The Australian Pink Floyd Show,
December 11th 1998
Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, UK
By Bart Jan van der Vorst
Yet another excellent gig of this press-proclaimed "probably the best tribute band in the world". For me this
was already the third time I saw them, and this gig was definitely the best and most impressive.
My friend Derk and I travelled to England for what we called a little "nostalgia" trip: two gigs of the two best tribute bands around, The Aussy Floyd and Regenesis.
Due to the heavy fog around Amsterdam Airport our plane for Liverpool departed over an hour late. Not a good way to start a weekend, but fortunately everything went perfectly afterwards. After we had settled down in our hotel and changed some clothes we headed for the Royal Court theatre, just two blocks from our hotel.
The stage door of the theatre stood open as we passed by, and when we walked in we immediately found
ourselves onstage, where singer/guitarist Steve Mac was just setting up his gear. A bit startled we sneaked back, where we got caught by a roadie who urged us to leave. We explained that we knew the bassist of the band, Colin, and his girlfriend Wendy. He told us to wait where we stood as he ran upstairs to find them. A minute later everything was fine and we were invited up in their dressing room.
The Royal Court Theatre is an old-fashioned classic English theatre which looks exactly as you'd expect an early 1900's theatre to do. Because we had entered the theatre through the stage-door and thus first saw backstage area, it was as if we had entered a movie, or a television program behind the scenes of a Broadway show. The dressing room matched exactly with the image, as it was equipped with a lightbulb-surrounded mirror at the dressing table, a comfy chair and erm… greasy stains all over the place.
It was great seeing Colin and Wendy again and to catch up with tour gossip and the latest problems with computer equipment. After a we had chatted a while Wendy wanted to bring us into the theatre so we could see some of the soundcheck. The maze of staircases and corridors backstage had us confused in no-time and our 10-minute journey led us through the entire backstage area, the foyer, miles of corridors and at one point even underneath the stage into the musicians area. Finally in the auditorium conversations were made impossible because of the extremely high volume of the soundcheck, so with some sign language we agreed to go out and find ourselves some dinner, while the band would finish their soundcheck.
After dinner we found ourselves a great sport in front of the PA, where we had an excellent view at the stage and the best possible sound in the auditorium. Although it was a classic style theatre, all chair had been taken out to fit in more people. The sloped floor of the auditorium enabled the people in the back to see something as well. Later on, when it got busier the balcony was opened as well. I think that in the end there were about 800 people there. After the show Colin spoke of one of the biggest crowds of this tour.
The setlist had hardly changed since Beverly, Learning to Fly and Sorrow had swapped places in the setlist, while Empty Spaces and Young Lust had been dropped. The lightshow was something different though. In Beverly there hadn't been enough room onstage for the full production, so the few effects and backdrop projections had been a bit lame. Here there was plenty room for 25+ lights to create an excellent show which came near to the experience of the real Floyd. Although I had already seen the full production once before in Aberdeen, this new show was much, much more impressive.
During the guitar-roars at the beginning of the song Sorrow lightbeams shone on Steve Mac, copying the effect of the lasers of the real Floyd during the Division Bell tour. This song was definitely one of the highlights of the show, and the crowd, which had been a noisy during the first couple of songs, shut up during this visual feast.
After Sorrow Steve spoke his classic words "We're gonne slow things down a little bit, this is Careful with that axe, Eugene".
This song is becoming a favourite of both Derk and mine, although neither of us has ever heard the original.
There were two special floodlights placed at the front of the stage, which projected something that looked like shattered blood on the backdrop. Because both Colin and guitarist Damian Darlington were standing in front of those lights their shadows were projected on the backdrop as well. This resulted in a very spooky image.
Keyboard player Jason Sawford wore a white mask during this song and to add some more theatrics to the
song he swayed a huge cleaver in the air when the screaming part started. Absolutely brilliant!
The song was followed by a powerful One of these days where Paul Bonney's powerful drumming proofed what a good addition to the band he is. (he replaced original drummer Grant Ross this summer).
As usual the first set ended with perfect renditions of Brain Damage, during which a triangle was projected on the band and the backdrop, and the massive Eclipse after which Steve spoke his second line to the audience: "We're gonna take a break now and grap some beer, after which we will be back with some more Floyd for ya"
The second set started with the beautiful Shine on you crazy diamond part 1. The song was immediately followed by Learning to fly which works much better at this position in the setlist.
After excellent renditions of The Happiest days of our lives, Another brick in the wall part 2 and Mother it was time for the real highlight of the show: Sheep. This is such an excellent and powerful song live, it has to be heard to be believed. Colin's voice is just as vicious as Roger Waters' and copes very well with the hard melody lines.
Calmness returned with a beautiful version of Wish you were here that in its turn flew into Shine on you crazy diamond part 2, which closed the set.
The crowd went berserk after this excellent performance, and not before long the band came back for their usual encore: Comfortably numb and Run like Hell.
I was relieved to see that the mirror-ball was also present during Comfy numb (at Beverly there wasn't enough room for the equipment operating the ball) so that at least I could take a picture of it.
The lighshow reached more heights with Run like Hell and I think that a reasonable next step in the Australian Pink Floyd performance will be something like fireworks during this song (if budgets allow such things)
Again it was a superb performance and a stunning show. And again I would recommend everybody to go and
see them if they get a chance. They'll play two shows in Holland this January (see Dutch concert guide) and there will be a UK tour again later this spring.
Go see them and you won't be disappointed!
Damian Darling - Guitars, Vocals, Effects, Keyboard
Steve Mac - Guitars, Pedal Steel Guitar, Vocals
Colin Wilson - Bass, Vocals
Jason Paul Sawford - Keyboards, Hammond Organ, Spooky theatrics
Paul Bonney - Drums, Percussion
Intro (Outside the Wall)
In The Flesh?
Careful With That Axe Eugene
One of These Days
Shine On You Crazy Diamond part 1
Learning To Fly
The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
Another Brick In The Wall part 2
Wish You Were Here
Shine On You Crazy Diamond part 2
Run like Hell
(All photos © Bart Jan van der Vorst)