Reviewer: Selwyn Knight
There can be few who aren’t at least aware of Pink Floyd – pioneers of progressive and psychedelic music, they sought perfection in all they did including performing live. This aspiration led to the replacement of their original creative force, Syd Barrett, who became unreliable because of mental health issues, with David Gilmour. The pursuit of perfection also led to long gaps between albums as they worked to refine the sound. Under the leadership of Roger Waters, they found their feet in 1973 with the release of The Dark Side of the Moon, surely one of the finest prog rock albums ever, and in 1975 of Wish You Were Here. However, creative and personal tensions in the band turned band members against each other so that original members, Rick Wright and, later, Waters himself left or were removed. Under the leadership of Gilmour, the band undertook its final tour in 1994 with the Pulse tour, in which Wright but not Waters took part. It is this tour that Brit Floyd is seeking to emulate on this latest tour, The Immersion World Tour 2017, which today reached Symphony Hall in Birmingham.
Despite being such pioneers, Pink Floyd eschewed many of the trappings of success and were quite unassuming. The last band photo for many years was on 1971’s Meddle and is probably one of the most self-effacing images used for that purpose. Similarly, those who saw them live will know that live performances became spectacular with the music and visuals taking centre stage and other interaction between the band and audience being minimal. Whether by design or a similar preference, Brit Floyd does the same with band members’ personalities firmly under check.
And it is without doubt that Brit Floyd comprises superb musicians and vocalists who work hard to successfully recreate Pink Floyd’s sound in its various incarnations between 1967 and 1994 – although making no effort to look like the original band members. The vocals recall those of Barrett, Gilmour and Waters extremely well, and Gilmour’s instantly recognisable guitar style is reconstructed impeccably. The backing singers, too, are pitch perfect, especially Angela Cervantes who recreates Clare Torry’s iconic vocal to The Great Gig in the Sky flawlessly.
The music is supported by a heavyweight light show using high-powered lighting, lasers and the iconic circular screen, used for custom projections designed by Bryan Kolopski. These include rather touching tributes to both Wright (in Wish You Were Here) and Barrett (in Shine On You Crazy Diamond).
Musically and visually, this is a superb recreation of Pink Floyd’s music. The need to synchronise with the visuals and the paucity of audience interaction maybe make the experience a slightly sterile one. Nevertheless, the capacity audience at Symphony Hall, many of whom will have seen the original, lapped it all up and left sated albeit with ringing ears. It seems clear that the surviving members of Pink Floyd won’t be touring again; in a world lacking the original, Brit Floyd is probably the next best way to experience the phenomenon that is a Pink Floyd show.
Runs until 24 February 2017 and on tour | Image: Contributed