Gig preview: The Australian Pink Floyd Show at First Direct Arena, Leeds

The Australian Pink Floyd Show

The Australian Pink Floyd Show

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THOSE expert Antipodean purveyors of excellent Pink Floyd music – The Australian Pink Floyd Show – are undertaking their annual tour of Britain.

This year’s tour is entitled ‘Welcome to the Machine’ which alludes to a track off their follow-up album to Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

In the past, the Aussie tribute band has performed the Floyd’s 1973 magnum opus in its entirety, and this time, it’s the turn of Wish You Were Here.

This particular album is famous for containing the track Shine On You Crazy Diamond, which was Floyd’s tribute to their founder Syd Barrett.

On release in 1975, Wish You Were Here shot straight to the top of the UK Album chart (something that Dark Side… didn’t quite manage).

Some people at the time though, thought the album was only successful on the coattails of its predecessor, but Jason Sawford, the founder member and keyboard maestro of the Aussie band (TAPFS for short), doesn’t think that at all.

“I personally think it’s a great album,” he says.

“Obviously Dark Side… is Pink Floyd’s absolute masterpiece, Wish… comes a close second.”

He laughs. “For one thing, it’s got some great keyboards.”

The Melbourne-born musician adds: “There’s a certain coherence to the whole album and has a very original opening and of course the lyrical content features madness – a common theme with Pink Floyd – and the music industry.”

With the 40th anniversary, I wondered whether TAPFS will be performing the whole of the album.

“Yes we are, as well as drawing heavily from Dark Side… and The Division Bell. We’ll also be touching on The Wall as well.”

And there are a few surprises.

“We may be doing a number in tribute to Syd Barrett, probably Astromony Domine as it works very well in the set; and we may have a go at one of the songs from Endless River (Pink Floyd’s last album, released in 2014).”

As well as faithfully recreating the sound of Pink Floyd – so much so that Floyd’s drummer Nick Mason has gone on record saying that the Aussie outfit are probably better than Floyd ever was – the show boasts some of the best visuals in the business; including films, lasers and inflatables.

“We have some new animations, produced especially for the show and we’ve updated all the visual aspects.”

Performing note-perfect recreations of known songs can be difficult, as Sawford explains.

“I’ve got to programme all the correct sounds into the keyboards and while I’ve done a lot of it in the past, it can still take weeks to do.

“We have to create the exact sounds and it sometimes depends on the piece of equipment we’re using.”

But is the band ever tempted to do a song a different way?

“Well, the music is always faithful to the albums, but Floyd used to improvise early on and we listen to all the various versions and we do make it sound like Floyd improvising, and not like another band.

“Finally, you have to have a certain mindset. For this music you have to be focused and disciplined – it’s very much like being a classical musician.”

The band’s line-up has been pretty stable for some time.

“We’re a band that gets a lot of work and every working musician likes that. Plus you get a chemistry and we try to retain the unity.”

The band has been performing the music of Pink Floyd for nearly 30 years now, does Sawford still enjoy the job?

“Well, it is a job and I’m no longer a young man, but I still enjoy playing and of course it’s great music to play – and there’s the audience reaction which is always great.”

And there could be more to come.

“There’s loads more I’d like to do from the Floyd catalogue,” admits Sawford.

“The Obscured By Clouds album has some lovely songs. There’s a lot of scope.”

The Australian Pink Floyd Show will be celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Wish you Were Here and other Pink Floyd classics at the First Direct Arena, Leeds on Friday March 13. Tickets are priced at £28.50-£39.50 (subject to a booking fee).

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