The Australian Pink Floyd Show, May 25th 1998
Music Hall, Aberdeen, Scotland

By Bart Jan van der Vorst


Songs, Sounds, Sights and Kangaroos

The Australian Pink Floyd Show is a band, originally from Australia, that came to the UK in 1993. The band has gained a huge live reputation all over Britain and has even played at David Gilmour's private birthday party in 1996.

Last year the band had played the (awful) Aberdeen Lemon Tree 4 straight sell-outs in a row, which resulted in them coming back for another sell-out in the Lemon Tree in November (which I unfortunately had to miss because of the CRS-awards being held at the same day). The seemingly huge popularity here in Aberdeen had them come back again (for the 6th time in 8 months) this time to a larger venue, the Aberdeen Music Hall.

When I walked past the Music Hall, a couple of weeks ago I noticed a poster which at first sight looked exactly like the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals. Of course this drew my attention and on a closer look I saw that the pig, flying in the air between the factory chimneys, had been replaced for a pink kangaroo!! Underneath it said "The Australian Pink Floyd Show - Probably the best tribute band in the world."
Remembering what I had read and heard about them from the Lemon Tree shows I immediately bought two tickets.

So yesterday my flatmate (who had volunteered to join me, as the friend who was supposed to accompany me couldn't make it) and I went down to the Music Hall, where we met Mark Kennedy and Pam Bruce whom I had gone to the CRS-awards with in November. We had a quick drink and entered the rather empty hall at about 7.30. The concert was due to start at 8 o'clock and seeing only a handful people there I feared that this again would be a typical Aberdonian low-attended concert. However more and more people stumbled in during the next half-hour, although nobody even *dared* to come near the stage. Everybody stayed at the sides and at the back of the auditorium. As soon as the lights went off everybody rushed to the front though and when the remaining people from the bar made their way to the auditorium as well it suddenly appeared quite full actually.

The Aberdeen Music Hall is a classically build theatre with some huge chandeliers hanging from a nicely painted ceiling and very high windows on the sides. It gave me more the impression having ended up in some sort of 17th century ballroom rather than at a rock concert. It did give a nice dimension to the whole atmosphere though. I do prefer this type of hall to huge concrete shoeboxes, such as Ahoy in Rotterdam, with the exception that those shoeboxes actually turn dark when the lights go off. The warm evening sun, joyfully shining through the huge windows caused the dimming lights making exactly *no* difference at all and the first 30 minutes of the gig were actually played in a lighting close to daylight. Ironically enough, this equalled the experience I had with the real Pink Floyd in 1994, whose stadium concerts also started before it was even dark.

This light and the very noisy crowd made me fear the concert would turn into a complete disaster. A fear which grew stronger when keyboardplayer Jason Sawford started playing an intro (which was based on Outside The Wall, the beginning and ending of Pink Floyd's The Wall album) which seemed to last forever. The crowd grew noisier and noisier until the band kicked in with In the Flesh?.

The first thing that struck me was the incredible lighting! The band had brought along even more lights than Yes had on the last tour and the definitely knew how to handle these lights better, creating very atmospheric and adequate effects. Actually, the only thing missing was Pink Floyd's major trademark, the round screen hanging above the stage. This band had to do it with a "simple" rectangle backdrop, on which lights and some images were projected. However, considering the amount of light coming from the stage I had to keep on reminding myself constantly that this was "only a tribute band" I was looking at.

In the Flesh? flew into Breathe, which in its turn flew into Thin Ice. A very original combination, which gave me the impression that, although all songs are recreated note for note, the band tries some of their own input as well.
The Wall stayed with us for a while, as Thin Ice was followed up by Another Brick in the Wall part 1 and The Happiest Days of Our Lives. All the samples from the album had been recreated by the band as well, some of them even live, as singer guitarist Damian Darlington shouted (with a lot of distortion) "You, yes you! Stand still whatye" and "If you don't eat yer meat, you won't get yer pudding"

The three vocalists alternated their singing during the songs, each one seeming to fit perfectly with the music. Bassist Colin Wilson did the aggressive Roger Waters parts (including the accent) while Steve Mac and Damian Darlington took care of the David Gilmour parts.

Unfortunately some of the vocals didn't sound too good in the beginning. Damian was using two microphones (both distorted) of which one recreated an almost perfect Gilmour-voice. It was this mike however that had too much low tones in it and especially during Breathe and The Happiest Days of our Lives you could barely make out what they were singing. Fortunately this was adjusted later on.

Another Brick in the Wall part 2 kicked in showing a wall on the backdrop. This was projected with a special lamp, which resulted in a round projection. The numerous lights around the backdrop and on the stage actually made the effect come very close to the round Pink Floyd screen.
The song had an alternate ending to the original, with a brilliant Hammond solo and a second guitar solo, exposing the qualities of these musicians.

After a brief silence (the first since they had started playing) the band started playing Echoes. A beautiful song although I couldn't see how it could possibly work out live. Especially in Aberdeen, where people seem to visit concerts in order to catch up with their friends on the latest gossip. The song resulted in a massive run towards the bar and an audience that began talking louder and louder.
The band didn't play the song exactly as it is on the album; in fact I even think they played it better. It had some louder bits in it, making sure the people who stayed silent wouldn't fall asleep.
The middle-piece was beautiful, and actually all sounds (the seagulls and other animals) were played live, on the guitars! Most of the audience didn't seem to appreciate it though, as their noise began to drown out the music.

