March 1 2012 – Although we like a lot of music and different bands there are 2 at the upper pantheon of rock aristocracy for us – Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Led Zeppelin broke up in 1980 and Pink Floyd in 1984. What is a rabid fan of these bands to do? Well just as you can still go listen to Mozart music live at a symphony orchestra in any major metropolis in the world, you likewise can still go listen to Zeppelin, Floyd and really any other band you crave.
In Toronto we are spoiled rotten on the Led Zeppelin side with Michael White (whom we interview here) residing in Toronto and leading the world’s most prolific Led Zeppelin tribute band. We are not so fortunate on the Pink Floyd side. Various Pink Floyd tribute bands grace our city on their tours and give us our much needed dose of Pink Floyd. Tonight was one of those nights.
Brit Floyd played the 3000 seat Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (by far my favorite venue in Toronto to see a band play) for the first time to a very enthusiastic audience. The show was called A Foot in the Door and is part of Brit Floyd’s 29 stop tour of North America (culminating at the iconic Red Rocks outside of Denver). In 2011 the band performed to over 50,000 fans in the United Kingdom to rave reviews. Brit Floyd is a relatively new band but some of its members come from another long time Pink Floyd tribute band. Brit Floyd consists of:
- Damian Darlington – Guitar and Vocals
- Ian Cattell – Bass and Vocals
- Bobby Harrison – Guitar and Vocals
- Rob Stringer – Keyboards and Vocals
- Rick Benbow – Keyboards
- Arran Ahmun – Drums
- Carl Brundson – Sax, Bass, Guitar, Percussion, Keyboards, Clarinet
- Emily Jollands, Jacquie Williams, Ola Bienkowska – Backing Vocals
|Brit Floyd – Ian Cattell|
|Brit Floyd – Damian Darlington|
|Brit Floyd – Bobby Harrison|
|Emily Jollands, Jacquie Williams, Ola Bienkowska|
When watching a tribute band, there are three categories that matter: the music, the visuals and the experience. We will discuss each one of those briefly as they relate to what we saw tonight.
The Music – The music is by far the single most important factor when seeing a tribute band. How successful are the artists on stage in recreating the sound of the original band and the songs so familiar to us from the album? Well let me tell you without hesitation that Brit Floyd is absolutely spot on. They are obviously very talented musicians and must have spent countless hours mastering every note that Pink Floyd created. The voices of Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Syd Barrett, and even Roy Harper (you did know that Roy Harper sang Have A Cigar right?) were emulated with eerie accuracy.
The Visuals – Freakin awesome. When I see tribute bands I like to close my eyes and engulf myself in the music, with Brit Floyd I didn’t want to close my eyes as to not miss anything happening on stage (or beside the stage as with the flying pig). Lasers, smoke machines, oval screen with Floyd movies, massive spotlights, and everything you would expect from a Floyd show was there and complemented the musical journey.
The Experience – Of course nothing can capture the experience of seeing Pink Floyd in 1975, but if use your imagination a bit and fully submerge yourself to the visual and aural experience of Brit Floyd you will get as close as possible to the real thing (considering you are living in 2012). As word of mouth and the social media machine picks up steam this band will be in even higher demand.
|Brit Floyd – The Experience|
|Brit Floyd – The Visuals|
Tonight’s gig started at 8pm sharp (just like the ticket said) with a video montage of Pink Floyd throughout the years. Very strong pink colored lights (probably 20 of them) beam out from the stage and that unmistakable first note from Shine On You Crazy Diamond is heard. Part I-V is performed and ends with the enigmatic Syd Barrett on the projection screen. The songs presented tonight spanned the whole Pink Floyd discography including early era songs (See Emily Play, Echoes), glory era songs (Comfortably Numb, Wish You Were Here), and even post Waters era (High Hopes, Learning To Fly). After having heard dozens of cover bands play Wish You Were Here, it was very enjoyable when Brit Floyd dug through Pink Floyd’s vast catalog and knocked us on our asses with Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert and The Fletcher Memorial Home from the unfairly underrated The Final Cut album. Speaking of Wish You Were Here that song was accompanied with a video montage again of Floyd throughout the years and ended with that famous shot of Waters, Gilmour, Mason, and Wright arms around each other waving to the world at Live 8 (a very emotional photo as Rick Wright passed away three years after that).
|Brit Floyd performing Wish You Were Here|
The real measure of any Pink Floyd tribute band is how well they pull off Comfortably Numb. WOW. This was the best version I have ever seen of the song live (aside from May 12th 2011 when I saw Gilmour stand on top of Waters Wall in London’s O2 Arena for Comfortably Numb – reviewed here). We even see a theatrical drugged out rock star on the chair (beside the lamp) getting a little pin prick while the song is being performed. The Gilmour guitar solo is spot on, and a disco ball with rebounding lasers accompanies the grand finally and Toronto gets royally rocked. Even the dancing hippy from our Deep Purple review makes an appearance!
|Comfortably Numb’s pin prick|
The show ends at 10:56 pm (roughly 2:35 of actual music with a 20 minute intermission). The band bills themselves as “The World’s Greatest Pink Floyd Tribute Show” and although I haven’t seen every single Floyd tribute band in the world, I would find it very hard to believe that anyone can do it better than these guys. I am not a music critic but a critical music fan and as someone who will have seen Waters current The Wall tour 9 times before it’s over, I am fully endorsing Brit Floyd as kick ass! Tonight in Toronto we experienced our favorite music and witnessed a show that is as good as any we have ever seen. Kudos guys (and gals)!
Verdict 5 out of 5: Pink Floyd’s timeless masterpieces presented in a barrage of sight and sound that would make Misters Waters, Gilmour, Mason, Wright (and Barrett) proud of their legacy.
Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Learning To Fly, See Emily Play, Money, High Hopes, Another Brick in The Wall Pt2, Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert, The Fletcher Memorial Home, Pigs, Brain Damage, Eclipse
20 minute intermission
Echoes, Time, The Great Gig In The Sky, Have A Cigar, Wish You Were Here, One Of These Days, Hey You, Is There Anybody Out There?, Nobody Home, Vera, Bring The Boys Back Home, Comfortably Numb
Run Like Hell
|Brit Floyd setlist from Toronto|
Brit Floyd Review by Terry Makedon