Preview by Joshua Maloni
Sometimes a number is so large that it becomes ethereal or incomprehensible. So, to understand how many copies of Pink Floyd’s March 1973 release, “The Dark Side of the Moon,” have sold to date, consider this: If every man, woman and child in the state of New York bought two copies, it still wouldn’t equal the musical masterpiece’s sales.
An astounding 50 million copies of “The Dark Side of the Moon” have made their way into the hands (and record players) of fans around the world. The album has spent a mind-melting 962 weeks on the Billboard charts.
What makes this music so special?
The Australian Pink Floyd Show will seek to answer that question when it performs “The Dark Side of the Moon” in its entirety at Artpark in Lewiston. Tickets are now on sale for the concert event, which begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 28.
In a press release, the band’s team stated, “After celebrating 35-plus years of playing Pink Floyd music around the world, The Australian Pink Floyd Show returns with a new tour for 2023, beginning the next chapter in their incredible story. …
“ ‘The Dark Side of the Moon Tour’ will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s eighth studio album and bring to the stage the songs that mean so much to Pink Floyd fans all over the world. State-of-the-art lighting and video, pinpoint lasers, gargantuan inflatables, and flawless live sound that was the benchmark of Pink Floyd shows, TAPFS guarantees to deliver a memorable live experience.”
Lead singer Chris Barnes said TAPFS is no ordinary cover band or pub performer. This is, after all, a group that was invited to perform at David Gilmour’s 50th birthday party.
“That says everything, really, doesn't it, if you get booked to play at the birthday party of the guy who is in the band that you're doing a tribute to,” Barnes said.
“And I think also, it's not two blokes with wigs. It's very serious,” he explained. “The music requires a huge amount of concentration and, also, it's an honor to play this music. And everyone involved in the band, and the crew, treat the music with such respect. That's the reason why the band is as big as it is, and why it's been going on – it's 35 years old this year. …
“They've worked very, very hard at it for such a long time.”
Barnes shared more in a recent phone interview. An edited Q&A follows.
Q: What is it about Pink Floyd that resonates with you in the way it does?
Chris Barnes: Well, I've been aware of Pink Floyd’s music since I was about 5 or 6. My brother and I used to share a bedroom, and a cousin lent us an LP called “Relics,” which is all the sort of early Syd Barrett psychedelic stuff. And I was aware of that and really enjoyed “Arnold Layne” and “See Emily Play” and stuff. And then I saw the Pompeii concert and thought, “Well, first of, where's ‘Arnold Layne’ and where’s ‘See Emily Play?’ ” But really enjoyed this kind of space rock stuff they were doing.
And now I heard “Dark Side of the Moon.” I must have been about 16. Something like that. 17. And it just clicked – everything just clicked. And I think, even though Floyd fall into the progressive rock category, they're not your typical – no one's wearing capes, and there's not 100-mile-an-hour keyboard solos with a million notes. They're very different from, say, Yes, or Genesis, or Jethro Tull, or Gentle Giant, or anyone like that. Floyd are kind of a universal band in some ways, because they cover so many different genres – from the sort of psychedelic pop stuff; the space rock stuff; the big, progressive albums of the ’70s: “Darkside,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Animals, “The Wall.”
And then later, when Roger (Waters) left, and it was David Gilmour running the band. That's when they kind of exploded as a stadium band in the ’80s, and I guess a whole new generation of people discovered them at that point.
There's multiple chapters to the Floyd story, and I think it is accessible music. I know some of the songs are quite long, and there’s long instrumental passages where maybe not a lot happens. And in this generation we have now of scrolling through – “No, I don't like that,” scroll next. “Oh, I don't like that.” It is nice to see so many young people in the audience, because I think Floyd is a multigenerational band. We see kids as young as, well, I mean, God, my kids were, the youngest was about 4 when she came to see us, in the first gig that she could get to. To people who saw the real band back in the day, you know, back in the ’70s, or even the ’60s.
It's fantastic. It's music that does appeal to a wide range of people.
Q: It's interesting with what you do because, on one hand, you are a talented musician in your own right, certainly. You have history and background in this field. You also are trying to have an accurate representation of this iconic band. How do you merge those two worlds where you can show your musicality and your talents while also staying true to Pink Floyd?
Chris Barnes: Well, I think the band’s sort of ethos is it's not about the individual, as such. It's not, “Hey, listen to me, I'm a great singer,” or “Hey, I'm a brilliant drummer” or great guitar player. It's about playing that music as respectfully as possible, or singing those words as accurately as possible – making your voice sound a certain way. When you're singing in harmony, I'm the guy in the middle. I sing the bulk of the set. But Ricky, the bass player, sings a lot of stuff; and Dave, the guitarist, sings quite a bit of stuff; and the three of us harmonize in various parts of the set.
You've got to make sure that the right man is doing the right job. And I think, as much as everybody does other things outside of the band, when we come together as a unit, all those things are left off the stage. What's important at that point is playing this music respectfully, and it's not about, “Hey, look at me; I'm amazing.” It's not about that. It's about playing this music with respect. It is an honor to play this music.
To join a band that's as established as it is, you wouldn't want to walk in and mess things up by saying, “Hey, why don't we do this? I'm gonna get a zip wire and fly into the crowd like Paul Stanley in KISS.” We’re not going to do anything like that, because it's so un-Floyd.
