Once upon a time, 2 poor students took the coach from Edinburgh to London, stayed at the Earl’s Court Youth Hostel and walked round the corner to see Pink Floyd play. This was the Division Bell tour. Pink Floyd played a 3 hour set, covering many of our favourites (and the somewhat weird Astronomy Domine, which I’ve never been able to wrap my head around). That night was amazing.
Fast-forward to 2013 and MacFloyd’s visit to Lerwick… These guys played a full set themselves, again hitting all the right notes in the right order and finishing off with a complete run-through of The Dark Side of the Moon. Fitting, as it was the 40th anniversary of that album.
Fast-forward to now, then rewind to last week. I know, confusing, but it kinda makes sense. My eldest is playing Prospero in the Shakespear for Schools festival. She’s on at the Key Theatre in Peterborough in October and we needed to book tickets. First thing I see on the site is Think Floyd, playing on Sunday night. And there are still a couple of tickets available.
*Yoink*. Not any more, there aren’t, they’re mine.
A word about the venue. Simply put, it’s a superb place to see live music. No pillars to get in the way, no obstructed view of the stage, no peeking around the head of the tall bloke in front. The auditorium is banked perfectly, the acoustics pretty damn good. Whichever committee designed that building, they knew what they were doing.
So, there we were in row J. And there were lasers, strobe lights, multicoloured lights panning around the auditorium. At first glance, the line up appeared to be Prof Brian Cox (vocals, bass and occasional acoustic guitar), James May (keyboard), Phillip Schofield (drums) and Mickey Flannagan (vocals, lead and slide guitars), all ably assisted by Suzi Perry on backing vocals.
From half-seven to gone ten, we were given tracks spanning the whole of Floyd’s discography. From the early years of Syd Barrett (See Emily Play) up to one of my absolute favourite tracks, High Hopes (from The Division Bell). Swathes of Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here were delivered with incredible skill and attention to detail, the differences in musical style between early and late Floyd coming across beautifully.
An unexpected pleasure was the chunk of Animals, reminding me that that’s a CD I don’t listen to enough. It’s all-too-often forgotten about, falling in the gap between Wish You Were Here and Momentary Lapse of Reason.
Given the huge range of material to cover, the set was carefully chosen and covered most of the classic albums. We didn’t get anything from The Final Cut, nor from Momentary Lapse of Reason. Instead we got tracks from Live at the BBC, and Piper at the Gates of Dawn. I would’ve liked to hear them do Sorrow, or A Great Day for Freedom, but that’ll have to wait until they return next year.
The crucial question is: “How do they compare to MacFloyd?”
Damn hard to judge, that one. On the night, I reckon Think Floyd edged it. Just. But then it’d probably fall the other way if I were writing this post after coming out of a MacFloyd gig. They each approach the material with the same dedication, the same attention to detail. Honestly, if you get the chance, go and see either or both of them.
The final touch, the cherry on top, was coming out of the auditorium to find the band waiting – having bounded off-stage only seconds before, just after finishing a masterclass in Comfortably Numb as their encore – and ready to sell their merchandise and chat to their audience. And a more friendly, happy or cheerful bunch of musicians you’d be hard-pressed to find. Did I get a photo with them? No, for I am a muppet.
Same time, next year, guys?