Review by Rob Harbers. Photography by Reef Reid.
Continuing a habit they have been involved in for nearly 25 years, the Pink Floyd Experience are currently touring a show based on “The Wall”, with an appetiser of the “Animals” album. Having wound their way through the country, they are coming to the end of the trail, with dates in Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland closing out this sojourn.
As a general rule, cover bands don’t fall within the purview of Ambient Light, but given the nature of this production, such rules go out the window. The Pink Floyd Experience take pride in reproducing the sound, feel and atmosphere of the original band, bringing to new generations an appreciation for this iconic and influential music.
As I’ve seen this band many times over the years, to the extent that they’ve made me get far more into Pink Floyd than I ever was before encountering them, my perspective is possibly somewhat skewed and less than impartial, so my plus-one tonight has given me the benefit of the impressions of one who has less enjoyed than endured the source material.
The show commenced with a clever and humorous visual element, which I won’t spoil for you, but soon we were hearing the familiar acoustic intro of “Pigs On The Wing 1” leading the way into a note-perfect rendition of the full “Animals” album, enhanced by a stream of visuals projected on the large screen, which complemented the lyrical themes of the songs. The screen was a hugely effective device, as it enabled the players to be seen behind it, while providing the aforementioned visual enhancement, and being the focal point of a dramatic moment in itself (look out for it!). Bonus content before intermission came in the form of “Welcome To The Machine”, giving the purists something extra to please their ears.
After the brief refuelling break, the lights went down and the opening bars of “In The Flesh” rolled out across the arena, accompanied by some visual surprises, which all served to alert the audience that some serious entertainment was coming their way. Lead vocalist and showman extraordinaire Stan Gratkowski then proceeded to lead us through the full masterwork that is “The Wall”, accompanied by a band whose passion for the music they play was hugely evident. The presentation in this format brought out the narrative thread of the album, enhancing its unifying concept. To provide too much description would be at the risk of giving away too much of what awaits you if you go, and I don’t want to be that spoiler guy! I’ll just say that my plus-one described it as a true rock opera and a real show, one which she would see again. High praise indeed from one considerably more casual about the source material than I am.
The crowd, while being (disappointingly) considerably below the venue’s capacity, were nevertheless hugely responsive and appreciative of the production, and drawn from a wide age demographic, showing the enduring place that Pink Floyd hold in many lives, and the appreciation that this troupe inspire.
To give you too many more words would put me in danger of over-egging the pudding, (and push me even further past deadline!) so I’ll give you an executive summary: If you’re a fan of Pink Floyd, go to this show if you can – you’ll appreciate the skill with which the music is recreated. If you’re the significant other of a fan, forced to endure the music over your time together, try going along too – it just might enhance your appreciation of what they’ve been trying to tell you all this time! If you’re havering over whether to go or not, just do it, you’ll have no regrets. If you’re any degree of fan or fan-adjacent, you owe it to yourself to see this show. In short, might you like to go to the show? You would, and you’ll bathe in the space-cadet glow! Go and glow!!!