Musical highs in Pink Floyd Experience (Johannesburg 2011)

Those mildly interested in this iconic band may well find this is a laid-back musical exploration into the extensive songbook of Pink Floyd. It’s all about quality musicianship and a fine eye for detail. There are no undue stage histrionics.

The producers of this show, which comes from Down Under, have conceived a concert that recreates the band’s landmark stadium show, The Division Bell Tour, which was released as an album in the 1990s entitled ‘Pulse’.

The musicianship is an outstanding factor in the show. Three performers, ace guitarist Darren ‘Daz’ Whittaker, singer Stan Gratkowski, both the brains behind the concept, and saxophonist Roger Rangitaawa, whose moody musical attack adds texture to the numbers, featured prominently.

The Pink Floyd Experience was last in Johannesburg in 2005 with their presentation of The Wall, and with their new show they again demonstrate the art of creating atmosphere. Employing laser technology that wraps around the audience, back screen projection and some awesome lighting patterns, this seven-piece band, with three dynamic female vocalists, tap into the whole psychedelic era that helped define Pink Floyd and its music.

It’s a visual and aural spectacle to behold. It’s all about the music, which requires attention, as this tight band swoop and soar through some of the most profound compositions of the rock era.

Rather than presenting a flamboyant stage presentation, the onus here is on the interpretation of the music – and it’s as near as you can realistically get to the real thing.  Singer Gratkowski has a wonderful grasp of the intricate lyrics and a fine voice to boot and he stays glued to the microphone. Surrounding him are Rob Ju on drums and acoustic guitar, Jeremy Fitzsimonson percussion, Ken Te Tau on bass and Glen Ahearn (another founder member) on keyboards. And standing deep are the three backing vocalists, Stephanie Hearfield, Lynley Joy Goodisson and Wini Baxter. And what a sound they manage to create.

The first half featured material such as Shine on You Crazy Diamond, the haunting A Great Day For Freedom (with slide guitar by Whittaker), and Mother, another highlight.

The second half was devoted to The Dark Side of the Moon with more than a dozen songs, including my all-time favourite, Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2), which certainly had the large audience going.  In the closer confines of a theatre, as opposed to an outdoor arena, Pink Floyd’s music has a rare intimacy and this was potently telegraphed to an appreciative audience.

This concert goes a long way in giving us some idea what they were all about.

The Pink Floyd Experience Pulse 2011 is on at The Mandela, Joburg Theatre until 4 September.
Feldman has been a journalist and arts critic for over 45 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa's biggest film and musical events. He is active in the freelance field and his work over the past 12 years has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines. He writes regularly for Artslink.co.za, The Citizen, South African Jewish Report, The Sunday Independent and is a contributor to "Eat Out" Magazine. He also contributes movie reviews on Mondays to The Gordon Hoffman Easy Morning Show on 1485 Radio Today (www.1485.org.za) and has worked on TV in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, "Video Games," which was released in 1988. After retiring from The Star in April, 1999, Feldman joined the PR and events management company, Dlamini Weil Communications, where he currently works as an entertainment and media consultant.

Peter Feldman (ARTSLINK SOUTH AFRICA) 08/19/2011 09:33:47


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