We have reviewed Brit Floyd in their previous visit to Toronto (read review here), so to shake things up we thought it would be cool to ask a musician to review the show this time round. Tyrone Buccione is the guitarist and vocalist of Canadian hard rock heavyweights TimeGiant. Not only is Tyrone a Pink Floyd fan, he has the distinct privilege of being the only T-Mak World contributor to have seen the full lineup of Pink Floyd at their last show together at London’s Hyde Park. Take it away Mr. Buccione….
Brit Floyd– Fulfilling My High Hopes
April 8 2014 – In the blistering “fry-an-egg-on-the-pavement-hot” summer of 2005, I had just finished my final high school exams and was waiting on the review of my college-submitted transcripts to depict my future. I was at a dead end part-time job and wanted to jump up and fly away on a brand new adventure before I was locked up into another institution that autumn. The “backpack across Europe” cliché didn’t appeal to me so I considered camping trips, road trips, mind trips, and even softball. Nah.
I remember the years of 2003-2005 being ones of exciting musical discovery for me. I dug greedily into a pile of album suggestions from friends and family which gave me the feeling of going for a walk in a new park every single day for two years and finding a twenty dollar bill each time. It started with a reference to a record called The Dark Side of the Moon, written by some guy named “Pink Floyd.” To be honest, I listened to the album once on my PORTABLE CD PLAYER (which I still proudly own) and discarded it in the “will maybe listen to later” stack. Then, in the summer of 2003, I went to the SARS Stock benefit show in Toronto, saw mega babes flashing a bunch of old dudes from a classic rock band which took its name from a power supply’s alternating current circuits and wondered what was so cool about a grown man wearing a school boy outfit and playing a guitar that had devil horns. Wait…devil horn guitar… flashing mega babes… songs about thunder…In what era did this all start? I could feel a cauldron of testosterone bubbling within my loins, with the Witch of Rock and Roll’s head tilted back, cackling with sweet seduction and images of power kicks, knee slides, Jack Daniels, and beautiful women dancing in my head. I bought Queen’s Greatest Hits the next day and then started to appreciate rock and roll for more than the “rock star lifestyle” stinking up pop culture’s shallow swamp. It was some of the most musically interesting stuff I have ever heard and I could completely relate to it.
I eventually made my way back to The Dark Side of the Moon and when I reached the guitar solo in ‘Time,’ I was bitch slapped into a realization that A) David Gilmour was a living guitar God, not unlike Hercules, and was granted access to this puny Earth by omniscient rock and roll beings, B) that I wanted to pick up a Stratocaster and be in a rock band to make music that could move people and C) THAT PINK FLOYD IS THE BEST ROCK BAND THAT EVER EXISTED IN THE KNOWN RECORDED HISTORY OF TIME AND SPACE. I dug into all of their albums and by the summer of 2005, some of my friends thought I was a complete obsessive weirdo who only talked about Pink Floyd and looked odd trying to grow out his stupid curly Italian hair.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, Pink Floyd would finally reunite with Roger Waters for a short performance at Live 8 in London, England. I then heard tell of such an event. So naturally I quit my job, begged my mom for a plane ticket (thanks again mom!!!), pissed off my girlfriend, flew to London without a concert ticket, snuck into Hyde Park and saw Pink Floyd play their last show.
Describing the surreal feeling and the once-in-a-lifetime experience of that show in mere words on this page would be a crime, but what I can do is describe how Brit Floyd came closest to the real thing than any other tribute act I’ve seen. They really did nail it, putting musicality, tones and live performance above the light show and costumes. Not to knock the theatre and production of it though as I was very excited to see the circular projector screen made famous on the Dark Side of the Moon tour in 1973 and also felt they did justice to each prop that made the show a worldwide hot ticket event. The curtains of lights and blinds of lasers only added to the drama of the music. It was like a Classic Albums Live show on horse steroids. No, bear steroids. No, elephant steroids. They sounded EXACTLY like the band, especially when bassist Ian Cattell sang Waters’ later work and when musical director/guitarist Damian Darlington joined in vocally as David Gilmour.
The song cues were perfect and if you closed your eyes, you could imagine listening to the original album versions on headphones in your bedroom. As the night was celebrating the release of Pink Floyd’s new Discovery box set, Brit Floyd were able to play some deep album cuts that seemed, over time, obscured by clouds (pun very much intended) and also sample from a very wide range of material released throughout the band’s career. These rare tunes were the ones I loved the most, especially Gilmour’s first head turner from the Obscured by Clouds album, ‘Childhood’s End,’ Animals’ ‘Pigs’ (with customary inflatable pig,) Meddle’s ‘One of These Days,’ Saucerful of Secrets’ ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,’ Piper at the Gates of Dawn’s ‘Astronomy Domine,’ Atom Heart Mother’s ‘Fat Old Sun,’ and Division Bell’s ‘Take It Back’ and ‘High Hopes,’ with a barn burner of a slide guitar solo on the latter by Darlington. Scattered among these diamonds in the rough were the obvious hits. These were played with a detail and respect to the original sounds and tones on the records that set Brit Floyd apart from other cover bands.
