Music

Lights, Lasers, Inflatables: Brit Floyd Comes to Town

One-on-one with the musical director of one of the world's biggest Pink Floyd tribute bands

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Pink Floyd tribute band Brit Floyd is bringing their special effects laden show to the VETS on Sunday March 30. We had a chance for a fast Q&A with the band's musical director and guitarist, Damian Darlington.

You've just begun your American tour of 70 shows in four months. Is there a developing energy where each show builds on itself? How many concerts does it take before you feel like everything is working perfectly?
Definitely. There's a momentum buildup during the tour. There's inevitably a few things that get ironed out, and then everything slips into place fairly quickly. We've got such a good group of musicians in Brit Floyd, and the crew helping us out. It settles down to a well oiled – and well performing – machine, as it were.

Having watched the opening ceremony in Sochi with its high tech projections, floating objects and psychedelic qualities, I couldn't help but think of Pink Floyd live shows. Are you finding that more bands, and even sports entertainment, are borrowing from Floyd-esque special effects?
Well, definitely. Pink Floyd was extremely pioneering with the things they did back in the day. They did things on stage nobody else had done before, whether it's bands or the sort of events you just mentioned, like Olympic opening ceremonies. They all owe something to the things Pink Floyd did 40, 30, 20 years ago. There have been many people inspired by the work Pink Floyd did over the years.

I've read that it is really important to you for a concert goer to get the full "Floyd Experience." Can you explain exactly what that is, or is it more a spiritual quality that can't be defined?
There are practical things, ingredients that help make a show feel like the genuine Pink Floyd experience – the stuff we just mentioned about the cutting edge projections, lights and lasers and the videos. I suppose there is a sort of spiritual aspect to it as well, which comes out in the relationship between the music and the visuals, the interplay between these two things.

When everything is going well during a show and you are playing one of your favorite numbers, like "Comfortably Numb" or "Us and Them," what does it feel like? Does it approach a religious experience? And is there one show that you remember that was the pinnacle for reaching that kind of moment?
It's difficult to pinpoint one show – I've probably played something in the region of 2,000 Pink Floyd shows. It's quite difficult to pick one moment out from one performance of "Comfortably Numb." I wouldn't go so far as to compare it to a religious experience, but it's certainly quite profound music. There is something more to it, a depth to the meaning there. It's music you take a little more seriously, moving you in ways that perhaps other music doesn't.

What is the one unperformed Pink Floyd gem that you wish could be in the shows, that obscure favorite that doesn't get airtime for Brit Foyd?
Picking one out of the air, a song I've never performed that I'd love to, is the title track to the Final Cut album – the track itself, "Final Cut." I hope we'll get that in the set sometime later this year. It's certainly something Pink Floyd themselves never performed live, and I don't think Roger Waters performed it as a solo artist. I'd love to play that at some point in the near future.

There are many tribute bands out there, but very few have ascended to the level of Brit Floyd, playing the types of large venues that you have done. Did you ever expect the band to reach this kind of popularity? And where do you go from here?
No, I never really expected it. I've been doing this for quite a long time now, 20 years. When I first started doing this, tribute bands were a very new thing. I didn't have any notion that it could get quite as big as it has, and to be able to tour around the world and play at all these iconic venues that I get the opportunity to play at. I never dreamt it would get to this stage. Where does it go from here? It's difficult to say. I'm not quite sure we'll ever play in football stadiums or things like that. It certainly has room to grow some more from where it's at the moment.

And what about playing at Pompeii, like Floyd did in '72?
[laughing] No, I don't think you'd be allowed to in this day and age. They're a lot more careful of these world heritage sites compared to back in the early '70s when they let Pink Floyd perform. But yeah, that would be an amazing experience if we ever get that chance to recreate that concert.