Saturday 25th June 2016
The chance to see Pink Floyd live in concert has long passed us by with the death of Richard Wright and the acrimony between Roger Waters and David Gilmour, so what do we do? It is important to me that my children and their partners are introduced to exceptional music from yesteryear so with that in mind, I book 10 tickets to see The Pink Floyd Experience performing Pulse and encourage my siblings to attend which they all dutifully do with partners in tow.
The Pink Floyd Experience are a New Zealand based tribute band from Wellington and they have been perfecting their craft for many years. I recall seeing them in concert as early as 2003 so they have had plenty of time to get it right, and get it right they do.
This tour is a big one with a full reproduction of the “Pulse” album” including all the visual aesthetics you would expect. Martin Mitchell (guitarist) explains. “To recreate Pink Floyd you need to construct 3 parts. The sound, the visual and the theatre. To replicate the music is simply not good enough and to do 2 of the 3 components does not give the audience the true complete picture of what a Pink Floyd show was all about.”
I say to Martin “When you close your eyes it is as close to Pink Floyd perfection as you can get” to which he replies “Please open your eyes as we have spent nearly $1million on this tour on lighting, props and visual effects”. The attention to detail is exceptional even down to Martin playing several David Gilmour signature guitars modified to sound just like him.
Obviously the doubters are there and I speak to many people on the night that say the same thing to me; ‘When I close my eyes, it sounds like Pink Floyd”. This is made possible by the exceptional vocals of Stan Gratkowski, accompanied by 2 superb guitarists in Martin Mitchell and Darren Whittaker (lead guitar) and a great band with Ken Te Tau (bass), Glen Ahearn (keyboards), Jeremy Fitzsimons (percussion), Rob Ju (drums) and Roger Rangitaawa (Sax), all scholars in their attention to detail perfecting their various crafts. My children have spent their entire lives imbibed in the music that is Pink Floyd so for them to pass a favorable judgement on tonight’s performance is praise indeed for I consider them to also be Pink Floyd connoisseurs.
The show opens with “Shine on you crazy Diamond” and it dawns on me that a show of this caliber must take it’s mental toll on the 2 guitarists, for the level of concentration for two and a half hours is intense. Martin Mitchell explains “We give it everything we’ve got and at the end of the show I am exhausted”. It is not hard to see why. I love the long songs and cannot understand why songs like “Echoes” on the previous tour are not met with thunderous applause. Pink Floyd is so much more than “Another Brick in the wall”.
The 1st set encompasses “Sorrow” which is a standout, "High Hopes" (a personal favorite) and other familiar songs that were staples of 70’s radio back in the day.
The 2nd set is largely “Dark side of the Moon” with a breathtaking performance from the 3 female vocalists Bella Kalolo, Wini Baxter and Kirsten Te Rito of ‘Great Gig in the Sky”. This spine tingling vocal performance is a definite highlight of the show.
"Comfortably Numb" has always been a crowd favorite and for me is the litmus test of whether or not the tribute band is close to the mark. I have seen many Pink Floyd tribute shows but none that match the genuine quality that is The Pink Floyd Experience. Darren Whittaker – take a bow, for tonight’s rendition of Comfortably Numb is mind blowing. I am swept away in the emotion and euphoria that this song creates and you take me there to that place that is Pink Floyd. I am not alone, for the standing ovation at the end of this song is one of the longest that I can remember. As I look around, the entire Enmore Theatre crowd are on their feet clapping and cheering wildly for this has been some performance.
We are so blessed that a group of like-minded souls come together to share such a joyous occasion with us and as we leave the venue, we are all happy in the knowledge that The Pink Floyd Experience will be back in 2017. Thanks for a great night out. That was as spectacular as I envisaged.
see more photos here