The much-admired Pink Floyd tribute band returns to DeVos Performance Hall on Monday. The Local Spins interview with group’s frontman and a look at why tribute bands have soared in popularity.
Pigs. Moons. Bells, dogs, big walls and songs about alienation, nostalgia and a missing band member.
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Pink Floyd had all of that — and Brit Floyd brings the music of the psychedelic rock heavyweights back to life with what many describe as a stunning live show that touches down once again at Grand Rapids’ DeVos Performance Hall at 8 p.m. Monday (May 15).
The show will feature classic tracks from the album “Dark Side of the Moon” in celebration of its release 50 years ago, including “Time,” “Money,” “Us and Them” and “The Great Gig in the Sky,” along with other tunes made famous by the celebrated space-rock pioneers.
Brit Floyd bandleader Damian Darlington first encountered Pink Floyd in his early teen years when he heard the group’s epic release, “The Wall.” By then, he was already working on his guitar chops.
“I’m from a large family. My older brothers and sisters are also musicians,” he notes. “I got a guitar for Christmas.”
When he heard the album, with its songs, sound effects, narration and storyline about a depressed rock star recalling his youth and reacting to his circumstances, he was hooked.
“That was my gateway to Pink Floyd,” he concedes.
Darlington then sought out other albums, from early, more psychedelic efforts like “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn” to ’70s classics “Wish You Were Here” and “Animals.” And, of course, “Dark Side Of The Moon,” which was on the charts an astounding 736 weeks.
Fast forward several years, and Darlington found himself playing the music he fell in love with as a kid. He became a member of the Australian Pink Floyd Show, then left that in 2011 to start his own.
“I had the chance to join a (Pink Floyd) tribute band,” he says. “It’s lasted almost 30 years.”
TRIBUTE BANDS PROLIFERATE WITH MORE AFFORDABLE CONCERTS
Darlington is not alone when it comes to fascination with tribute acts.
A dizzying number of bands are reviving the sounds of Tom Petty, Prince, Michael Jackson and other artists living and dead. Brit Floyd is the second tribute act to perform at DeVos recently, with the Chicago tribute band Brass Transit joining the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra in March.
Several factors have contributed to the popularity of tribute bands. Many original groups such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Cream no longer exist, while others no longer tour. And the lofty ticket prices for many original acts still out there, such as the Eagles or Aerosmith, can be daunting for fans.
Darlington says Pink Floyd tribute bands are especially popular.
“Every country in Europe has one. Italy has about 50,” he says with a laugh. “There’s even a Mongolian Pink Floyd band.
“I think it’s a desire (for audiences) to experience this music live. For those who were young when it came out, it’s the soundtrack of their lives. It helped create their identity. The younger generation who weren’t born (when the band was recording and touring) want to experience it live.”
While he enjoyed the music of progressive rock luminaries such as Yes, King Crimson and Rush, as well as ’80s bands like Tears For Fears, the music of Pink Floyd stood out as unique, both lyrically and sonically.
“They all pushed the boundaries, and their musical ability was always attractive. Pink Floyd was more thought-provoking. The space within the music – there’s something timeless. The music never gets old,” he concludes.
Another thing that set Pink Floyd apart was the band’s lavish presentations, and Brit Floyd doesn’t skimp there either.
“The imagery was groundbreaking, and we recreate it as best we can,” he says. The stunning light show, iconic circular screen, lasers, inflatables and theatrics don’t come cheap: Darlington says re-creating the show and the music, with as many as 11 people onstage, makes it one of the most expensive productions on the road.
The two-and-a-half hour show will also include highlights from Pink Floyd’s extensive catalogue of albums, including tracks from “The Wall,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Animals, “The Division Bell” and more.
Brit Floyd has circled the world, with sold-out tours across Europe, North America, South America and the Middle East. The band has performed at venues including London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver, Colorado, and the historic Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.
Tickets, $45.50-$56.50, for Brit Floyd: 50 Years Of Dark Side Of The Moon at DeVos Performance Hall available online at ticketmaster.com.
VIDEO: Brit Floyd, “Time-Breathe”
VIDEO: Brit Floyd, “Comfortably Numb”
VIDEO: Brit Floyd, Backstage Sneak Peek
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