The Australian Pink Floyd Show,
September 3 1998
Picture Playhouse, Beverly, United Kingdom

By Bart Jan van der Vorst


A night at the movies

I received an e-mail from the Australian Pink Floyd mailing-list, announcing the dates for their upcoming Autumn/Winter tour. The first gig of their tour was held exactly the day before Mike Oldfield's concert, in a town some 200 miles from London!
The decision was made easily; we would leave for England a day earlier, in order to catch the APF gig as well.

I had seen this band once before and I think they give an absolutely stunning show, featuring note-perfect recreations of classic Floyd tunes, complete with the appropriate (massive) light-show. I think this band would do well in Holland and the rest of Europe as well and therefore I decided to send them an e-mail. I asked if they would be interested in ever playing in Holland, and stating that if they were, I might be able to bring them in contact with venues and promoters over here. Not in the last place because my friend Derk is a member of the team behind the Dutch Progressive Rock Page, which organises the Dutch Progressive Rock Stage festival.
I got a very nice response back, and a few e-mails later all three of us had been put on the guest-list.

And so it came that on the morning of Thursday September 3, my girlfriend and I got up at 5 in the morning to drive to Hook of Holland (with a short stop in Gouda to pick up Derk) in order to take the ferry to Harwich.
After a 3˝-hour trip we arrived in Harwich from where we drove to Beverly in about 4 hours. A bed and breakfast was easily found and after a quick shower we went to the Picture Playhouse.

At the entrance of the Playhouse we met Wendy, who had sent me the e-mails. We had a nice chat about the band, gigs, the venue of the night, the upcoming tour, the band's new drummer (who is English, so it's actually becoming an Australian and English Pink Floyd show) and of course the possibilities of getting the band in Holland.
Wendy invited us inside the Playhouse to attend the sound-check - a privilege with APF, since they never allow people during their sound-checks.

The Picture Playhouse is an old corn exchange transferred into a small cinema. Being a cinema it means a seated venue, so we found ourselves the best seats (about the fifth row, in the middle) and we put our jackets on the seats, so no one else would dare to sit there.
The Playhouse is actually way too small for the band, which meant that they couldn't use their full gear. About three quarters of the light-show had not been set up because the stage was already too small for all the instruments. (The band's new drummer, Paul Bonney, could only use half his kit…)

The sound-check was very interesting. The band played quite a lot of songs, sometimes starting in the middle of a song, or just playing a solo. It seemed to be very difficult to get a good sound from the stage monitors. The sound quality in the theatre itself wasn't too good either. It got better as the sound-check proceeded though, and at some point, after a marvellous version of Sheep I had difficulties *not* to start applauding and cheering.
After the band had finished their sound-check we had a nice chat with Colin Wilson, the bass-player.

We went to a pub for a quick (read: tasteless) dinner and by the time we got back to the venue there was already a large queue waiting outside. Being "VIP's" we tried to walk past the queue with the most arrogant expressions on our faces, however, this joke didn't succeed as at the front of the queue we found out the doors were still closed and we couldn't get inside… :-/
The gates opened and everybody found themselves seats, the seats in the back being the first to be filled…?!?!

At 8 o'clock sharp the band came onstage and the intro tape, playing Outside the wall, started. The set started the same as it had in Aberdeen, and for the second time I wondered why the intro-tape lasts so long.
This time I did find an answer though, as the crowd waited, silent and patiently, for the music to start (unlike in Aberdeen where nobody seemed to notice they started playing). In the Flesh kicked in *so* unexpectedly that everywhere in the theatre people jumped up because of the sudden loud beat of the drums. A very cool effect.

The few lights that did fit on the stage still were quite atmospheric, although the stage was a little bit dark. The movie-screen of the cinema was used to project some nice colours and figures on.

Just as during the last tour In the flesh flew into Breathe , but after that the setlist had changed completely. Astronomy Domine followed, which is not one of my favourite Floyd tracks, but they played it flawlessly. The sound quality had also improved massively since the sound-check. Every instrument and effect could be heard.

After a fine version of Learning to Fly some really spooky effects started. Heavy synth sounds introduced the next song: Empty Spaces . The intro of this song was extended and sounded great, as did the song. Colin Wilson's vocals really sounded just as mean as Waters' do on The Wall . Empty Spaces was followed by Young Lust , sung by Steve Mac. Unfortunately Mac's vocals didn't sound as aggressive as David Gilmour's vocals do on the original version of this song. Nevertheless this was six minutes pure enjoyment.

"We're going to slow things down a little bit, this is Careful with that axe Eugene " announced Steve Mac the next song. I still haven't heard the original of this song, but I'm really beginning to like this weird and horrible homage to marriage.
Damian Darlington's screams gave me shivers down my spine and I began imagining my own girlfriend playing swaying an axe at me. Good thing she isn't named Eugene I'd say :-)

Blowing wind sounded and a pedal steel guitar was placed in front of Steve Mac. Colin Wilson started playing that one famous Bass-line: One of these days . Maybe a little early in the set, but nevertheless absolutely stunning.
During the quieter middle section of this song drummer Paul Bonney kicked in a few bars too early. It was really funny to see Damian Darlington shake his head saying "Not yet….. NOW!"

