February 16, 2012
Good cover bands are hard to come by, as seen by the local acts that fill bars and clubs around the country each weekend, singing the songs of the past. The bigger names – Dark Star Orchestra and The Fab Faux are notable because they accurately recreate the music of the Grateful Dead and The Beatles, respectively, without donning costumes or trying to make the music their own. They have simply learned the music and play it as close to the original as possible and in doing so, fill a void left by the absence of the bands they cover. Some would call them tribute bands, but that distinction is reserved for the groups that take on the style and exact lineup of the original band (i.e. The Fab Faux has five members) and leaves little room for error or interpretation.
For a band as complicated as Pink Floyd, both in terms of music and history, the number of cover bands is akin to The Beatles; there’s The Machine, Australian Pink Floyd, Brit Floyd and the band I was fortunate to see, The Pink Floyd Experience from San Diego, California. Opening up with the entire album ‘Wish You Were Here‘ and nailing all five epic songs (Shine on Your Crazy Diamond I-V, Welcome to the Machine, Have a Cigar, Wish You Were Here, Shine on You Crazy Diamond VI-IX) without skipping a beat. For my favorite album of them all by Floyd, I was impressed.
Then a brief intermission where the lights revealed family night at The Palace Theater. Many fans are older now and brought their kids, mostly teenagers but a few tweens as well. Families were milling about, grabbing concessions and ignoring merchandise with mellow aplomb; surely this is the exact opposite of Floyd when they played Wish You Were Here at venues like this back in the 1970s. But a mixed crowd leads to a new generation or two with the ability to enjoy some of the greatest music ever written. Ranging from the psychedelia of the 60s to the rock anthems of the 70s to the rock opera of The Wall in the 80s and the scraps left over in the 90s when David Gilmour toured and Roger Waters didn’t, Pink Floyd spans 6 decades of music and returns to stadiums this summer (and The Times Union Center June 28th) with The Wall once again. The light show isn’t the same with The Pink Floyd Experience, but they make a great effort to recreate the entire experience, nailing the music and sound but lacking with the lighting.
Set 2 started out with On the Run->Time from Dark Side of the Moon before mellowing out into the spooky vibrations of Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun. An extended sax solo front stage recreated the ‘Careless Whisper’ feeling from 1984, forgetting that the extended sax solo should remain in the 80s. Learning to Fly, the lone 1990s Floyd offering was anthemic and ensured that all eras were covered tonight. The group announced that they would play a song for Syd Barrett but sadly, no Bike but Interstellar Overdrive instead. Money and a short version of Echoes (minus the spaciness) followed, along with another sax solo before a random guy in a jacket adorned with light bulb took the stage for the stormy intro to Hey You. The surround sound effects were at their best here, getting fans to turn their heads as the sound traversed throughout the audience and segued into Comfortably Numb. A packed sandwich of Run Like Hell -> Another Brick in the Wall Part Two -> Run Like Hell got the audience singing along with the band while the giant pig took to the space between the audience and the stage, drifting up and down until fans had left the show shortly before 10pm.
The members of The Pink Floyd Experience lauded Albany for providing a great turnout once again. This was a show that is very worth seeing, although I would have liked another 45-60 minutes of some more obscure songs. But I can’t complain, good cover bands are hard to come by.
Dopapod with special guest Timbre Coup
Following The Pink Floyd Experience, I headed over the Jillians, where Timbre Coup continued their residency for February, opening up for funk/electronica group Dopapod, another regular in the Capital District. Coup’s electric set for a packed house continues to be one of the highlights of music in the area, cornering the electro/prog-rock market and garnering new fans throughout the month of February. Dopapod followed with strong set of songs from their new album ‘Drawn Onward’ and random and funky dance numbers. Dopapod will be back in a couple short months, potentially opening up for a bigger name in the electronica genre. It’s a big week next week for Timbre Coup, with their CD release party of ‘Knuckles and Valleys’ on 2/23 at Jillians with Higher Organix opening. Don’t miss the final night of their Jillian’s residency!