Out Floyding Floyd at the Ipswich Regent
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, are touring the country again with an updated show.
Described as “the best tribute band in the world”, Floyd drummer Nick Mason has gone on record as saying that “they probably do Floyd better than we do”.
During a concert, if you close your eyes you could easily believe they were the originals.
It’s best not to close your eyes though, as like the band they reproduce they have a light show 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 Floyd fans and some of the backroom team behind the Aussie Floyd Show worked behind the scenes for Pink Floyd themselves.
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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.
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“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, the name taken from a line of the lyrics in the song Shine On You Crazy Diamond.
“We’ve just arrived here from the Czech Republic and so far the tour is going well.”
The band, originally formed in 1988 in Melbourne, still has two of the original members in Jason and guitarist/vocalist Steve Mac, explains 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 more than three million.
Bassist Colin Wilson, who joined the band in 1992 says: “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 year’s tour they covered 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.
“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.
“We’ 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.”
For this tour, they have a special guest.
Singer Lorelei McBroom will join 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.
“And they’ve all been doing very well,” says Jason. “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.
“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 next? 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 etc.
“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 at the Regent Theatre, Ipswich, on Saturday, March 31.