Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"Which one's Pink?"

When Pink Floyd played Hamilton's Civic Stadium (now Ivor Wynn, and soon to be replaced by the PanAm Stadium) my grandmother (Nana) asked me, "Are you going to see Purple Harold?" I laughed, and replied that living as close to the stadium as we did...we didn't need to buy a ticket. Sure enough, we could hear Purple...err...Pink Floyd quite well until the wind changed. On Friday night at Hugh's Room in Toronto the wind changed a few times as a diverse group of Ontario musicians came together for The Great Gig in the Sky. This was another of Michael Wrycraft's tribute shows. He does about 5 of them a year. So far I've seen a Beatles show, Randy Newman, and last year's Tom Waits tribute and they've all had fine music, community spirit and lots of fun. That's how music should be.
Sure there are songs which don't sound like much fun. Roger Waters has written more than his share of them! The Final Cut album is full of them! No laughs there! Paul Neufeld & Denis Keldie (on keyboards and accordion) sure made that clear. Their versions of 2 songs from that album provided the emotional downturn. Don't get me wrong, they sounded dandy, it's just that the songs are such downers. The rest of the acts chose from Floyd albums Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall. Wrycraft advised to stay with the hits, he "[didn't] care about Syd Barrett anyway!" [And there I was wondering who would do "Bike" or "Arnold Layne".] The songs that worked best were the hits, "Have a Cigar", "Money" and "Wish You Were Here" all done very differently than Roger, Dave, Nick and Richard did 'em, but all keeping the melody and treating them with respect. The love this group of musicians showed for the songs of Pink Floyd was incredible. When Retrocity began the night with vocalese versions which included percussion and guitar solos I wondered how anyone would top them. Every time another act stepped onto the stage, the same thought ran through my mind, and yet, each one was just as mind-blowing as the last. The loopers were extraordinary, although David Celia had some trouble with the lyrics, his construction of Pink Floyd's audio wash was amazing. Jean-Paul deRoover added a roomful of new fans with his energetic set. Michael Occhipinti and Elizabeth Shepherd, Andrea Koziol, the remnants of LAL (essentially Ian deSouza on bass) and Dominic Mancuso all provided stunning renditions of Floyd classics. If I'd had a pen with me I could've credited each performer with the correct songs but I was so entranced by the concept, and the incredible music that I can only say, everyone played beautifully, and all the favourites were covered (except maybe for "Bike" and "Arnold Layne"). An extraordinary evening topped off by a stage full of tired singers and players rambling through "Another Brick In the Wall", "Hey...teacher...leave those kids alone!" Thanks Michael...just remember though...some of us like Syd Barrett!

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