The first set finished with Brain Damage and Eclipse from Dark side of the Moon, played as it should be: Loud and massive!
After these songs singer/guitarist Steve Mac spoke the first words of the night to the audience: "Thank you very much, we're gonna have a drink now and will be back shortly"

That shortly was half an hour later when the band returned for a fine version of Shine on you Crazy Diamond which was played exactly as it appears on the album, finishing right after the saxophone solo (played on keyboards by Jason Sawford). The crowd talked all the way through the instrumental parts of the song, politely shouting "Shine on you Crazy Diamond" at the appropriate parts and continued talking again.

The first set appeared *very* strict and tight to me, with all songs flowing over in eachother and not a single word being spoken by the band. The second set had some more room for fun and surprises.
The first surprise (to me) was the song Learning to Fly, I actually thought they only played music up to The Wall.

After this brilliantly recreation of the live version of the song (as it can be found on P.U.L.S.E.) Steve Mac introduced the next song as "Some more mellow stuff, that goes way, way back. "This is Careful with that axe Eugene" I was glad he actually introduced that song to us, as it was the first time ever I've heard it. I can't say I like it much though. I knew they made some weird stuff back in the early days, but *this* weird?

After this song there was more time for talking, as all bandmembers got introduced. "On Bass and vocals: Rolf Wilson, on Keyboard: Rolf Sawford" I began to suspect they were joking here, and some people in the crowd started laughing. "On Drums .. Rolf Ross!!" (The whole crowd laughing) "On Guitar and Vocals: Rolf Darlington!" and then the bassist took over: "On guitar and vocals .." (crowd shouting out for Rolf) "Rolf Mac"

I didn't have a clue what they were going on about, but afterwards Mark Kennedy told me about a very infamous Australian "comedian" Rolf Something (sorry, missed his last name) who is on British TV quite a lot. This was most likely a spin on him.

After the band introductions Steve Mac announced a song from The Division Bell: Poles apart.
I hardly know this album (simply never listen to it) but I quite liked this song.

After the song had finished the bassist put a pedal steel guitar in front of Steve Mac, while a sample of blowing wind was played. "I know this one!" I said to my flatmate and I jotted down One of These Days in my little notebook. However, the sound of churchbells appeared at the point where there was supposed to be a bass-guitar.

When a piano started playing I recognised the song: High Hopes also off The Division Bell. Absolutely brilliant. After this song they finally played the long anticipated One of These Days. This was pure enjoyment. I actually half-expected some inflatable kangaroos to appear, at the point where Pink Floyd uses inflatable pigs, however, this was probably above budget as the lightshow stayed as it was.

When Steve Mac picked up an acoustic guitar, the next song was not hard to guess: Wish You Were Here. Simply one word: BEAUTIFUL.
Of course regarding the audience this word was: ANNOYING, especially the two girls standing behind me. They were all dressed up in Pink Floyd clothing and knew most of the songs by heart. During the intro of Wish You Were Here however they felt the need to ask eachother if they were ready to sing along and started discussing how they should sing it.
The song was played and sung brilliantly and it made me forget about the girls soon enough. The song flew into another surprise of the night: Shine on you Crazy Diamond part 2 with *the* guitarsolo, played absolutely stunningly, note for note by Steve Mac on the pedal steel guitar.

This was the end of the main set, but the band came back for an encore, which wasn't much of a surprise, although I would have been disappointed if they'd have played different songs. I'm talking about Comfortably Numb and Run Like Hell here.
The first solo of Comfortably Numb was played by Steve Mac, while the second one, *very* much extended (like the live version on P.U.L.S.E.) was played by Damian Darlington. Together with Shine on you Crazy Diamond part 2 these are my favourite Pink Floyd solos, and both of them got played! What more can you ask?

During the second solo the entire stage was dark, apart from Damian Darlington who bathed in purple light. Suddenly the entire stage lit up again when all spots shone white light on a huge mirrorball that had appeared above the stage, recreating the whole live experience of the 1994 Pink Floyd shows. In fact, when you didn't look at the member's faces nor at the size of the auditorium you'd have sworn it was the real Pink Floyd playing here.

This feeling got even stronger with the last song of the night, Run Like Hell which almost made you forget all about Gilmour et al.

Altogether this was one hell of a show, with in my opinion a killer setlist. Of course, I would have loved to have heard classics such as Time, Us and Them or Money, however the large chunk of The Wall definitely made up for that. The only disappointment was that they didn't play anything off Animals.

As usual the Aberdonian audience was terrible, and I'd like to officially proclaim them as "The most annoying audience in the world". But then again, this is a city where Abba tribute band Bjorn Again can do 5 sell-outs in a row in the very same music hall, so go figure!

I would definitely recommend this band to anyone who likes Pink Floyd (or even people that don't know them, as my flatmate knew none of the songs, apart from Another Brick in the Wall and he was completely blown away as well). They are touring the UK until July, so should you get the chance, go and see them, you will not be disappointed.

I would say, they are just as good as Pink Floyd themselves. Of course they are only a tribute band and you can never beat the originals, but on the other hand, as Pink Floyd only tours about once a decade, this is definitely the closest you'll get to the real experience.

Band:

Damian Darling - Guitars, Vocals, Effects
Steve Mac - Guitars, Pedal Steel Guitar, Vocals
Colin Wilson - Bass, Vocals
Jason Paul Sawford B.Sc. alias The Wizard - Keyboards, Hammond Organ
Grant Ross - Drums, Percussion

Setlist:

Intro (Outside The Wall)
In The Flesh?
Breathe
Thin Ice
Another Brick In The Wall (part 1)
The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
Another Brick In The Wall (part 2)
Echoes
Brain Damage
Eclipse

Shine On You Crazy Diamond (part 1)
Learning To Fly
Careful With That Axe Eugene
Poles Apart
High Hopes
One Of These Days
Wish You Were Here
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (part 2)

Comfortably Numb
Run Like Hell

 

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1998 DPRP