I am still coming to terms with the concept of tribute bands.

I believe that good music should be played live to audiences, reviving its creative energy. No-one expects to hear classical music played by the composer. It’s about fresh interpretation and new identification.

There are covers bands, West End theatre shows, films and tribute bands to share other musicians’ work. Occasionally an artist or band does a definitive version of someone else’s song. There are so many different ways to listen to your favourite artist’s music.

So before I go any further in my musings about tribute bands, I have to tell you that Brit Floyd’s Discovery show is fantastic. The musicians are brilliant, the singers are stunning and the staging of the Discovery show is wonderful. The set list takes you back and forth in time through Pink Floyd’s extensive catalogue. Many of the old favourites and a few surprises were included. The lasers, lights and visuals are informative and at times breathtaking. As a tribute band they obviously have a great following, with standing ovations and a huge merchandising stand with queues. The band does a meet and greet signing session after the show too.

The band doesn’t attempt to look like members of Pink Floyd. There’s no physical identification that I could see. And, of course, Pink Floyd have their own complicated history of disagreements and reconciliations. If you are trying to cover over forty years of music, it is difficult to choose a particular time and image, let alone line up.

For me this was a parallel version of Pink Floyd. If they had been a stadium rock band this might have been how they would appear in a parallel universe. There was a flashiness and virtuosity in the performances which for me was out of keeping with the restraint and psychedelic subtlety of the original music. It was impressive, but it made me nostalgic for something else.

So, instead of feeling satisfied with an evening of Pink Floyd music and an inspired stage show, I came out longing for a lost Pink Floyd. I wished I had seen them with Syd. I yearned to have been one of those hippy dancing girls at the UFO club. I wanted a home made trippy light show, not lasers. It brought out overwhelming nostalgia in me.

I can still remember a top deck of the bus conversation with school friends about a new single we had heard, ‘Arnold Layne’. I was privileged to have seen Pink Floyd play an early version of ‘Atom Heart Mother’ at the Bath Festival in 1970. ‘The Madcap Laughs’ was the soundtrack to my Saturdays working in a hippy emporium. When I was a teenager, living in Borneo, I had a friend who used to put ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ on full volume in his house so I could hear it in mine. Those sounds filtered through a jungle garden seemed the essence of the surreal nature of Pink Floyd’s music. The lyrics to ‘The Wall’ were often quoted to me by students when I was teaching English abroad, a piece of culture shared in unexpected places.

I went to the concert with a friend who has a similarly long history with Pink Floyd. We both wondered whether the audience were fans of Pink Floyd, or fans of Brit Floyd. When a tribute band takes on an identity, they have to interpret it in their own way. They can’t recreate the life experiences and creative processes that took the original musicians to where they found themselves. And as talented musicians in their own right, they have to take their interpretation somewhere else in turn.

I wondered if I was too old to appreciate this version of a tribute. There was too much missing for me.

I don’t want to undermine the show and the musicians. Take a look at them on YouTube. It is a musically and technically amazing show. But I don’t think I will be reviewing a tribute band again.











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Commenting On: Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 2/122014 - Brit Floyd








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