Aussie Floyd give down-under alternative

A review of The Australian Pink Floyd Show at the Orpheum on October 15

, Staff

Ok, first thing’s first, yes The Australian Pink Floyd Show is a tribute band. But, they are one of the biggest and best tribute bands on the planet. Can you think of any other tribute band that is playing arenas and outdoor festivals to tens of thousands of people all over the world…? I didn’t think so.

Your next question is probably "How good are they?" For that, it is a two part answer; the first part goes back to the previous question of "Can you think of any other tribute band playing arenas…" The second part is Aussie Floyd was the entertainment at David Gilmour’s 50th birthday party and had Nick Mason, David Gilmour and Rick Wright join them on stage for a finale. I’d say this band is about the closest thing to the real Pink Floyd as we’ll ever get.

This year’s show is more of the same, but a little different too. To explain, I need to fill you in on previous years. In 2005 I first saw Aussie Floyd at the Orpheum. They opened the show with Dark Side of the Moon… The whole record… front to back… In 2006 the show was at Agannis Arena, this time they performed Animals… the whole record… front to back… including a giant warthog inflatable with bright red lights for eyes. Again, this was followed by a 30 minute encore. In 2007 the show was again at Agannis Arena with a first set of Dark Side of the Moon. All three included a greatest hits set and long multi-song encores.

Each year, the show gets bigger. Bigger stage and rigging, more lights, more lasers, more inflatable’s, longer standing ovations and additional musicians to fill in the musical holes (Of which, there are very few).

As I said before, this year is some of the same, and some different. This year, the band is performing The Wall… yup, the whole album. Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to this since I first read about it on the band’s website in February. I got tickets right at 10am when they went on sale in August. And now, the show is over, and here’s what I have to say…

Wow. To start the show, the house lights were turned off rather dramatically one by one. Then the band entered and started with "In the Flesh?" The crowd was screaming and yelling from the first note, but quickly quieted down. During the show you learn, both through music and the animation, about Pink’s (The main character of this rock opera) growing isolation through his life. In "Another Brick in the Wall Part 1", the screens showed soldiers off to war, one of whom is Pink’s father, and their ultimate death. "Happiest Days of Our Lives" and "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" we learn of his abuse at school. In "Mother" we are told of his relationship with his mother and her growing overprotection of Pink. As the show progresses we continue to see signs of Pink becoming more and more isolated as the figurative wall is built literally on the video screen. Once the first record was completed, there was a short intermission and then the lights again were turned off one by one.

Beginning the second set was "Hey You", a perfect note for note rendition that had the crowd singing along. During the last few notes of "Hey You" a TV, lamp and arm chair were moved onto the platform at the back of center stage. Bassist Ian Cattell, who was performing the role of Pink, moved to the chair and performed "Is there Anybody Out There" and "Nobody Home" from the chair. "Nobody Home" was definitely one of the highlights of the show. Following the amazing "Comfortably Numb", Cattell changed into a floor length black leather coat and put on black sunglasses, completing Pink’s isolationist transformation into a Neo-Nazi Rock Star performing his shows similar to a fascist rally, confirmed by the animations on the screen. Finally Pink broke down, his inner turmoil getting the best of him and he put himself on trial. "The Trial" is one of the stranger songs on "The Wall" as the music is very "Broadway" and sounds like something out of Les Misérables. For this song, the animations were the focal point. Each person from Pink’s past gave testimony with a different band member providing the vocals for each character. Finally Pink breaks down, his wall comes crashing down and he is left alone on stage lying on the floor. The last song of the second record, "Outside the Wall", was performed acoustic by the entire band standing around 2 microphones at center stage. As the song "faded out", the band members slowly walked out of the light and off stage. This was followed by a seemingly endless standing ovation by the entire theatre.

About four or five minutes later, the familiar opening notes of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" were played on the keyboards. The encore had begun, consisting of "Shine On", "Wish You Were Here", "Great Gig in the Sky", "One of These Days" and closed out by "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse". "Wish You Were Here" had the entire crowd singing along. "Great Gig in The Sky" featured the amazing vocal work of Amy Smith, perfectly reproducing every note from that iconic Dark Side of the Moon side A closer. "One of These Days" is an Aussie Floyd favorite, and usually features a 25 foot tall inflatable pink kangaroo. Unfortunately, the stage restrictions of the Orpheum did not allow Skippy to join the show. But, the pedal steel work of Damian Darlington was exceptional as always. "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse" were crowd favorites as on the video screen various images and videos were played during the song. At each mention of the lunatic, political figures of the last two decades were shown on the screen including Clinton, Reagan, Thatcher, Blaire, George Bush, George W. Bush, McCain, Palin, Obama, Saddam Hussein, etc. As each figure was flashed on the screen, immediate reactions were yelled from the crowd.&

Aussie Floyd again delivered a brilliant show to Pink Floyd fans of Boston. The perfect note for note renditions of Floyd, both recorded and live, is the main draw for many. For others, it’s the stage show, lighting and lasers that haven’t been seen since Floyd toured in 1994. With the disagreements between band members, and the recent passing of keyboardist Rick Wright, it is rather obvious Pink Floyd will never tour together again. For me, this is unfortunate, but as long as Aussie Floyd continues to tour the world, and make stops here in Boston every year, I will be happy. Pink Floyd can never be replaced, but many would disagree with you after last night.

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