 25-minute performance of “Echoes” in Gdańsk. “Rick really enjoyed that tour so much,” said Manzanera in 2014. “When they played ‘Echoes’ in Gdańsk, the middle part was like a musical conversation between David and Richard. I listened to all 35 concerts when I mixed the live album album, and that version of ‘Echoes’ was the longest one and the best one.”

Manzanera added, “Life is funny. It’s cosmic. It’s like Richard knew something was up, and he stayed on longer. It’s a magical song.”

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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