Coming Back to Life with The Spirit of Pink Floyd

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EVENT: The Spirit of Pink Floyd Show

VENUE: Hull City Hall

REVIEW BY: Steven Windass

As a keen Pink Floyd fan growing up in an era where the only opportunities to see the boundary-breaking music performed by the musicians who wrote the songs has been somewhat fleeting, the chance to experience the soundscapes live and in person at Hull City Hall (one of only a handful of selected UK venues for the 2011 tour) was not to be missed.

‘The Spirit of Pink Floyd’ are a tribute band, just like the hundreds of pop and rock tribute bands that tour all manner of venues aiming to reproduce the real thing.

There are, however, a couple of key elements that set this group apart from the various Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC impersonators.

The eclectic and challenging musical legacy that Pink Floyd left behind requires some serious dedication to faithfully reproduce on stage; hence nine musicians are used to create the distinctive and experimental sound of ‘The Floyd’ through guitars, drums, saxophones, more guitars, more drums and synthesisers, with five of the band sharing the vocal responsibilities.

The other unique aspect to any Pink Floyd show, as anyone who has ever seen a performance recorded or live will testify, is the lighting and stage production.

A trademark of the original band, the use of an array of lighting patterns, effects and techniques synchronised with the music rivals the stage show of today’s top acts (and also goes some way to explaining the slightly higher than average tribute band ticket price of £20).

The lighting is complemented by a stage rig that incorporates a large circular video screen in the centre that intersperses images of war, destruction, fantasy sequences and the Wizard of Oz with the often spacious and thought provoking songs.

With a set-list that mixes the well travelled songs of the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’ albums, with some of the lesser known (but similarly intelligent) tracks from the post-Roger Waters era of the band, The Spirit of Pink Floyd tick all of the boxes that any fan would hope for. Well, almost.

I must confess I have seen The Spirit of Pink Floyd in action before, so this may cloud my judgement, but they have been on better form than they were on this night.

The distinctively clear, crystalline sound that The Spirit of Pink Floyd often successfully replicate was somewhat lost amongst the sheer volume of the wall of sound.

As a result, the lyrics were sometimes hard to make out, excellently performed instrumental parts were not brought out to the front and, by the time the show had reached the pre-encore climax of ‘Comfortably Numb’, the unwanted interference and crackling was overshadowing the soaring crescendos and scorching guitar solos.

The songs were also driven by a rockier beat than I had previously witnessed with this band, a rhythm style that does not really suit the nuances of Pink Floyd’s music.

Make no bones about it, this band are good at what they do.

The fact that their tour is now moving on to international venues in countries such as Russia and Norway is testament to their popularity.

They reproduce the fantastically complex and engaging music of Pink Floyd into a show that would, on a purely visual level, entertain those of a different musical persuasion.

At the start of the show I was intending to use such tags line as ‘Time and Money well spent’ and within this review, but they aren’t fully justified on this performance.

That said, I have no doubt that, on another night, this band would leave the audience thinking and feeling as though the original Pink Floyd had just given them a show, and experience, to savour...maybe I was just disappointed that there were no lasers this time.