So, the aspects of this show do the talking in some ways, because there's also the lights, the video screen, the circle screen with all the videos on, there’s lasers, there’s inflatables, there's all the bells and whistles you would expect from a Floyd show. And then, therefore, the band are almost invisible in some ways.
So, therefore, I know what you mean about we're likely talented people who like to express ourselves. But we sort of get our kicks outside of the band, if you like, and when we come together as a unit, that's what we're there for. It's not about, “I can play a million notes,” or “I can sing this.”
Q: You are going to be paying special tribute to “The Dark Side of the Moon.” Tell me a little bit about the live show.
Chris Barnes: Well, the trick to what we're trying to do this year, obviously, “Dark Side” is the centerpiece of the evening. And you're getting the full – as you guys say – you’re getting the album front to back. You get the full album, played as like the album. There's no extended sections or anything like that. It's just, “This is the album.” So, if people remember the album, it's going to be a live representation of that.
Other eras of Floyd are obviously covered. Like I said before, the Syd Barrett stuff. We always try and stick a Syd Barrett song in there. And songs from the pre-“Darkside” era. We do touch on that era. And as I said earlier, there's all the other albums. You've got to do music from “Wish You Were Here.” You've got to play “Shine On” and the title track, “Wish You Were Here.” You better play a song from “Animals” and, obviously, you've got to do some music from “The Wall,” because that's, I think, their second-most successful album. And then, obviously, you’ve got to cover the post-Roger era from “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” album and “The Division Bell” album. So, you've kind of got to cover from 1967 to 1994 in an evening, in a way that's entertaining.
As I said earlier, there's inflatables, and there's lasers and light shows all choreographed with the music, and it's all on the video screen. There's videos. So, there's always something to watch.
If someone's never seen a Floyd show, and their friend’s taking them along, saying, “Come watch this band, because they give you a Floyd Pink Floyd concert,” there's not going to be a moment when you're going to go, “I'm just going to go to the bar,” because there's always something happening on stage. You know, like I say, whether it's a video on the screen, or the light show certainly captures you, right up to the music. If you know Pink Floyd’s music, you're in for a really good night.
Q: This was such an iconic band; such an incredible catalog of songs that they put together. But for younger fans who didn't grow up with them, who are learning about them now, you could say “here today, gone tomorrow.” Certainly, the band didn't have an end that I'm sure it envisioned or hoped for, and it's too bad that they're not touring today.
The fact that they are not touring – that it came apart sort of the way it did after making those iconic songs, do you think that that adds to the mystique of this band? Do you think that puts this band in a different place, where it makes people more curious about Pink Floyd’s music and backstory?
Chris Barnes: Yeah, I would agree with that. Yeah.
I think, like you say, Floyd, it all kinds of stops when Richard Wright died back in 2008. And I think David Gilmour said they wouldn't reform Floyd to tour as an act without Richard, because that would be disrespectful. I think he referred to him as his brother, his musical brother. And obviously, he, Roger and David have got their differences, and Roger’s out touring.
I went to see him recently in Manchester, at the arena there, and his show is not a Floyd show. It's a Roger Waters show. You know, there's Floyd music in it, but it's not presented in a Floydy-style way.
And I saw Nick Mason do the “Saucerful of Secrets Tour” the previous year, and that's not a Floyd show. That’s a Nick Mason show put on in a different style.
I just think that, Floyd’s music, if you see like the Beatles as like the untouchable band at the top of the tree, and then you’ve got your Zeppelins, and all these other big bands, Floyd are kind of in their own category, really, because their music style, you can't just say, “Oh, it's a rock band,” or “Oh, it’s a psychedelic band,” because their music is so vast, and so different, and so wide-reaching.
And once Roger got a hold of the lyrics, “Dark Side” onwards, once Roger sort of got the bit between his teeth and he had something to say, then the lyrics really speak to people.
I have an 18-year-old daughter, and a lot of her friends at college are into Pink Floyd; and they've discovered and listen to what the lyrics are about on “Dark Side.” It does resonate to anybody, at any age. I mean, I could say it's 50 years ago, but everything still sort of rings true. Alight, so references to a Learjet – people might not know what that is. But the “Us And Them” lyrics, for instance, when it’s “without and who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about?” That just speaks volumes to the state of the planet, and war and things. And a lot of stuff does resonate all these years on.
Floyd are just different to other bands, I think. And like you say, because they don't exist. It's not like you're a Foo Fighters tribute and, “Oh, god, they put an album out; we need to learn this new album, because we're going to have to stick some of it in the set.” You've got that back catalog to pick from – and I'll be honest with you, trying to pick what to play can be quite tricky, because you've got to play certain numbers. And then it’s, “Alright, we’ve got the space to do that, but we need to play this song because we played the other song last year.” And, obviously, like we said earlier, the songs are quite long, so you can only fit in 20 to 25 songs a night, or something. You might miss out on someone's favorite song, but it's hard to pick that setlist, because the music is so good.
The Australian Pink Floyd Show is online at http://www.aussiefloyd.com.
Chris Barnes photo by Mark Gibson // provided by Lappen Enterprises