Performing some of the most loved and revered music created to an impassioned audience of fans can teeter on a fine line of stupidity or bravery, especially when tackling a work as established and celebrated as Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, writes Servants of Science founder, Stuart Avis.
The UK Pink Floyd Experience are a rising force amongst the wealth of tribute bands Brighton-based David Gilmour and co's music has provoked across generations, and have proven themselves more than capable of bravely rising to the task.
I was tasked with attending the band's performance at The Capital, in Horsham, last Saturday to preview their forthcoming major event.
The band will be bringing their show to Theatre Royal Brighton, on Saturday 9th February 2019, and, alongside a full performance of the seminal Dark Side of the Moon, the show will also feature a complete run through of 1977's Animals album with a healthy dollop of 1975's Wish You Were Here.
It doesn't end there though, highlights from other works are cherry picked including a rarely heard and expertly executed Yet Another Movie and live favourite One of These Days.
Naturally highlights from The Wall are also included climaxing the show with a rousing Comfortably Numb guitar solo complete with mirror ball showering the audience with a million specks of dancing light.
The core five-piece line up of musicians is deftly complemented by a more than impressive light show and use of projections, which features a mix of Floyd's original films and imaginative use of alternatively sourced material.
Additional musicians also appear to handle sax and backing vocal duties, Racheal Willment's effortless glide through the lead vocal of Great Gig in the Sky left jaws on the floor.
As with the real Pink Floyd the unsung hero of the band is the keyboard player.
Rick Benbow takes on the roles of both Richard Wright and touring keyboard player Jon Carin with skill and precision perfectly recreating the sound and textures that helped make the originals so unique.
All in all this is not just another Pink Floyd tribute band, the attention to detail is exemplary and the passion of the musicians, who clearly have a love for the music, is palpable.
WISH you were here! The Grimsby Auditorium hosted one of the finest tribute bands that I have ever seen: UK Pink Floyd Experience. The band's view on reproducing the Pink Floyd sound is simply, as they claim in their programme, "do it right or not at all". As the audience filed into the Auditorium, the first thing that was striking was the amazing set. A large circular screen for Floyd style images, a mass of lights and a stage packed with equipment. Clearly this band had gone to great lengths to get it right! The band performed amazing Pink Floyd tracks, Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Money, Us And Them and many, many more, to rapturous applause and whistles. I would certainly go see this tribute band again and for those that missed it, well, Wish You Were Here!"— Peter Mascall, Grimsby Telegraph
ENTERING to a dimmed auditorium and thrumming bass and background music, the mood is set instantly for a Pink Floyd Experience, not just a show.
While obviously and necessarily on a smaller scale than the 1994 Division Bell tour Earl’s Court show, and subsequent live recording Pulse, the lighting rig and circular video screen set the tone before the nine-piece band appears.
Once they take up their instruments and launch into Shine On You Crazy Diamond, the audience becomes lost in the performance, which is note-perfect without being a dull rehash.
Paul Andrews’ vocals are strong, but with the same reedy quality and unassuming manner of David Gilmour, to the point where, on occasion, you could be convinced you’re listening to a live recording of the original band. His guitar skills appear effortless, but are as intricate and complex as the Pink Floyd frontman’s; exactly as they should be.
Guitar and keyboards were occasionally overshadowed by the bass and drums – far from a constant problem though, and an unavoidable hazard of live performance – as were the superb backing vocals from Louise Beadle, Linzi Martin and Marie McNally, although the freestyle vocal exercises of Great Gig In The Sky gave each a chance to shine (no pun intended), and each won well-earned applause from the crowd.
Special praise too, to McNally, whose first appearance during Shine On... wasn’t as a choreographed backing singer – she strolled on to the stage with a pair of saxophones and wowed the crowd by switching between the two, before joining Martin and Beadle at their mics.
While largely sticking to the Pulse album, there are a few surprises on the set list, which runs from Dark Side of the Moon to The Division Bell, and the running order is varied. The result is a stunning combination of a first-class band, a blinding light show, and incredible music which isn’t just for fans.
It really is a shame the Opera House was not full, because the only thing better than hearing the sublime original recordings of tracks like Wish You Were Here or Comfortably Numb, is hearing a live version by performers this good.
Every so often you come across someone or something which genuinely impresses you.
It happened to me recently when I went to the Malvern Theatres for a concert by a tribute group with strong Herefordshire and Worcestershire connections. UK Pink Floyd Experience absolutely blew the place away with a fabulous two and a half hour performance of some of the original band’s most iconic tunes. The lights show and effects were brilliant; the sheer musical ability on stage was a joy for the Floyd fans in the packed audience and the standing ovation at the close said it all.
I interviewed Worcester bass player David Power and the Ross-on-Wye lead vocalist and guitarist Paul Andrews on the Breakfast Show on BBC H&W a few months back and David explained how it all came about:
”In late 2008 we set about finding the musicians who shared the passion for Floyd and were of a caliber that could accurately replicate the Floyd sound.
“Our first challenge was to find a ‘Gilmour’”, said David. “We had already decided that the roles in the band had to be authentic. So, for example, we couldn’t have a separate lead vocalist and guitarist. We eventually found the answer in Paul. We knew straight away when we heard him sing and play he was the man for the job!”
Few would disagree. Paul is a disarmingly polite and a fairly quiet character when you chat to him but on the stage, he commands the audience and the intensity he creates is very powerful indeed.
After their gigs the band like to come and meet the audience in the foyer or bar – a nice touch almost in the tradition of an amateur dramatics production – and it does give additional insight into the band members when they talk you post-performance.
The band will be performing locally in 2012 and visit Redditch in April and Hereford in May along with many other dates all around the country.
The final word though to Paul Andrews who had a wide grin on his face when he spoke to me for a few minutes after the Malvern gig. Recounting his student days in Guildford he said, “We’d watch Floyd DVDs in our freezing digs thinking ‘Wouldn’t it be great to play this stuff for real one day!’
Believe me this band is in the ‘Don’t Miss Them’ category.
Howard Bentham - BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester Breakfast Show Presenter.