Flashback: Pink Floyd Perform 'Comfortably Numb' at Knebworth in 1990

Earlier this month, Pink Floyd announced plans for a live album documenting their 1990 performance at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, England, on June 30th, 1990.

It was a part of an enormous all-star show that also featured Paul McCartney, Genesis, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Robert Plant with surprise guest Jimmy Page, Status Quo, and Tears for Fears.

“There is something special about Knebworth,” drummer Nick Mason said in a statement. “We all still have fond memories of playing there in the Seventies, and this show was no different. As a North London boy, this was almost a home game, but with the added delight of being the reassembly of the band after a fairly mega tour that had lasted for well over a year.”

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As Mason says, the group toured heavily between 1987 and 1989, but they’d been off for a nearly a year when they reassembled for Knebworth. The tour re-established them as one of the biggest bands in the world after a very difficult patch in the Eighties when they parted ways with Roger Waters and battled in court over the rights to the name.

Anticipation was high for their Knebworth set even though rough weather had been a problem throughout the day and there was a dustup backstage over whether Floyd or McCartney should be the last act to take the stage. Floyd ultimately won out, but that didn’t quite solve the problem.

“One of my better memories was the two managers of Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd arguing by the side of the stage at the closing moments of Paul McCartney’s set — which was running over, probably quite deliberately,” recalled album artist Aubrey Powell. “And of [Floyd manager] Steve O’Rourke saying, ‘Get Paul McCartney off the stage right now!’ And Richard Ogden, who was Paul McCartney’s manager, saying, ‘Well, you go and drag him off then!’ They were nearly at blows with each other.”

By the time Floyd took the stage, heavy rains and intense winds hit the festival grounds. “I remember thinking, ‘You can hide from this rain or you’ve got to embrace it,’” Gilmour said on the Lost Art of Conversation podcast. “There’s only one thing to do: Get out there and enjoy it.’”

Here’s video of “Comfortably Numb” from their set. All appears remarkably calm despite the weather and the battle between the Floyd and McCartney camps.

Live at Knebworth 1990 is the third live album from the post-Waters incarnation of Pink Floyd. The only Waters-era live album is Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980–81 from 2000. That’s due to the simple fact that they didn’t record any shows from their stadium-rock days of the Seventies.

“We just hit a period where everyone was paranoid about bootleggers and we didn’t tape shows,” Mason told Rolling Stone in 2018. “It’s great we did the Pink Floyd at Pompeii thing, but I’m sorry we never filmed and recorded a Dark Side, Animals, or Wish You Were Here show.”

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