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The Pink Floyd Experience: Concert Review

I was sour on cover bands. I was one of those condemnable rockists who took every opportunity to spout my “I will listen to nothing but the original” treatise in blog posts and opinion piece. This was until Wednesday February 15, when The Pink Floyd Experience knocked me from my annoyingly high horse and into the sweet psychedelia and power of Floyd.

To qualify, The Pink Floyd Experience is far from the typical music listener’s conception of a cover band. Each of the musicians in PFX (their preferred abbreviation) has been playing music since their teens, and has had a long, varied professional career. But like the army of Floyd cover bands that rocked garages across the nation in the 1970s, the guys from PFX came together for the love of Pink Floyd’s music, which bassist Gus Beaudoin described as “some of the greatest music ever written.”

PFX began the show by playing the entire Wish You Were Here (1975) album, which obligatory extended jam sessions aside, runs 44:28. The band members made no introduction until Wish You Were Here was finished. In true prog rock fashion, the audience’s presence wasn’t recognized until they were encouraged to sing along to the iconic chorus: “How I wish, how I wish you were here, we’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year...”

This was exactly as it should have been. Pink Floyd, through the varying decades and lineups, maintained an alien seriousness about their art, which sometimes clashed with the expectations of fun-loving concertgoers (i.e. the Spitting Incident of 1977).

The venue undoubtedly helped to fuel the genuine nature of this particular Pink Floyd experience. The State Theatre, located in Downtown Ithaca, makes the quiet, intimate performances of the past possible once again. There truly isn’t a bad seat in the house (although, I must say, being 5 rows from the front of the stage was more than awesome), and the energy of the musicians can be felt from the top of the highest balcony (where I sat when I saw Joan Baez 2 years ago).

Upon the successful completion of Wish You Were Here, vocalist and guitarist Zachary Throne said, “That was Wish You Were Here… in its entirety…” with a comical shake of his head and a look that signified both disbelief and amusement. PFX launched into a nonstop list of popular Floyd songs from a variety of albums afterward. They began with “Time” and “Money” from The Dark Side of the Moon (1973).

Other spectacular performances included “Sorrow” and “Learning to Fly” from A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and an early favorite, done in memoriam of deceased band members Syd Barrett and Richard Wright, “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” from A Saucerful of Secrets (1968).

The Pink Floyd Experience is the perfect cover band. They strive to provide the Floyd fan with an evening of his or her favorite music. They immersed us in “Welcome to the Machine” and “Have a Cigar” from Wish You Were Here, songs that are entirely about atmosphere, and took us to the amazing (albeit somewhat dystopian) world that the music creates.


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