Pink Floyd. The legends. The stories. The visions and the colors. The imagery and form. The words and The void. The mellow warmth and the choral highs. The dystopian landscape and the virtuosic inflection. Pink Floyd.
Who among us has never felt or experienced the Floydian point of view especially down in the city of rock (or pubs), Bengaluru! In case you thought there was nothing more, Breathe – The Sound of Floyd, decided their gig in Bangalore last year was worth revisiting, and hence the Floyd Tribute concert at UB city on Saturday 26th February was proclaimed! Now, I personally have been listening to Floyd even before I knew to shave, and have been privileged enough to have watched a Roger Waters Concert in Mumbai. So forgive me for looking down my high horse atop a pedestal.
We arrived at the luxuriant UB City parking lot at 6:30 that Saturday evening, made our way up top to the amphitheater arena and squeezed into the Q – which by now resembled a S, and we whiled away some time trading heavy concert stories, or at least whatever we could… umm recall. The entry into the venue was flanked by Ducati stalls, which seemed to gather all the incoming attention and passed it on to the adjacent stall stocking KF beer. The arena was simply amazing, the amphitheater sinks from the restaurant level into one corner of the UB City building offering the audience a spectacular view of the city and offering a nice contrast to the glass facade of nearby sky-rises. The ubiquitous floating pig was keeping watch above us while the makeshift ‘eye’ trussed at the rear of the performing stage, fitted with four moving-head projectors trying their best to throw out psychedelic-ness. Because we were late, we could only manage bad outlying seats on the semi circular seating area, which I estimate could seat 1300. People kept pouring in, and the adventurous ones would tip toe around to look for precious squatting space (Really? You’re holding a spot for three friends with that cap?)
The show kicked off eventually with Wolfpack playing some popular tunes. I could only recognise U2 but I swear the other tracks were popular too! The frontman Rajeev was holding on to the by-now 1500 strong crowd. My suspicions of the FOH system were slowly coming true. Probably not the best choice of speaker cabinets for the venue, but the sunken level of the stage directed the small stack to within the first six or seven rows only; with speech intelligibility dropping exponentially thereon. Most of Rajeev’s quips and gags were lost on us and the harmonic richness of the music output was clearly absent if you were standing on any one of the higher rows or even worse, saw the crowd below and decided to stay up near the advertising stalls.
I decided to run up for a beer and right then the boys got on stage and threw everyone into a frenzy. Standard tracks like ‘Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2′ were just the thing to warm up the crowd. The guys were super-talented and really, really tight on stage. Chris Barnes (vocals + guitar) displayed stellar singing, awesome chops on the occasional solo and was lively and chatty between songs. Peter Worley (bass + vocals) – No nonsense here, the man keeps the lines simple and the groove tight. Joel Anderson (keyboard) pulled off all the organ licks and spacey pads just like the late great Rick Wright. Andy Fenton (lead guitar+pedal steel) has put in his work in going for the Gilmour tone. Being the seasoned artiste he is, he most definitely has the feel and soul we all love in a good Floyd solo. Dave Gee (drums) – probably the most experienced in the band; had the style and the space; perfect flams and rolls – but was criminally made to play on a very poorly mic’ed drum kit.
After some initial buzz, they hit the ‘Dark Side of the Moon‘ albeit minus ‘Great Gig in the Sky’, obviously due to the scat vocal necessity. Next , (in my opinion the highlight of the evening) was a track you would never ever have heard a band cover live. A song that Pink Floyd originally spent 6 months working on and tentatively titled ‘Return of the Son of Nothing’, a song that would be a forerunner to the great DSOTM album. A track called ‘Echoes‘. Complete with immaculate vocal harmony , the ethereal undertones and that psychedelic instrumental spot with whining-squealing-guitar-whammy- sounds-spaceytrippy-madness dealt out copiously. ‘Sheep’ from the Animals album was next followed by ‘Sorrow’. TheÂ eye in the rear was faithfully reproducing some classic PF imagery and visuals blending lasers and color, crescendoing into some fireworks for the grandiose ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond‘. The audience participation was absolute with the whole crowd joining in with the lyrics spot-on perfect. Tracks towards the fag end of the show ran through ‘Run run run’ and ‘Coming Back to Life’. The finale spots were reserved for the all important ‘Wish you were here’ and an encore with Rajeev for ‘Comfortably Numb’, with a thunderous guitar solo to drop curtains on the concert.
All in all, the show could have been managed a little better, with tighter security to keep jokers from running across the stage to grab a quick photograph with the guitarist after a terrific song. The sound was ill-suited to the venue and the desired sound effects typical of Pink Floyd music – so maybe a line array could have proved a better option. The lighting and lasers, did everything possible, but still ended up disappointing. Perhaps this was truly a tribute concert in these logistical aspects, but there’s no doubting or denying the fact that the band truly brought the heavens down on UB city and everyone who was there, experiencing a show that was worthy of the real thing.