THE AUSTRALIAN PINK FLOYD SHOW – BRIGHTON CENTRE 8.12.23
As the original Pink Floyd once said, “Hello? Is there anybody out there?”. The answer to that question was a resounding “Yes” as hordes of Pink Floyd disciples lined up outside the Brighton Centre on this cold and chilly Friday night. Anticipation was sky high as the gathered throng prepared themselves to experience Australia’s very own premier Pink Floyd tribute band. They are known (funnily enough) as The Australian Pink Floyd Show and are so respected that even David Gilmour himself has given them his blessing. I don’t normally do tribute bands, but this particular band has piqued my interest over the years, and you don’t get many bands of this ilk playing such big venues (except for perhaps The Bootleg Beatles and a small handful of others). After reading up on this gig, I discovered that The Australian Pink Floyd Show would be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the release of ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ by playing it in its entirety. The thought of this pleased me no end, as I consider this to be my favourite album by them (except for some of the early psychedelic Syd Barrett stuff) and I consider this album to be pretty damn perfect in the realms of 1970’s Prog Rock crossover appeal. As if that wasn’t enough, I’d got wind that the band tonight were to display the original sound system that Pink Floyd used in 1972/73 to promote that very same record. I think you’ll agree that this appreciation and celebration of an album is on another level and I was more than willing to ‘nerd’ the hell out of it.
During the week, I had also been listening to Roger Water’s recent re-imagining of ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ which is a stripped down, contemplative and muted affair, and it has managed to split the critics right down the middle. Whatever way you look at it, it’s an interesting concept, but I was really looking forward to seeing The Australian Pink Floyd Show tonight, playing the songs as they were originally intended.
My wife and I were feeling (un) comfortably numb whilst queuing up outside on the brisk Brighton seafront, but before we knew it, we were quickly ushered into the warmth of the venue’s large lobby, feeling at least one Pink Floyd pun lighter. I quickly scouted around for a glimpse of the original sound system that I mentioned earlier, and spotted it in the corner next to the merchandise area. It was smaller than I imagined but I suppose this was only part of it. The speakers were stacked high (as you would expect them to be) and various pieces of electronic equipment were scattered around in Pink Floyd monikered flight cases for us all to stare and wonder at. I couldn’t believe that this equipment had been transmitting ‘Dark Side’ to the masses, way before Darth Vader put in his application to join up. Many people were posing for pictures in front of this impressive and monumental Prog Rock Stonehenge, and I followed suit in a similar way. After enough photos were snapped, we decided to navigate ourselves around the Brighton Centre in search of our seats, while discovering new bar areas along the way. We had an excellent viewing point from the South Balcony and from our vantage point, we could see that the place was quickly filling up with barely an empty seat in sight. There was a good cross section of age groups in attendance too, but most people were of an older disposition which suited this all seated concert quite well (I didn’t foresee much stage diving tonight).
We were to be treated to two sets from the band tonight, and the first one was to predominantly consist of the whole of the ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ album. The second set was to be a collection of their other songs, spanning Pink Floyd’s career. A low level heartbeat sound was beginning to emanate from the speakers as people were taking to their seats, and about ten minutes later, the sound got louder as the lights dimmed and the crowd cheered. The band took to the stage with a backing tape that referenced the ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ (called ‘Speak To Me’) along with various amusing Australian wordings including ‘You Big Galah’ to put the band’s own stamp on the proceedings. The band kicked off with ‘Breathe (In The Air)’ and as soon as they started playing, you knew that they had perfected Pink Floyd’s musicianship and sound (not the sort of band you would see down The Dog And Trumpet, that’s for sure). Chris Barnes stood back amongst the dry ice before walking forward to the microphone to deliver the first line of the song in a true and authentic fashion. The similarities to the original vocal were uncanny and it sent a shiver down my spine, as we were all bathed with green lasers from the stage. This effect was pretty awesome and I’ve now realised that I need more lasers in my life. One of my favourite songs from the album was up next, in the form of ‘On The Run’. This instrumental keyboard loop of a tune was accompanied with interesting visuals on the background circular screen that was to feature prominently throughout the set to good effect. I’ve always enjoyed the trance-like feel to this song, but before we knew it, it was interrupted by a cacophony of unwelcome alarm clocks going off, before going seamlessly into the song ‘Time’. This is one of the catchiest songs on the album and was accompanied by lots of spinning clocks on the big screen.
