Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Australian Pink Floyd - concert review

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I was going to see Australian Pink Floyd in concert. The show was at the NOKIA Theatre at L.A. Live, which I'd never been to before, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect of the venue, much less the band itself.

The parking around the area can be a bit odd, so rather than park further out at a Convention Center lot since I was attending the concert alone, I decided to just go ahead and pay the $20 for the adjacent lot designated for L.A. Live.

I had known from the seating chart that I had a really good seat, but it wasn't until I actually sat down that I could really see how close I was.

My view of the stage.
I was in the second row behind the "pit",
which was just rows of seats.

The show started promptly at 8pm, with a 20 minute intermission after about an hour, and then they played for another hour or so after that, with one encore song.

Since I'm not familiar enough with all of Pink Floyd's songs to recognize them simply by hearing them, here's the setlist that I think they played, but I don't promise that it's 100% accurate. I know what I listed is correct but I might be missing songs I didn't recognize. The song title is followed in brackets by the album that the song is from.

set list
Breathe [Dark Side of the Moon]
Time [Dark Side of the Moon]
Shine On You Crazy Diamond [Wish You Were Here]
Welcome to the Machine [Wish You Were Here]
Pigs (Three Different Ones) [Animals]
Sheep [Animals]


Astronomy Domine [The Piper at the Gates of Dawn]
Money [Dark Side of the Moon]
Take It Back [The Division Bell]
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun [A Saucerful of Secrets]
Learning to Fly [Momentary Lapse of Reason]
"The Gunner's Dream" [The Final Cut]
The Happiest Days of Our Lives [The Wall]
Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 [The Wall]
Wish You Were Here

band introductions

suite from The Wall
Hey You
Is There Anybody Out There?
Nobody Home
Comfortably Numb
Run Like Hell (encore)

So what did I think of the show? Well, I thought the band were terrific performers who put on one hell of a show for the most part. And while I basically enjoyed it, I still had very mixed feelings. And it was probably compounded by the fact that I generally am not into cover bands. The band sounded great instrumentally - it was like listening to the albums themselves. That is, until the singing started. It wasn't David Gilmour or Roger Waters. Yes, I knew going in that it wasn't going to be either of them, and I already thought that might be a problem, but I think it was the combination of hearing the same exact musical notes as on the album that then prepped me to also expect familiar voices. The music was dead on - the singing, not so much. As much as I did enjoy the show for the most part, I kept feeling like I was watching imposters and not the real thing. I guess for me, it's not just about the songs and the music, but it's also about a connection to the band itself. And the band I wanted was Pink Floyd, not the Australian version. If I want to hear a note-by-note recreation of the songs, I'll just play the albums myself.

One thing I found a little odd was that for most of the show, the band members had very little interaction with each other. They were each sort of doing their own thing, playing and singing and jamming, but there was almost no recognition that other people were on the stage performing as well. One of the things I like about bands is the interaction between the members, especially if the members have been playing together for a long time. The history they've built together is evident in how they perform together. There was really none of that. There was a giant screen with various images projected on it, and I found myself watching the screen a lot because it was much more interesting than watching the band members just standing there and playing their instruments. It was almost like they were just providing the background music for the visuals, and it wasn't until maybe the last 20 minutes of the concert that they really showed any interaction and cohesive stage presence at all.

There were 3 band members who did most of the singing. Early on, the piano player/keyboardist, Rob, had a voice that I rather liked, but as the night wore on, he didn't really sing any more lead vocals. The majority of the lead singing was done by Ian and Damian. I thought Damian was the better of the two, though he had a habit of "singing" guitar notes, which I didn't really care for. They were doing a fine job in duplicating the guitar parts, so I didn't see why he needed to recreate the notes with his mouth instead. Ian did quite a bit of the songs, but I'm sorry to see that for the most part, I didn't care for his voice at all. I can't really describe what I didn't like about it - it just didn't sound right with the Pink Floyd he was singing. I think the song where I noticed it the most was "Take It Back", which is a song I happen to love and know *really* well. The music started and it sounded great - and he was just not even close to being David Gilmour or really even singing the feel and meaning of the song. However, I will say that he did a decent job with both "Hey You" and "Comfortably Numb".

As I mentioned, the musicianship was excellent. The lead guitarist and keyboardist and saxophonist were really terrific.

During "Time", one of the background vocalists did the wailing on the song, and she was amazing.

The crowd seemed to really enjoy the show, and they stood up, dancing and singing during "Another Brick in the Wall".

During "Wish You Were Here", there was a nice moment where footage of the members of Pink Floyd themselves were shown on the big screen.

During the course of the show, there were two giant inflatable animals - one a kangaroo and one a pig/boar (with glowing red eyes) - that were on stage. They were definitely a sight to see.

I don't regret having gone to the show, but I think I've learned my lesson now - if I can't see the real band, I shouldn't go at all. It's not really fair to the cover band since I have an inherent bias going in.

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