Aussie Pink Floyd returns

For better or worse, there is a certain degree of musical snobbery when it comes to the very touchy subject of bands who choose to play the material of other bands instead of writing their own. Some musicians and songwriters furrow their eyebrows and look disdainfully upon cover acts, somehow seeing them as a lesser pedigree of musician therefore somehow less important than their own original work.

But the members of the Australian Pink Floyd Show band could care less about how they are perceived in musical circles. The fact of the matter is, they have become one of the world’s most popular tribute acts, paying homage to one of the biggest bands of modern times, Pink Floyd.

The Australian Pink Floyd brings its show to the Moncton Coliseum tomorrow for a show starting at 8 p.m. The Aussie Pink Floyd concert experience has been hailed as the closest way for fans of Pink Floyd to live (or re-live) the live show experience the latter became known for in its later years.

With more than 3 million concert tickets sold over the course of the past decade (a remarkable feat for any band), the Australian Pink Floyd Show has been known to tour specific albums from the Pink Floyd catalogue on some of its previous tour outings. For this most recent tour, however, including this week’s show at the Coliseum, the group will perform approximately 20 of Pink Floyd’s biggest hits. As far as vocalist-guitarist Damian Darlington is concerned, the group has become popular beyond its wildest dreams, a fate that certainly doesn’t greet all tribute acts.

“Personally, I have been with band for 17 years now and didn’t quite imagine that things would go as well as they have gone for us,” he says via phone from the tour’s stop in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

“Normally, tribute bands just aren’t given the occasion to rise to the level we have so, in actuality, it is really amazing that we have gotten to the level we have.”

Damian credits some of the group’s success to the attention to detail its members put into ensuring all facets of the live show are very closely aligned with what fans would expect from Pink Floyd itself.

“We travel with a fairly substantial production, much bigger than what most tribute bands would tour with,” he laughs. “Included in the show are 17-18 moving lights, inflatable items and lasers but we realize that it is a must, especially if you’re playing Pink Floyd’s music.

“I think we have been able to grow the band’s popularity due to the attention to detail included and the investments in the production of the show. We are very careful that we never become complacent about leaving anything out.”

Damian says that the group has been fortunate to be well received by Floyd fans, especially where the original Pink Floyd has not actively toured since the mid 1990s.

“I think fans of Pink Floyd largely welcome us with open arms,” he says. “There are certainly enough of them who come out to the shows.

“There always seems to be a never-ending debate, however, about the songs we perform though. You have the truly serious fans that would like to hear us play some of Pink Floyd’s obscure material but, for the most part, people walk away from the show happy. It is always a balancing act to include a little something for everybody in the course of a show.”

The Australian Pink Floyd Show is a rarity in the music business in that it has been “sanctioned” by Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. It is far from typical for a “real” band to acknowledge a band paying homage to it but, according to Darlington, Gilmour couldn’t have been more gracious when they met him for the first time in 1994.

“We were sitting back stage after a show one night and suddenly, there was a knock at the dressing room door and who pokes his head around but David himself.

“Once we picked ourselves up off the floor, he joined us for a beer and was very complimentary in his thoughts on the show he had just seen.”

Gilmour was so taken with the band’s performance that he extended an invitation to the group to attend Pink Floyd’s end-of-tour party at the conclusion of the Division Bell tour. The band also performed at Gilmour’s 50th birthday party in 1996 at his behest.

Asked whether or not Gilmour keeps in contact with the various members of the Australian Pink Floyd, Darlington says, “It is not as though we’re on his Christmas card list but we have been told that he knows what we’re up to.”

With more than 100 shows regularly scheduled in the run of a typical year, the Australian Pink Floyd anticipates a long life ahead.

“We play quite a bit throughout Europe and the U.K. and have played most places in South America as well as Israel and of course the United States and Canada.

“It has become so much more than anyone could have ever expected. It’s wonderful though.”

Article published in November 9, 2010 edition of the Times & Transcript