The Pink Floyd Experience at Comerica Theatre Last Night

The Pink Floyd Experience

Comerica Theatre
March 26, 2011

It used to be that tribute acts were typically seen in casino showrooms. Lately, it seems that if you're a good enough tribute act, you can bring in good audiences at  concert halls. Already this year we've seen a orchestral version of Led Zeppelin at Comerica Theatre, a venue that hosts such big-name acts as Ozzy Osbourne, Arcade Fire, and Janet Jackson. Last night saw another tribute act, The Pink Floyd Experience, bring in another decent-size crowd to Comerica.

Of course, being in a tribute band is no easy task. For starters, you're stuck playing the same songs day in and day out. And inevitably you're going to be compared to how you stack up to the original. So how does The Pink Floyd Experience -- PFX for short -- compare to the real deal? Surprisingly well.

The San Diego-based tribute act started off their performance by playing Pink Floyd's 1977 album Animals in full.  This was a bit of a surprise, actually. Animals is definitely one of Pink Floyd's better albums but not necessarily one of their more accessible works,like The Wall or Dark Side of the Moon, nor does it have as many instantly recognizable songs. And considering that the album is made up of three songs over 10 minutes and two songs under two minutes, it can be a little challenging to people with short attention spans.

One of the first things you notice about The Pink Floyd Experience is how lead vocalist Howard Pattow sounds nothing like Roger Waters. But, to be honest, he wasn't really trying to. Whereas most singers in tribute bands do their best to imitate the person they are paying tribute to Pattow wasn't. From a technical standpoint, though, the musicianship in the group was spot-on. Particularly the guitar playing of band leader Tom Quinn, who did a fantastic job of capturing the sound of David Gilmour.  

Following a short intermission the band returned to the stage where they played some of Pink Floyd's bigger hits from a good cross section of their albums. Songs like "Learning To Fly," "Have a Cigar," and "Time" earned the biggest reaction from the crowd up to that point. A good portion of the second half of their show was dedicated to songs from Dark Side Of The Moon.

In addition to capturing the sound of Pink Floyd, the PFX also did a nice job of recreating some of the theatrics that Pink Floyd was known for. While not quite as big a production as when Roger Waters played The Wall in its entirety at US Airways Center earlier this year it did feature the requisite light show, trippy videos being projected on a screen behind the band and plenty of on stage references to previous Floyd records. Like a man who walked on stage in a light bulb suit similar to that of the album cover of Delicate Sound of Thunder and there was also a remote controlled inflatable pink pig that floated over the audience.  

The PFX closed out their set by playing several songs from The Wall including "Comfortably Numb" and "Run Like Hell."  They even managed to have a sing along with the audience on the band's final song of the night "Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2."

Considering the rocky relationship that Roger Waters and David Gilmour have had over the years there is a pretty good chance that we may never see a full on reunion of Pink Floyd.  Then again, weirder things have happened.  But just in case we don't get a Pink Floyd reunion you could do a lot worse than catching The Pink Floyd Experience. There really isn't substitute for the real thing but this was pretty damn close. Definitely a great show where the fans got their moneys worth -- and they didn't even have to walk past a long line of slot machines on their way to the car.

Set List:

"Pigs On The Wing, Part 1"
"Pigs (Three Different Ones)"
"Pigs On The Wing, Part 2"
"Learning to Fly"
"Have a Cigar"
"Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Part 1"
"Let There Be More Light"
"Any Colour You like"
"Brain Damage/Eclipse"
"Comfortably Numb"
"Run Like Hell"
"Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2"

Critics Notebook:

Last Night: The Pink Floyd Experience

Personal Bias: I'm a huge Pink Floyd fan. Regrettably, I missed Roger Waters when he was at US Airways Center.

The Crowd: I was expecting an older crowd, but it was surprisingly mixed between older fans and younger ones.  

Overheard In The Crowd:  "I didn't even take a hit." This person and I must have been the only people who didn't last night. There were definitely quite a few early adopters of medical marijuana in the crowd last night.

Random Notebook Dump:  The flying inflatable pig was pretty awesome.

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Mike Escoto