I remember the show opening with ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ and getting excited listening to how identical Rob Stringer’s keyboards sounded to Rick Wright’s. Guitarist Bobby Harrison, drenched in spotlight beams, served the first Gilmour Stratocaster hors d’oeuvre of the evening while the trio of busty and beautiful backup babes snuck their way on stage, ready to gush vocal harmony orgasms. Wielding triple saxophones (baritone, alto and soprano) Carl Brunson made original Floyd touring hand Dick Parry look like an amateur while later on fulfilling a quadruple duty of assistant percussion. He joined the impressive precision drumming of Arran Ahmun on ‘Learning To Fly,’ kicking off the set immediately after ‘Shine On.’
Bobby Harrison stayed relatively quiet throughout the first half of the show and I thought he was playing second fiddle to Darlington’s supreme axe handling. Then out of nowhere, Harrison opened the flood gates, mesmerizing me with an undertow of envy and drowning me with his virtuosity. He reminded me why I loved Stratocaster tones so much and how gratifying it can be to witness a well-played guitar solo. How ironic that he shared the same last name as another slightly popular sixties guitar hero.
A great moment for me was waiting for the guitar solo in ‘The Fletcher Memorial Home.’ I remember the time in my life when I decided that Gilmour’s solo in that song was one of my very favourite of his pieces of art and how I was floored at how much it said in so few notes – yet with so much colour! When the passage finally arrived I was awestruck at how identical it sounded and a shit-eating grin spread across my face.
When the ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ came around, vocalist Ola Bienkowska literally made me, and my two other friends, cry like babies. I remember looking at the complete stranger to my right and seeing her tearing up as well. It was by far the most moving musical performance I had ever witnessed and I don’t think I had ever been affected by a connection so rapidly and so intensely. She received a very lengthy and very well deserved standing ovation from the sold out crowd.
The band concluded the second set with ‘Comfortably Numb,’ complete with Cattell in a doctor’s coat and clipboard tending to the junkie “Pink” who was sitting in a familiar and iconic armchair beside a house lamp. During the final guitar solo, a VERY large disco ball crept down from the ceiling like a spider in the darkness and then as if cued by Harrison’s almost tangible passion, it lit up and fascinated the hundreds of faces below. With both the sounds climaxing and the visuals pulsing, it was almost too much of a sensory overload for the body to properly experience at once; but just enough to satisfy the audience and create a breathtaking and unexplainable story for each observer. I’m sure it’s like trying to explain a UFO abduction.
The encore, ‘Run Like Hell,’ then brought the audience both to their knees and then to their feet, with Gilmour’s (Harrison) melodic rolling Telecaster riff sandwiching Waters’ (Cattell) aggressively direct poetry; this was the secret tasty recipe that made the Pink Floyd progressive rock hoagie the most famous in all the land.
All in all, Brit Floyd knew how to entertain the average, Floyd-dabbling concert goer yet also satisfy the true rock purist fan’s high expectations. The full set list from London, Ontario can be viewed here (the same set list as Toronto performance)
As the band bowed to the audience, I looked around at the people applauding. I saw kids no older than eight years old, freshmen college co-eds, moms, dads, grandparents; this music reached every generation in some way or another. The crazy part was, it was a sold out performance of some Pink Floyd songs being showcased by a surrogate band. This was not only a testament to the skill level and attention to detail from Brit Floyd as performers, it also proved the original band’s legacy and what great songs are capable of. The recording of a bunch of tracks from four stoners moved people, including myself, to stand up and expel significant amounts of energy to create new art, to form something eternal and transcend the material, to find more value out of life than the things we are told to value, to glorify experience and to produce ideas that can pry open the most stubborn of closed hearts. It even moved groups of people to get together and recreate that same music, spawning careers, birthing small cultures and focussing tremendous amounts of detail auditioning, rehearsing, recreating props, sounds, eliminating that feedback from bar 16 of song 12, etc. This is how powerful a few notes and passages on a vinyl record can be. The music of Pink Floyd vigorously lives on to this day and clearly has a very active market.
Thinking back to the guitar solos, singing girls, percussion acrobatics, and various key-laid soundscapes, I realized that at the end of the day, people came simply to see a rock band performing rock songs the right way. Even though it was a tribute act, it showed me what a concert might be like in the 70’s when bands spent all of their time thinking about a certain guitar tone, two lyrical lines, how this section flows into that one, when the harmony should come in – all for the sake of producing art that could be appreciated with an aged cheddar. This is a product of true rock and roll when allowed to develop, the same stuff that industry people these days like to stay away from because it “makes no money.” Well, I hope that industry attitude continues on so I can have something interesting to write about in my rock band. ;)
Brit Floyd was a truly inspiring experience and a dead-on-balls-accurate celebration of Pink Floyd’s live show. The combination of music to production was just right and I felt the former being lifted by the latter, the way it was meant to be. I would recommend it to anybody looking to go on a rejuvenating and serotonin-pumping brain vacation.
VERDICT: 5 stars. Duh.
Editors Note: Check out Tyrone’s band TimeGiant below performing I Am The Fire a T-Mak World Favorite – we thank him for his Brit Floyd review.