THE SUNDAY TIMES described them as “the best tribute band in the world” and Floyd drummer Nick Mason has gone on record as saying that “they probably do Floyd better than we do”.
TRIBUTE band extraordinaire The Australian Pink Floyd Show, whose skill at their renditions of Floyd classics led to them being the band chosen by Floyd guitarist David Gilmour to play at his 50th birthday party, is touring the country again
with an updated show.
Their sound is uncannily like the original band and during a concert, if you close your eyes, you could easily believe that they were the originals.
But it’s best not to close your eyes though, as like the band they so faithfully reproduce, they have a light show that is second to none, with not just lasers, but massive inflatables making their shows a treat for all the senses.
It helps that all the band are Pink Floyd fans, and some of the backroom team behind the Aussie Floyd Show – or TAPFS as the name is usually shortened to – worked behind the scenes for Pink Floyd themselves!
One such veteran is Front of House Engineer Colin Norfield, who is controlling the state-of-the-art sound and light system.
The band is renowned for pushing the boundaries both sonically and visually and last year they introduced 3D visuals to augment the songs.
“They actually went very well,” says keyboard player and founder-member Jason Sawford.
“OK, they were a bit of an experiment, but it was pretty successful. Definitely a ‘Floydy thing to do.”
Jason, relaxing in Wroclaw, just before the Polish leg of the ‘Exposed In The Light’ tour (with the name taken from a line of the lyrics in the song ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ says.
“We’ve just arrived here from the Czech Republic and so far the tour is going well. From Poland we go to France, Germany, Holland, Ireland and then the UK.”
The band, which was originally formed in 1988 in Melbourne, still has two of the original members in Jason and guitarist/vocalist Steve Mac, explains that they constantly update the show.
“Well, this year we have more video material with some psychedelic themes, a redesigned light show, the inflatables and quadraphonic ‘surround’ sound; all of which is controlled by Colin Norfield, who handled Pink Floyd’s ‘Division Bell’ tour.
From humble beginnings in Australia, TAPFS has become a worldwide phenomenon, with ticket sales of over three million.
Bassist Colin Wilson, who joined the band in 1992 states, “For us, of course, the music has always come first. We like to breathe life into some material that would otherwise not get heard.”
During last years’ tour, they did indeed cover some lesser known tracks including ‘Dogs’ from the ‘Animals’ album.
“Yes,” agrees Jason, his once strong Australian accent now almost non-existent. “We’re still doing some older tunes, but a different selection exploring the psychedelic, space-rock side of Floyd.”
“We are doing ‘Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun’ and a newer version of ‘Astronomy Domine’ and from ‘Animals’ we’ve got ‘Pigs’ and ‘Sheep’.
“Also, we’ve got a few references to Syd Barratt (the genius behind the early Floyd whose reliance on drugs led to him being sensationally sacked by the band).”
The boys from Oz are not forgetting the best-known songs though.
“No, we are doing a fair selection from ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ with songs like ‘Time’, ‘Money’ and ‘Us and Them’ plus ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ and ‘Within The Flesh’”.
Also, for this tour, they have a special guest. Singer Lorelei McBroom will be joining the band on stage. Lorelei toured as a backing vocalist with Pink Floyd on their ‘Momentary Lapse of Reason’ and ‘Delicate Sound of Thunder’ tours.
“It’s quite an honour to have Lorelei with us,” Jason tells me.
“It makes for a spectacular performance of ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ and she has been telling us stories about Floyd.”
There’s been a few new faces in TAPFS recently.
“That’s right,” says Jason, “And they’ve all been doing nvery well.”
“David Domminney Fowler on guitar in particular. He’s a great asset and also helps out behind the scenes.”
Some of the venues on the tour are in theatres and some in arenas, but apparently the size of the venue doesn’t detract from the shows.
“No,” asserts Jason, “We have a capable crew who can get as much of the show in as possible. All that may happen is that we might not be able to fit all the inflatables in at some of the smaller venues.”
He continues, “However, we should be able to get all the lights and lasers in – plus the smaller places are a bit more intimate.”
“We try not to alter the show too much.” He reassures me.
But what happens nest? They seem to have now out Floyded Floyd in almost every aspect of the show.
“There’s always the problem of what to do next,” says Jason.
“We could perhaps pay tribute to another album like we did with ‘Dark Side’ a few years ago; we could do different themes – say the Syd Barratt years et cetera.”
“Our plans vary from year to year, but for this year we are looking at doing some summer shows, plus we hope to do a lot more in America; we had a very successful tour there in 2011 and we are going back later this year.”
“And we are taking footage during the tour and we hope to put together a documentary DVD.”
The Australian Pink Floyd Show will be performing Pink Floyd’s classic songs, at the Plymouth Pavilions on Tuesday 27th March. Tickets are priced at £29.50 (subject to a booking fee) and are available from the Box Office and all the usual agencies.
Written by Martin Hutchinson.
For more information and to book tickets for Plymouth Pavilions contact the box office 0845 1461460 or check the website www.plymouthpavilions.com
For more information and tickets for other tour dates check their website www.aussiefloyd.com
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