Recreating the sights and sounds of Pink Floyd is a hugely ambitious undertaking. But that hasn’t stopped a number of acts from choosing such a path: there’s a dedicated fan-base out there, eager to hear this music performed again live in its full glory. The Australian Pink Floyd Show were the trailblazers, rising from humble beginnings in Adelaide to become a much sought after act that now plays big arenas around the globe.
Experience Floyd are newer kids on this block, this year making the transition from cover band to fully staged concept shows. After a few performances in country Victoria, they were clearly revelling the opportunity to play in in front of a sizeable hometown crowd at an iconic venue like the Thebarton Theatre.
The challenge of putting on a Floyd show starts with the music: sure the prog rock pioneers had a few radio friend hits, but for every ‘Wish You Were Here’ or ‘On The Turning Away’ there’s a twenty minute plus epic like ‘Echoes’. And Experience Floyd don’t shy away from this complex material, in fact they seem to revel in it, providing some of the best moments in the show. Pink Floyd’s orchestral approach to rock music requires immense attention to detail and the arrangements here are spot on, the band doing a fine job at recreating the sounds of the original.
The other great task of a show like this lies in staging the visual spectacle for which Floyd were renowned. The tribute act does an excellent job here as well, with the distinctive light circle backdrop and video projections effectively synchronised to the music. Clearly, there were many painstaking hours put into developing this show and the hard work has paid off.
There was a great deal of talent on display among the eleven-person strong ensemble (that needed every bit of the Thebby stage). Daniel Hunter skilfully recreated all those David Gilmour guitar solos, Paul Bindig nailed every sound on the keyboard (reminding us just how important the late Richard Wright was to the overall aesthetic of the original outfit), while Jason Miller on the drums executed each fill with precision. Three backing singers were also fundamental in establishing the feel of the show.
Matt Goodluck perhaps had the most challenging job, covering multiple vocalists and acting as a frontman for an act that had no single frontman. With all the instrumental sections there were also stretches where he was absent from the stage. Goodluck competently juggled these demands, but really found his focus in the second act, which started with a selection of material from The Wall. This allowed the singer to inhabit a larger-than-life-persona, somewhere in between the ‘Pink’ character from that concept album and the bravado of Roger Waters; it was at this point that everything really gelled.
The setlist alone was very impressive: lasting a shade over three hours and covering material from 1971 to 1994, it included all the well-known classics you could ask for and some more obscure fan favourites. The highlight of the night came in the encore with ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’, delighting the crowd (and one or two fans, in particular, who’d been enthusiastically calling out for it). Jo Christie’s flawless vocal performance on the song was simply stunning and very much deserved the standing ovation it received.
‘Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)’ also provided a great moment with a children’s choir (courtesy of Immanuel Primary School) bringing fantastic energy to the song.
Experience Floyd are a talented outfit, giving audiences exactly what their name promises. In their skilful celebration of the source material, they remind us just how incredible this music truly is: and surely that should be the aim of any tribute act.
By Matthew Trainor