Speaking of the new drummer, I really think he is a great addition to the band. With a genuine early seventies Roger Waters look and a powerful style he really fits in with the band. My first impression actually was: "Nick Mason? Who the hell is he?"

Just like last tour the first set ended with Brain Damage and Eclipse , during which Damian's laughs were absolutely hilarious, it even resulted in some laughs from the (extremely quiet) audience.

The 30 minute break that followed allowed us to spend some money on the merchandise, pay a visit to the toilet and stretch our legs a little bit (the worn-out seats in the venue weren't particularly comfortable)

After the break Steve Mac and Jason Sawford came back onstage and started the atmospheric intro to Shine on you crazy diamond part 1 . The rest of the band kicked in as well and again a flawless version of this song was played. Unfortunately tonight's audience was a little bit too polite, as they stayed dead and dead silent, nobody even dared to sing along. Although during the instrumental parts this is perfect I wouldn't mind a bit of singing along during the choruses. The audience was more like a theatre-audience than a concert-audience.

When the last notes of Shine on had faded Steve Mac started playing a roaring guitar - the intro to the third post-Waters song of the evening: Sorrow . Again (this is getting boring) they played it superbly.

The next song brought us back to what seems to be the band's favourite Floyd album: The Wall . They started with an aggressive version of The Happiest days of our lives followed by Another Brick in the Wall part 2 with the extended guitar solos and the Hammond solo at the end.

Directly after Brick… had finished samples were played and the band continued with the next song on The Wall : Mother. Colin missed the first words of the first line, or maybe his microphone wasn't switched on yet, but all we heard was: "…ink they'll drop the bomb"

This was the first audible mistake they made by the way; it didn't show at all that this was the first gig of the tour!

What followed was another (if not *the*) highlight of the show: Sheep , yet another superb performance. The only way to describe this song is "WOW". I just can't find the right words,  All I can do is suggest everybody to go and see it. This is the only way you can have an orgasm in public, without being sued. Just perfect.

The crowd had been shaken awake by this brilliant version of Sheep and was all ready for the next masterpiece: Wish you were here.

With this song it was the one and only time people actually sang along with the words, however after the first three lines most people realised what they were doing and they shut up again. There were even people going "ssssssht" to have the singing people shut up - a really strange experience at a rock-concert.

A short silence was enough to put the pedal steel guitar back in front of Steve Mac and the band continued with Shine on part 2 . Somewhere halfway during this song Damian broke one of his strings, and with a very concerned look on his face he realised that he didn't have any spare strings onstage.
The band could do nothing else than finish the song right there and then, as Damian is responsible for all the guitar-parts in the finale of the song. While Damian ran toward the projector room (!!) where the band had stored their belongings, to get a spare string, Steve Mac jokingly asked the audience whether anyone had a spare D-string. "A D-string we need ladies and gentlemen, *not* a G-string."

Apparently the people at the mixing desk had a different opinion about Steve's stand-up comedian abilities and when he started his next one-liner they started the music tape and the band left the stage for a short intermission. I personally think this wasn't a correct way to solve this thing, as I would rather have heard some impromptu jam-session, something unrehearsed, or even Steve's bad jokes!

A few minutes later the new string was tuned and the band was ready to play again. As Shine on pt 2 was the final song of the main set, the band didn't have any songs left to play but the encores. Therefore they started playing Comfortably Numb . After yet again another brilliant performance the band left the stage again, only to come back for the 'real' encore, which of course was Run like hell .

After the show we had another chat with Colin and Wendy before we strolled back to our hotel. Since we had been up since 5 o'clock that morning we were all three completely wasted.

Again this was another great performance of this superb band. Of course the question remains as to why I should even consider being this enthusiastic about a band that doesn't even play their own music. Of course this is true, but on the other hand, how many times have we had the chance to see the real Floyd over the past 20 years? Twice? Three times maybe? And being born about 20 years too late I never had the chance to see them in the Seventies. So therefore, as long as the real Floyd refrains from touring, this is the best you can get in the meantime.

Shine on!

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
Paul Bonney - Drums, Percussion

Setlist:

Intro (Outside the Wall)
In The Flesh?
Breathe
Astronomy Domine
Learning To Fly
Empty Spaces
Young Lust
Careful With That Axe Eugene
One of These Days
High Hopes
Brain Damage
Eclipse

Shine On You Crazy Diamond part 1
Sorrow
The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
Another Brick In The Wall part 2
Mother
Sheep
Wish You Were Here
Shine On You Crazy Diamond part 2
--technical problems--
Comfortably Numb

Run like Hell

 

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