09/14/16 Living Arts Centre, Mississauga
09/15/16 Centre in the Square, Kitchener
09/16/16 Bell Centre, Montreal
09/17/16 Grande Theatre du Quebec
10/07/16 Rockhal, Luxembourg
10/09/16 De Oosterpoort, Netherlands
10/10/16 013, Tilburg, Netherlands
10/11/16 Cirque Royal, Brussels
10/14/16 Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
10/15/16 Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
10/17/16 Oxford New Theatre
10/18/16 Colston Hall, Bristol
10/20/16 Guildhall, Portsmouth
10/21/16 Brighton Centre, Brighton
10/22/16 Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith
10/24/16 Regent Theatre, Ipswich
10/25/16 Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
10/27/16 Liverpool Empire Theatre
10/28/16 First Direct Arena, Leeds
10/29/16 O2 Apollo, Manchester
10/31/16 De Montfort Hall, Leicester
11/01/16 Cliffs Pavilion, Southend Essex
11/03/16 G Live, Guildford
11/04/16 Bournemouth Int'nl Centre
11/05/16 Opera House, Blackpool
11/07/16 City Hall, Sheffield
11/08/16 Grimsby Auditorium, Grimsby
11/10/16 Usher Hall, Edinburgh
11/11/16 The SSE Hydro, Glasgow
11/12/16 Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle
After decades apart, the core foursome of Pink Floyd finally reunited in 2005 for Live8 for a one-off charity performance, only to have keyboardist Rick Wright pass away a couple years later in 2008, permanently scuttling the chances of any other reunion shows. And with David Gilmour touring, but not coming within two states of Minnesota, what was a fan to do except see the Pink Floyd experience faithfully recreated in an evening from The Australian Pink Floyd Show, who played the State Theatre last week.
The ensemble, which began in Adelaide Australia in 1988 is arguably the finest tribute show to the legendary band, complete with a stunning light and laser show, giant inflatable, video animations, LED screen technology and most importantly, accurately recreates the music with a tight band lineup and sonically perfect quadrophonic sound mixing.
The music is first and foremost to the band, which largely remains faceless, eschews any costuming or skits, and revolves around the three longstanding core members Steve Mac – guitar/ vocals (1988–present); Colin Wilson – bass / vocals (1993–present); and Jason Sawford – keyboards (1988–present), with the newest additions being recently added vocalist Chris Barnes and bassist/vocalist Ricky Howard.
Modeled largely on the late 80’s David Gilmour-led era of Momentary Lapse of Reason/Division Bell, the band’s two hour-long sets more than thrilled the mostly baby boomer crowd on this, their Best of The Best Tour, which saw them playing songs that almost everyone in the audience knew from classic rock radio, or the original legendary best-selling albums.
Syd Barrett was on the minds early as the ten-piece opened with the first parts of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ (and would follow soon after with ‘Wish You Were Here’), complete with circular lighted LED screen, three swaying-in-time background vocalists, and sax player Mike Kidson who would appear then disappear as his parts surfaced.
‘Time’ had the traditional clock images on-screen and after ‘On the Turning Away’, a flash montage of Australian images mixed with Floydian iconic logos reminded everyone that the band was indeed from down under. As a Dark Side of the Moon-era ‘Brain Damage’ and ‘Eclipse’ played, a series of political images were on-screen, mainly of the UK’s recent Brexit vote to leave the EU and the related politicians, obviously making a sublime statement someone like Roger Waters himself, would have done.
The band kept conversation to a bare minimum, wisely focusing instead on the music and getting as many songs into the setlist as possible, and had everyone clapping along with opening set closer, ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part 2’, which even found the most passionate fans raising their arms in an X-shape, like was done in the scene of ‘The Wall’ film.
The 1977 Animals album was well represented with the second-set opening ‘Pigs (Three Different Ones)’ then the band jumped ten years forward to the Gilmour-fueled single, ‘Learning to Fly’. Guitarists Mac and David Domminney Fowler particularly shone, often effortlessly crunching the faithful riffs during solos and sometimes adding a subtle note or two to make things their own.
The multiple lead vocalists (Barnes, Howard, Mac, Fowler) re-creating those Waters and Gilmour parts, all flowed smoothly and had the pitch and tone of the original recordings.
‘The Great Gig in the Sky’ from 1973’s Dark Side, was a vocal showcase for all three background singers (Emily Lynn; Lara Smiles; and Lorelei McBroom) to each take a verse, with singer McBroom finishing the song and rising it to heights that rivaled the Clare Torry original vocal.
‘What Do You Want From Me’ and ’Sorrow’ were somewhat setlist surprises, supplanting bigger hits like ‘Money’, but were a great spotlight for guitarists Mac and Fowler, who displayed vocal skills in addition to the exemplary guitar work.
The throbbing bassline of ‘One of These Days’ also brought out the lasers and huge inflatable pink kangaroo nicknamed Skippy (a suitable Australian substitute for Pink Floyd’s own inflatable pig), which had two hidden road crew members pushing against it from the back to bob (or hop) in time to the song.
After a set-closing ‘Comfortably Numb’, the audience shouts of “one more song!” were answered with a cutting ‘Run Like Hell’, with slashing, dueling riffs from Mac and Fowler, like on the original and the crowd standing and clapping along once more.
The mark of an ideal tribute band is to be able to close your eyes and to listen to the live music faithfully re-create the spirit of the original, then open your eyes and feel like the visuals are authentic as well. With said criteria, The Australian Pink Floyd Show succeeds on both counts, and helps answer the question today, in 2016, as to which one’s Pink.
The Australian Pink Floyd Show at State Theatre, Minneapolis (08 Sept 2016)