Closing in now on 56 years of age, my bucket list of live acts to see has grown progressively smaller. Some acts, such as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Elvis, will remain forever on that missed list. But perhaps the one I regret most missing in the days of my youth is the mighty Pink Floyd. Even as a young lad, I was fascinated and captivated by the wonderfully weird cover art by Storm Thorgerson. The band’s sound, too, had a remarkably unique timbre, with the emotionally drenched guitar work and soothing voice of David Gilmour colliding with the awkwardly angular bass lines and edgy vocals of Roger Waters. They created musical tension on tape, and interpersonal tension in real life, leading to the band’s division and ultimate demise. With the passing of Richard Wright, the ship of seeing the authentic Pink Floyd definitively sailed off into the night.
Seeing The Australian Pink Floyd Show in Denver, therefore, was never going to substitute for the real thing. But damn if it didn’t come pretty dang close! Not that anyone on stage had any physical resemblance to the original members, but the sound…the light show…the vibe. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening with just enough Aussie modifications to add some visual humor to the gig. The crowd was a mature bunch, some clearly ready to transport back to their younger days of drug-infused classic rock. Judging from their response, The Australian Pink Floyd Show successfully provided a musical time machine that spotlighted the fantastic music and creative visuals that cemented Floyd’s reputation as a stellar live act in the 70s and 80s.
The first set showcased the entire “Dark Side of the Moon” album, celebrating is uncanny 50 year as the third best-selling studio album of all time, played in sequential order. While I generally feel like I never need to hear the overplayed songs of that record ever again, the live renditions were really well done, with the backup trio of Lorelei McBroom, Emily Lynn and Lara Smiles adding valuable layers of vocal sheen. Grant one additional point towards authenticity, since McBroom toured with the original Pink Floyd on the “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” and “Delicate Sound of Thunder” tours. As for the rest of the members on stage, they served the song rather than drawing any particular attention to themselves.
The spectacular light show enhanced the “Dark Side of the Moon” performance tremendously, with images of Putin, Trump and other targets of liberals gracing the screen during the “lunatics on the grass” section. The round video screen, with multi-color spotlights rounding the frame morphed into a multitude of visual spectacles that were pure eye candy supporting the sonically pristine audio. One needn’t have dabbled in drugs to find the show quite a trip. In concluding the record, the band leapt into “On the Turning Away” from 1987’s “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” album, which did not have Roger Waters’ involvement. The song slotted in so well it simply solidified the legitimacy of the post Waters Floyd. Set one wrapped up with the anthemic “Another Brick in the Wall,” with an eye-catching inflatable teacher character towering massively over the band on stage with the bizarre Floyd-esque art style fully intact. “Hey, teacher! Leave those kids alone!”
After a 15-minute intermission, the natural choice of “In the Flesh” called the crowd back into its rock trance as the band expertly explored the finer moments of the “Wish You Were Here” album. The dramatically building “High Hopes” proved to be an emotionally poignant highlight of the second set. And from there, the visual and musical intensity just continued to build. The stunning visuals of “Pigs” were entertaining and captivating and the terrifying opening of “One of These Days” gave way to a raucous prog instrumental romp that was absolutely on point, with green lasers flying everywhere. The set wrapped up with an energetic version of “Run Like Hell” that came off as an upbeat call for the entire hall to clap and dance. If that had been all, it would have been plenty. But the obvious choice for an encore, “Comfortably Numb,” took the crowd over the top with its gloriously reproduced guitar solo and vocal harmonies.
The music of Pink Floyd is so iconic, it’s probably very difficult to recreate without disappointment. But hats off to the lads from down under, who after playing more gigs than the actual band themselves, have fine-tuned their performance into a very well-oiled machine. While one might take exception to the lack of spontaneity and risk in the show, the simple truth is that they’ve crafted a wonderful tribute that evokes much of the spirit and vibe of the original act, and it is certainly worth seeing if it rolls through your town. Gigantic bouncing inflatable kangaroo and all!
Set 1: “Dark Side of the Moon” and More
- Speak to Me
- Breathe (In the Air)
- On the Run
- The Great Gig in the Sky
- Us and Them
- Any Colour You Like
- Brain Damage
- On the Turning Away
- The Happiest Days of Our Lives
- Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2
- In the Flesh?
- See Emily Play
- Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)
- Welcome to the Machine
- Wish You Were Here
- High Hopes
- Pigs (Three Different Ones)
- One of These Days
- Run Like Hell
- Comfortably Numb
THE AUSTRALIAN PINK FLOYD Photo Gallery: