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Tribute bands are a funny thing. With no attempt at originality expected, they are free to hone their craft by aping, as closely as possible, the band from which they draw inspiration. By this standard, The Australian Pink Floyd Show (hereafter “Aussie Floyd”) are a top-notch act, nailing all the important stuff for Pink Floyd fans: the visuals, the spacy keyboards, that singular guitar tone. The only place they miss the mark slightly is in the vocals: their vocalist singing Roger Waters’ parts doesn’t quite have that same nasal, silghtly maniacal tone.
Aussie Floyd played the Warner Theatre on Sunday night, complete with elaborate stage show, lasers, backing dancers/vocalists… the works. They played The Wall in its entirety and then a lengthy “greatest hits” encore. I used to be an embarrassingly dedicated Pink Floyd fanboy, but The Wall has never been my favorite of theirs. (When Aussie Floyd played last year at the Strathmore, my favorite part was when they broke out “Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun.”) Still, it was hard not to be engaged by this kind of theatrical performance, especially for someone like me more used to small shows at grungy clubs.
Sure enough, the audience—-my completely unscientific sampling of the die-hards in the front row indicated a mix of fans who have seen “the real thing” multiple times and younger types who just missed Pink Floyd’s last tour in 1994—-ate it up. “Comfortably Numb,” with a guitar solo worthy of those that David Gilmour used to rattle off regularly, earned a raucous standing ovation. “Run Like Hell,” accompanied by a seizure-inducing barrage of lasers and strobes, induced an epidemic of testosterone-filled fist-pumping. But perhaps most poignantly, the encore included a moving rendition of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” which seemed especially appropriate given the recent passing of Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright.