The Aussie Pink Floyd's Second Time show in Malta.

Everyone has his or her own interpretation of what a tribute band is or should be. In my humble experience, a tribute band is usually headed by a decent singer that can hit a majority of the notes of the singer he/she is trying to imitate and a capable band that is typically nowhere near the skill level of the band they are copying but does a decent job mimicking their heroes.
Overall, most tribute bands do a fairly decent job at paying homage to the musical past of some of the top legends in music and, for the most part I am satisfied paying 10 or 15 bucks to see them as they are adequate and I may never get an opportunity to see the real deal anytime soon so I am pacified.
Sometimes you run across a tribute band that really rocks and exceeds your expectations such as the Van Halen tribute band the Atomic Punks, the All-Female AC/DC tribute band Hell's Belles or the Led Zeppelin tribute band No Quarter. All three of these bands rock and they each have exceeded my expectations and I would easily pay to see them every chance that I could.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see another tribute band called Aussie Floyd for the second time in Malta, this time in the beautifully and perfectly set up stage at the Valletta’s Waterfront. As you can guess, they are a Pink Floyd tribute band from Australia. They are billed as the #1 tribute band in the world and it is well deserved. It was an amazing show. Easily the best sounding tribute band I have ever seen.
They covered Floyd classics such as Shine on Crazy Diamond, Sorrow, Echoes, Run Like Hell, Another Brick in the Wall, Wish You Were Here, Comfortably Numb etc.
They tour with a massive light and video show and a sound system that was incredibly clear. They were so good, that it is hard to classify them as a "tribute" band. They are awesome musicians and covered all the bases. They even had the 3 female backup singers and the lead female NAILED the Great Gig in the Sky off the Dark Side album. Absolutely amazing vocals.
The core band has 3 different lead singers, each of them hit their parts with ease and the guitar playing was near flawless and they did all the guitar parts on Shine On. The band even has a sax player. You could have put the biggest Floyd fans in there and had them close their eyes and they would never have been able to tell it wasn't Floyd.
So, what makes the Aussie Floyd so special? Well, a couple of things. First reason: they play material from the whole of Floyd's catalogue, right from the sixties' Piper at the Gates of Dawn up to material from The Division Bell. Unfortunately for the die-hard Floyd fan looking for some variation (like me); they still tend to focus on the big favourites of 'the crowd'.

Second reason: they are the most technically able Floyd tribute band's I've ever seen. Now, Pink Floyd's music might seem very difficult and complex, but most of it is actually remarkably simple to play, and the Aussies do that very well. Not perfect, there's still room for improvement (like the choice of keyboard sounds and some of the vocals), but still very well.

Third reason: the incredibly huge and impressive show they drag along. It's really like seeing a scaled down version of a 'real' Floyd Show. All of these added together make the Aussie Floyd the best Pink Floyd tribute band I know. And I'm probably not the only one with this opinion. I mean, a tribute band doesn't normally play at the original guitarist's birthday party. Indeed, all of these three reasons more than make up for the lack of improvisation in the band's renditions of classic Floyd material.

But not everything went flawlessly. It seemed to me that Run Like Hell was played at a slower pace than I'm used to, resulting in a less powerful, less driving version that missed impact for me. Also, during the extension of Another Brick in the Wall where additional solos are played I noticed a rather bare sound compared to other live versions I know. I then noticed that one of the guitarists was not playing the rhythm guitar parts, resulting in the mentioned bare sound.
A very smart element of the lightshow was the big backdrop screen. Besides the round screen with varilights attached to them - basically a smaller version of the Floyd's own Mr. Screen - there was a second big backdrop screen behind it, as wide as the full stage. During the show different projections would be shown on the inner and outer screen. Whereas the inner screen mostly showed the animations and film footage, the backdrop screen would often show beautiful coloured patterns and textures. The combination of these created a marvellously beautiful and sometimes even mesmerizing effect.
At times the round screen would not be used, resulting in projections spread across the full width of the stage. This worked especially well with a sea of flames which sometimes erupted some of the powerful tracks
And then the projections, another splendid element of the show. The band tries to recreate the same atmosphere as Pink Floyd with their characteristically film and animation footage. But the Aussie Floyd's add their own personal touch and sense of humour to it. So, instead of the filmed footage of the man in the flying bed in On The Run we're treated to computer animation of a sunglassed kangaroo in a flying bed. Also, Pink Floyd's footage of politicians for Brain Damage were replaced with other 'lunatics' of the past 20 years like Thatcher, Bush, Blair, Saddam Hussein , etc. Several other songs also featured film and animation, most of the time created from scratch but still using all of the familiar Floyd symbolism and images like the diver and desert of Wish You Were Here, the album cover of Pulse, the bricks and hammers and many more. A very creepy new version of the teacher and a harmless Pink for Another Brick In The Wall deserve special mentioning.
Most of these animations were very impressive, although there was the well-known limitation of creating computer animations of living beings and their movements which made some of the stuff look a bit cheesy. Also, not all of the projections were exactly sharp and in focus, which was a flaw which could have been avoided.
But there was more. The whole stage was filled with lots of moveable varilights which were used to create wonderful light patters and beams.
Several people we were with, or had talked too there, that had seen Floyd in the past said these guys were better than Floyd. Only thing missing was the massive outdoor stadium stage and the flying pigs. Truly a memorable show and one we will never miss if we get an opportunity to see them again. More than likely, Pink Floyd will never tour again as a band.
So, if you get the opportunity to see these guys, DO IT!
The setup on a barge on the sea made me feel like when I got to see Pink Floyd floating just like the last time I saw the real thing in Venice on the 15th of July of 1989 who for that special occasion had a massive stage floating.
It was a lovely feeling and who knows, maybe they will be back to please Pink Floyd die-hards since it is another waiting for pigs to fly before we might be able to see David, Roger, Nick and Richard together or even playing again as the real thing again...

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