‘Great Gig In The Sky’ was up next and this really is my favourite song from the album. The three backing singers (Emily Lynn, Lara Smiles and Lorelei McBroom) came to the fore for this song and absolutely nailed it. This was a particular “Wow” moment for me and my second spine shiver was well and truly delivered. The vocals on this song are epic and Lorelei McBroom sang in the quieter section of the song, giving it a Bluesy feel (She actually sang with the original Pink Floyd on some of their later tours and has also provided vocals for The Rolling Stones, amongst many others). ‘Money’ was up next and is probably the most popular song on the album, which was evident from the crowd’s reaction to it. I must say that Steve Mac and Luc Ledy-Lupine’s guitar work was spot on during this song (and throughout the night, come to that). ‘Brain Damage’ was shortly after, and the big screen aptly showed us moving images of President Putin along with other familiar faces (Boris Johnson, Piers Morgan, Prince Andrew and various other Fox News newscasters) which got a big cheer from the crowd. The whole thing climaxed with the last song on the album (‘Eclipse’) which went down a storm, and then the band duly informed us (amongst cheering from the audience) that they were going to play us a few more songs before the coming interval. The last of these was ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ which is probably one of Pink Floyd’s biggest hits and I personally do not know anyone that cannot sing along with the chorus. The first set was actually amazing and it was nice to hear ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ played in full, as that album is quite an emotive one for me and at various times my wife was reduced to tears (or was it because I informed her that it was her turn for the bar?).
During the intermission, we decided to go outside for a breath of fresh air, but cruelly happened to witness a drive by ‘Whamageddon’ incident in the form of someone singing ‘Last Christmas’ through a loudspeaker from within a car covered in fairy lights. We quickly went back inside the venue’s safe space and headed back to our seats in time for the second set by The Australian Pink Floyd Show. They began with a song called ‘In The Flesh’ from ‘The Wall’ album which is a song I hadn’t heard in years. This song also shared the stage with an impressively tall inflatable figure that looked like he was plucked from one of the film’s animation sequences (except this one was clutching a kangaroo’s tail). For the second song, the band went back in time to play ‘See Emily Play’ which I really enjoyed. It was impressive to see the band change their sound so effortlessly to suit this tune from their true Psychedelic years. No sooner had I taken my kaftan off, the group played the classic opening bars to ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ which was a nice homage to Syd Barrett who had his face up on the big screen. This was another highlight for me. As if that wasn’t enough, they played ‘Wish You Were Here’ which is also a definite crowd pleaser of big proportions. At one point, as were getting distracted by various very impressive lasers, dry ice and imagery on the circular screen, a huge inflatable kangaroo appeared on stage. We were flummoxed as to how they managed to make it suddenly appear without us noticing? This was definitely the night of the inflatables. The band introduced their last song (‘Run Like Hell’….not a Test Tubes cover) which featured a bassline to kill for and the band nailed it to perfection amongst a venue full of lasers (the lighting crew certainly had their work cut out tonight). As the song was in flow, the band unleashed yet another inflatable on us in the form of a giant floating Boar-like creature, complete with tusks. What a way to end a gig. But it wasn’t quite the end, as The Australian Pink Floyd Show treated us to the knock out punch that is ‘Comfortably Numb’ which got the crowd to their feet and reaching for those lasers.
As I said earlier, I don’t normally do tribute bands (I’m not sure that I’d ever seen one unless you’re counting Bjorn Again?) but tonight was something else. The whole band were absolutely top notch and it’s no surprise that some original Pink Floyd crew work behind the scenes. The attention to detail is impressive and the musicianship is faultless. My wife said afterwards that she was as happy as a bunny (or kangaroo) and I’m not about to disagree. I would go and see The Australian Pink Floyd Show again so they must be doing something right. It was time for an entertaining night to end, so we promptly set our controls for home and took an interstellar Uber drive home (not before saluting David Gilmour’s house en route).
The Australian Pink Floyd Show:
Steve Mac – guitar / vocals
Jason Sawford – keyboards
Paul Bonney – drums
David Domminney Fowler – guitar / vocals
Ricky Howard – bass / vocals
Chris Barnes – vocals
Luc Ledy-Lepine – guitar
David Parsons – keyboards
Lorelei McBroom – vocals
Emily Lynn – vocals
Lara Smiles – vocals
Mike Kidson – saxophone
Alex Francois – saxophone
The Australian Pink Floyd Show setlist:
‘Speak To Me’
‘Breathe (In The Air)’
‘On The Run’
‘The Great Gig In The Sky’
‘Us And Them’
‘Any Colour You Like’
‘On The Turning Away’
‘The Happiest Days Of Our Lives’
‘Another Brick In The Wall (Part Two)’
‘In The Flesh’
‘See Emily Play’
‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I – V)’
‘Welcome To The Machine’
‘Wish You Were Here’
‘Pigs (Three Different Ones)’
‘One Of These Day
‘Run Like Hell’