David Gilmour in surprise guest spot with Ben Watt

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Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour made a surprise appearance last night with Ben Watt at London’s Islington Assembly Hall.

Gilmour has guested on the ex-Everything But The Girl’s new solo album Hendra, a collaboration with ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler – who also featured last night, performing three songs in Watt’s engaging set.

Towards the end of an enjoyable two-hour show, which highlighted a large part of his really good new folk-rock album, the amiable Watt (whose speaking voice is astonishingly reminiscent of Steven Wilson) began talking about meeting a musician at a party, who had offered him the chance to listen to their demos and ended up guesting on the album.

He then introduced Gilmour to the stage as he took his place behind a lap steel for a rendition of The Levels. Next the Floyd icon strapped on a trusty black Strat for a three way guitar duel with Butler and Watt for Young Man’s Game, his fluid notes easily identifiable and slicing through the electric atmosphere in the crowd.

Gilmour finally re-appeared for an encore of Spring before leaving Watt to end the night with a poignant Old Flame.

It marked a rare return to the public spotlight for Gilmour, who has been busy working on his fourth solo album, a follow-up to 2006’s hit record On An Island, slated for a possible late 2014 release.

Watt’s performance, whilst hardly prog, was a very enjoyable show, based mostly around Hendra, a spirited mix of guitar-led folk rock which occasionally veers off into something akin to Dire Straits territory – something emphasised by the cranked-up duel between Butler and Watt on Nathaniel. He also performed a couple of songs he’d penned with Robert Wyatt for his 1982 EP Summer Into Winter, namely_ Walter And John_ and A Girl In Winter.

In all, a far cry from Everything But The Girl’s hipster cool pop, and all the better for it. And yes, Prog reckons we were the only one’s there clad in a Rush t-shirt!

Gilmour, Watt and Butler: Young Man’s Game