Both long term Pink Floyd fans and newcomers were stunned by an outstanding performance from The Australian Pink Floyd Show with numbers from the 60’s to the 90’s at Blackburn’s King George’s Hall.
Standing in torrential rain in a field in Oxfordshire seriously clouded my judgement and obscured the fact that The Australian Pink Floyd Show is more than just an adequate tribute band.
It was somewhat pertinent when I was given a second chance, this time safely indoors, that they began their magnificent concert with Obscured By Clouds. Whether this was chosen because metaphorically we have all been obscured from live music or whether the rhythm throughout it has a distinctly antipodean beat I don’t know. This rather odd choice, which the Floyd have to my knowledge never played live and has only recently been resurrected by Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets, was a stunning opener.
Despite odd forays, the first half of the concert was dominated by Dark Side Of The Moon. Time was up first, then an incredible rendition of Great Gig In The Sky, and although vocal responsibility was shared, it matched the original almost note for note. Money including a memorable sax solo and Us And Them followed and together represented an effort in which they played all the right tunes and in the right order. They were all delivered with magnificent respect and aplomb, accompanied by graphics with lots of Australian links, was this a tongue-in-cheek replication of the original graphics or just a ruse (see what I did there?)
Visits to The Wall were made with a dynamic version of In The Flesh and by completing the first set with Another Brick In The Wall . A huge teacher inflatable remarkably similar to the one used by Floyd ominously scrutinising the audience for a while during the interval took up most of the stage to make sure they weren’t eating their pudding!.
Before the last numbers, the only spoken communication began with an obligatory “G’ day” and included the announcement that there would be a couple more before the interval then more treats would follow. During the break, one of the youngest members of the audience, Dexter, a self-confessed metal fan gave his thumbs up. His grandad would be proud of him as was his mum, Alison, as we joined the audience in rapturous applause thankfully free of the typical only- here- for- one- song crew, who left after hearing Money.
The couple in front who had waited 2 years told me they had held on to their tickets and were rewarded for their patience even more as the second half began with Astronomy Domine, with all its psychedelic cosmic sonic experience intact. They cleverly merged post-Dark Side material with this visit to the Barrett era, to please us who were there at the beginning, by this tribute to Syd, following it up by combining the 2 parts of Shine On You Crazy Diamond. This concluded with a full-screen image of our poet and piper!!
A montage of soundbites paid homage to their homeland – Neighbours, AC/DC, Kylie and then the audience was rent asunder with men down under by sticking with Wish You Were Here as they then delivered the title track of the album.
Now I know sheep are synonymously linked to Aussie folklore so it was interesting that they whirled into the next part of the set with a raucous version of Sheep from the Animals album. I wonder how many of the loving audience was aware that Sheep and Shine On You Crazy Diamond were introduced to Floyd fans back in 1973 when they premiered Dark Side Of The Moon.
By now the audience was at the mercy of the band and in Mother gladly responded to the “Mother should I trust the government?” line with a resounding “No !!” . Thus displaying that the band was also in tune with our current political state.
The amazing lasers filled the hall throughout the set, worthy of a Floyd presentation, were never more so when they synchronised with Sorrow, which apart from the clever merging of What Do You Want From Me? and Keep Talking (both from Division Bell) in the first half were the only visits to non-Roger Waters influenced music. An effervescent One Of These Days was swiftly followed by a driving Run Like Hell. Now that we are getting bums back on seats in live concerts bums were definitely off seats as the audience was roused into bouncing along to it. As did the huge inflatable Pink kangaroo, which unlike the floating pig, was not released to float off into the freezing night sky! A standing ovation followed and was repeated after a predictable encore of Comfortably Numb that had many singing along!
So do you think you can tell Pink Floyd from their Australian counterparts? Whether you can or not, no one can deny that the show was thoroughly entertaining and more than touched all the buttons and controls for a willing and hearty audience who know the band we grew up with can never be assembled to play our favourites.
Coincidently, the night sky was clear on the frosty journey home and was full of stars shining like crazy diamonds! Let’s hope The Australian Pink Floyd Show don’t let their light be dimmed and continue to introduce Floyd’s music to youngsters like Dexter (who I believe is a burgeoning axeman himself) and satisfying us older Floyd septuagenarians and those in between! Careful with that axe, Dexter!