Wish You Were Here?

PF7

In November 1974 Pink Floyd launched their British tour at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall with a performance of Shine On You Crazy Diamond which was still a work in progress at the time. Just over 40 years later, The Australian Pink Floyd Show kick off the British leg of their Welcome To The Machine European tour by playing to a capacity crowd at the same venue.

There are tribute bands and then there is The Australian Pink Floyd Show. The group – lets just call them TAPFS from here on in – redefine what it means to be a tribute band. They have sold over 3 million concert tickets in 35 countries and played at Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s 50th birthday party. They have incorporated members of Pink Floyd’s touring band and road crew into their own set up and Floyd drummer Nick Mason is on record as stating: “They are probably better than us”. Such is their sway with the Pink Floyd fan base that they are able to charge premium prices for VIP meet and greet tickets.
PF5

Tonight’s show starts with a darkly brooding Astronomy Dominie which warms up both band and audience before the familiar keyboard wash of Shine On You Crazy Diamond leads us into a performance of the entire Wish You Were Here album. Guitarists Steve Mac and David Domminney Fowler share David Gilmour’s guitar parts evenly throughout the show but it is Mac who gets the first opportunity to show what he can do with a perfect reproduction of Gilmour’s clean, bluesy lines.
PF1

As Mike Kidson plays his sax solo a photo of Syd Barrett appears on Mr Screen, the circular projection screen that is practically a Pink Floyd trademark, and I have to confess to feeling a bit emotional. There definitely is a real sense of reverence to what TAPFS do; they clearly love and care about the music and about carrying on the Floyd legacy. That said, they are not afraid to have a bit of fun with it all as well. Floyd’s rich iconography is mined at every opportunity for Australian references: the robotic handshake on the Wish You Were Here logo becomes a stylised kangaroo, the Dark Side Of The Moon prism is in the shape of a map of Australia and the radio clips at the beginning of Wish You Were Here are replaced by a montage including the Neighbours theme tune, Crocodile Dundee, Men At Work and Kylie.
PF3

Opening with a storming In The Flesh, the second half of the show includes Time, Breathe, Great Gig In The Sky and Money from Dark Side Of The Moon along with post-Waters songs Learning To Fly and High Hopes. Backing vocalists Lorelei McBroom – an actual Pink Floyd veteran, Emily Lynn and Lara Smiles come into their own during Great Gig In TheSky as you might expect, with Smiles in particular singing her guts out during the first section. As a fan of the earlier, more experimental Floyd, I was happy to hear One Of These Days get an airing as an additional band member joined the stage. If the idea of an inflatable pink pig seems a bit silly [There is absolutely nothing silly whatsoever about an inflatable pink pig. Ed] then an inflatable pink kangaroo is even sillier. He (or she, I couldn’t tell) goes down a storm with the audience though. Young Lust continues to raise the temperature before Comfortably Numb brings things to a crescendo with a solo from Fowler to which only the word “blistering” can do justice. The first encore brings the Pink Floyd story up to date with Louder Than Words from last year’s Endless River album and the second, Run Like Hell, sends the rapturous audience home happy.
PF6

I’m still slightly uncertain about the whole tribute band thing but the reality is that none of us will ever get the chance to see the real Pink Floyd again. For the audience tonight, that really didn’t seem to matter. Shine on.

John Scott

 

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