For ten years now, Pink Project, a Pink Floyd tribute band from Holland, has been organizing very special concerts. Not only did they
play various multi-media performances of The Wall in The Hague and Rijswijk, they also filled the market square of
Delft with 10.000 people when they performed Dark Side of The Moon in its entirety in 1998, celebrating the album's 25th anniversary.
I had seen Pink Project twice before, once doing The Wall in The Hague and a once doing a try-out for the Dark Side gig for Delft. I also saw another incarnation of the band, named Pros and Cons perform Roger Waters' album of the same name (plus some Floydian classics) in October 1997.
In recent years, the band had been relatively quiet while some of the members focussed their
attention on another band called Nangyala, which released three mini-albums (Spheres, Born Gifted/Paragon and Eyes Wide Open). In October 1999 Nangyala played a special concert in the Omniversum theatre in The Hague. Recently the band broke up, and it was no great surprise to me when Pink Project announced they would recreate the experience by playing a Floydian soundtrack to some Imax material at the same Omniversum Nangyala had played two years earlier. Pink Project played no less than 7 days in a row (July 29th to August 4th) to sold-out cinema halls. Thanks to the help of bass player Peter I was fortunate enough to get into the otherwise
sold out Wednesday night.
And so I found myself in the bowl shaped cinema hall of the Omniversum, amidst an audience with a wide range of ages, as one normally sees at Floyd related performances. The narrow ledge behind the front row served as a small 'stage' where the band had set up their
equipment. I immediately wondered about the lack of speakers in their set-up, a mystery that would soon be solved when they kicked-off
the concert with Welcome to the Machine. During this song, the light in the hall was dimmed while the light behind the
huge projection screen was turned on. This created an eery see-through effect revealing large air conditioning pipes, scaffolding
and some sets of speakers behind the screen. This indeed created the illusion of being part of a very big machine, thus fitting the
song perfectly. Nevertheless, although this was a very smart opening of the set, some additional lighting effects would not have been out of place, considering the length of the song.
This first song already made it very clear that the sound in the Omniversum was absolutely brilliant. In many ways the band themselves played better than I've ever seen them play before. Sure, there were some bits and pieces that were slightly dodgy or not completely played in tune, but overall they did very well indeed, especially considering they were a scaled down version of earlier incarnations of the Project. All in all there were two guitarists (Mark and Danny), one keyboard player (Egbert), a drummer (Ronald), a sax player (Leslie), two backing singers (Laurie and Annet) and of course the leader of the Project, Peter Chattelin on bass. By the way, Peter deserves special mentioning this time; at previous performances he had often been caught singing incorrect lyrics to songs by
Waters and The Floyd but this time I couldn't spot one single mistake !
After the opening introduction of Welcome to the Machine, the main program started. For those who've never been in an Omniversum/Imax theater, simply imagine slightly tilted chairs, so you're looking at the ceiling in
a 45 degree angle while the bowl shaped screen basically surrounds the audience, making you feel like you're inside the movie.
The Omniversum had selected two movies to which the band played their selection of Floydian material. This both resulted in a strength and a weakness of the overall performance. First of all, given the special format of the film reels, there was little room to manipulate and tailor the visuals to the music. At the same time however, this meant that the band had to select songs, or fragments of songs that matched the movie's footage best. This resulted in some interesting choices and medley-like combinations of Floyd songs with the
various songs flowing into eachother so the music never really stopped while the movie was running.
The first film to be shown was called Whales and started with images of a submarine who's crew was picking up whale sounds. This of course matched the opening 'pings' of Echoes perfectly. The timing was splendid because when the full band finally kicked
in, a huge orca was diving straight 'out of the screen' towards the audience, an amazing (and maybe even slightly frightening) sight !
The next 45 minutes were filled with underwater sights, soaring flights over rocks and seas, views of
boats and of course whales .... lots of whales. Maybe even a bit too many whales. Unless you're a real nature documentary buff this
might have been a bit too much for the average person in the audience. As a matter of fact, when the band took a (rather long) break
after this first part of the show, I heard somebody mention that he didn't feel like eating any more fish for a couple of weeks. ;-)
Despite the length of the movie the combination of the footage and selection of Floydian material worked really well. Echoes seemed to be written for the underwater scenes and when it crossed over into Shine On You Crazy Diamond 6-9 after the 'seagull section' the footage of soaring across rocks and more underwater scenes once again matched very well with the second part of
the center piece from the Wish You Were Here album. The rest of the movie was accompanied by renditions of One of These Days, Us and Them (including a sax solo) and a very guitar heavy version of Careful With That Axe Eugene (including manic screams by Peter). Without a doubt the combination of these songs and the movie worked a lot better for us Floyd fans than the original score which I noticed was
done by Greek keyboard player Yanni.
As mentioned, a rather long break followed. I understand that the band needed to catch their breath for a while and that the
Omniversum wanted to cash in with their catering service, but I found this rather disappointing because the 2-hour performance
(as it was advertised) actually turned out to be a 90 minute performance. Nevertheless, there was more than enough to enjoy
in the last 40 minutes of the gig, which contained quite a few surprises.
The second movie on the program was called The Greatest Places and probably was an edited version of a longer film.
It featured footage on some on the biggest plains, deserts, jungles and such and the people and animals that inhabit them.
The opening scene of the movie contained visages of earth circling through space, which worked very well with Astronomie Domine. Via a taped version of Speak to Me (the opening effects of Dark Side of the Moon) the band moved on with Breathe and Breathe Reprise, accompanied by footage of flora and fauna of a tropical forest.
The next song was quite a surprise; footage of inhabitants of the great plains was accompanied by a well performed It's a Miracle of Waters' brilliant Amused to Death album. Footage of a child rowing a boat downstream matched perfectly with the short guitar
melody of Signs of Life, which connected the previous song with Shine of You Crazy Diamond I. Although the guitar solo
was not 100% perfect on the latter, it did turn out to be a very interesting version with the sax taking over the keyboard solo of
part 3, after which it continued with part 5, skipping the vocal section of part 4.
Via an arrangement of the instrumental section of Sheep the band moved into Any Colour You Like, to close of the performance with the biggest surprise of the evening; the new Waters composition Each Small Candle. Perfectly timed, the
song ended ('.... of the dark') when the closing credits of the movie started.
The band got a loud ovation, after which they returned for one final encore, this time playing with the lights in the cinema hall
on, so you were actually expected to look at the band for the first time. The encore turned out to be Money and as far as
I'm concerned they should either have left it or chosen another encore. Sure, Money is a very popular song, but as with
previous renditions by the Project, this just didn't sound right. It also proved something which I've said several times before;
Peter does a fine impersonation of Roger Waters' vocals, but he just can't cut the higher, more powerful Gilmour vocals, making
a song like Money sound very unconvincing, even in the Delicate Sound of Thunder version that was played. All in all,
this left a bit of a sour aftertaste on an otherwise very impressive performance.
Nevertheless, if we forget about Money and the occasional moment when the band lost their tightness a bit, I can only
conclude that Pink Project has once again come up with an impressive and creative way of presenting the Floydian oeuvre. I can't
wait for the next Project ....