Just Floyd– Australian Pink Floyd Tribute – The Gov -Friday 10 May 2019
Words Geoff Jenke
The life of playing in a tribute band must be hard. You are only playing to a select audience who love the band/artist you are covering. You then have to “nail” the songs to the audience satisfaction, leaving little room to make the songs your own.
Just Floyd are Adelaide based, showcasing the music of Pink Floyd. They go all out, with circular video screen, lasers, an amazing light show and a high-quality sound system, showing they are dedicated to the band.
I guess I need to declare at this stage I am a massive Pink Floyd fan, but not a particular fan of tribute bands. I have seen some good ones and some ordinary ones, but do have to admit they have their place on the scene, especially for bands like Pink Floyd, who we will never see. Yes, Roger Waters and David Gilmour are touring (and so recently, is Dave Mason) and their set list is mostly Floyd numbers. So, does that then make them tribute bands as well? I guess so.
First up my main issue about this night was the song selection. This is not being critical of the performance of the songs played, but rather the choice of songs. Using Dark Side of the Moon as a base, Floyd released seven albums before Dark Side and seven albums after. Tonight, we got one song pre-Dark Side of the Moon. There is an argument amongst Floyd fans that while Floyd’s more popular songs were released from DSOM onwards, the better songs were pre DSOM. Tonight, would have been a dedicated Floyd fan base in attendance so it was extremely disappointing the band weren’t more adventurous in the song choice. Where was Arnold Layne, See Emily Play, Set the Controls, If, Echoes(Pt 1 would have made a great set opener), Astronomy Domineand others. And don’t start me on the total ignoring of the post DSOMalbum Animals. What a travesty, when 30% of the set (not including the DSOMtracks) were from the Division Belland Momentary Lapse of Reasonalbums, both sans Roger Waters and both basically David Gilmour solo outings. Instead we got the “safe mode” selection, basically the Pulse live album with a few extra’s. OK rant over.
The stage set up was quite outstanding. Just Floyd were no going to be doing this half arsed. The sound was loud and clear and the light show stunning, with the band working videos in with the songs. They opened withShine Onfrom Wish You Were Herealbum. Is this the worlds most boring song ever? Even David Gilmour has said he has a little sleep while playing it in automatic mode. As I said above, starting with Echoeswould have been brilliant. Have a Cigar bought the audience alive with great guitar work and good vocals from Mark on keyboards.
After a few tracks from Floyd’s later albums, we got a mini Wall excerpt and this is where the band really shone. In the Flesh / Another Brick in the Wall / Young Lust / Hey You and Mother was a really great selection of songs. The brashness of In the Flesh to the lighter but powerful moments of Hey You andMother really showed what the band were capable of. In fact, I consider Hey You and Mother as some of the best tracks of the night. My only complaint is the gap between the songs, they should have eased into one another. Interestingly, the only pre-DSOMtrack, One of These Daysprobably got the loudest cheer for the night and deservedly so. It was disturbingly powerful and excellent.
After a break the band were back with the entire Dark Side of the Moon, a real challenge for any band. However, Just Floyd managed to conquer this challenge. I was impressed with their take of On the Runand Cathy Elsmore’s vocal was intense on The Great Gig in the Sky, so much so I would probably have to rate it as one of the best cover versions of the song I have ever heard and that includes Roger Waters version from last year.
Once again, my only issue with doing something like DSOM, is the album is “one long song” and there should not be any gaps in between songs. The band tended to stop between each song and then nothing happens for a few minutes as they organise the next song. By the time they start again, the crowd had started checking their phones or talking. Small issue, but it meant the show didn’t flow.
Us and Them / Any Colour You Likeare my favourite tracks on the album and with Richard Squires (complete with moon boot and having to sit on the side of the stage to play) on sax, was astonishing. There is nothing like a bit of sax in music.
After the high’s of DSOM, the band again fell back to two later Floyd songs, and not great ones either, in Take it Back and Coming Back to Life. At this stage we should have got something sensational. It did eventually come in Wish You Were Here and of course Comfortably Numb (in this scribes’ eyes, the greatest rock n roll song ever). There was only ever going to be one song scripted to finish the night (yes, I had seen The Pulse DVD and Roger Waters live) and that is Run Like Hell. A fine way to end the evening.
The question remains, have this tribute band won me over? The answer is not simple. They are very good but the night ebbed and flowed, had highs and lows and in the end it was the song choice that leads me to say no. I wouldn’t hurry back unless I saw the words “playing the history of Pink Floyd, from 1965 onwards” or “performing live, the entire Animals album”.
They are competently capable of doing both.