The Australian Pink Floyd Show
Wednesday, 29th April 2009
London Wembley Arena, London, The UK
Article By Kevin Murphy
It was only a matter of time before The Australian Pink Floyd Show would tackle The Wall live show.
If any band could pull it of, then surely it would be the best Pink Floyd tribute band in the business and,
with this year being the 30th anniversary of the original album, it seems like the perfect time to do so.
It's a huge project to take on and we're all aware of just how spectacular Floyd's live take on the album was.
How then would TAPFS handle the recreation of one of the most ambitious live shows ever staged?
Surely their budget wouldn't stretch to actually building a wall in front of the stage as Floyd did all those years ago.
Well, obviously no.
The wall itself is built on a gigantic screen behind the band, and while not as spectacular as real bricks and mortar (or polystyrene, as was the case)
it still looks fantastic and is a very clever way of handling this aspect of the show.
But that's jumping ahead a bit.
Before any bricks are in place, a lone clarinet player takes to the stage and opens the show with the melody from Outside the Wall as heard at the beginning of the album.
In a very clever Aussie-related twist (one of several throughout the show) the piece segues into Waltzing Matilda before the band blasts in with the opening riff of In the Flesh.
But immediately there is a disconcerting aspect, and it doesn't take too long to realise what it is.
The band has taken on a lead vocalist and it simply doesn't look right.
On previous occasions that I've witnessed TAPFS, the bass player handled the Roger Waters vocals, but this time out there is an actual front man.
Nothing wrong with the guy: he has a great voice and sounds very like Waters at times and I'm aware that Waters spent quite a bit of the original show without his bass guitar,
but this guy's stage presence and hand gestures suggest that he's from a stage musical background, and it gives the show a kind of West End feel at times.
That small gripe aside, there is very little wrong with the show.
The band members are all terrific musicians and singers and are well able to handle the music.
Basing the show on the live as opposed to studio version ensures that we get the full rendition of Empty Spaces as well as The Last Few Bricks and extended versions of several songs.
All the while, various scenes from Pink's life are played out on the giant screen: his father's death in the war, Pink in his mother's arms, the school teacher,
along with animations based on those in the movie.
We also see Pink in his hotel room flicking through the TV channels and in another clever Aussie twist all the channels are showing Australian shows: Neighbours, Sons & Daughters, Paul Hogan and others.
For the second half of the show, the wall is complete and the projections continue to play out Pink's isolation behind the wall and his descent and re-emergence as a kind of fascist megalomania.
Is There Anybody Out There? is beautifully played and Comfortably Numb, as always, is simply mind blowing.
It all climaxes spectacularly with the Trial sequence and subsequent tearing down of the wall.
The noise is deafening at this point and one can only wonder how loud it was at those original Pink Floyd shows.
All the band members, including backing vocalists gather at the front of the stage for Outside the Wall.
I've always found this to be a sad yet forward-looking piece and the live version is even more so.
The band return for a mini 'greatest hits' encore which includes a poignant Great Gig in the Sky,
the projections of various clips of Richard Wright bringing forth a huge round of applause and, I'm sure, many a tear also.
The Wall is a very ambitious piece, both visually and musically and TAPFS deserve a lot of credit for taking it on.
It's a hugely enjoyable experience and one I would recommend to anybody, like myself, who wasn't lucky enough to witness Floyd themselves perform the show.
The Wall album in its entirety
Shine on You Crazy Diamond
The Great Gig in the Sky
Wish You Were Here
The Australian Pink Floyd Show Official Website
The Australian Pink Floyd Show Myspace
London Wembley Arena