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Live Review: Wish You Were Here, A Tribute To Pink Floyd @ The Triffid

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Sonic experimentation, philosophical lyrics, and extended compositions: Pink Floyd has a reputation and a repertoire truly worthy of tribute. With their sharp commentary of industrial society cloaked in a sound maintaining its other-worldliness over time; a few brave Brisbane bands took to The Triffid’s stage to do them proud.

I arrive to find Lucy Star Satellite thrashing out a tune of their own. While their style of music doesn’t leave a huge impression on me, the rich notes that the two vocalists were throwing across the room did. The 7-piece jump straight into a song with a little more punch, recognisable immediately as Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2. Packed with attitude and energy, the song marches along into a very Pink Floyd-esque guitar sequence, featuring all the long-windedness you would expect from a Pink Floyd track.  In recognition of that week’s loss of Bowie and Rickman, the lead singer introduces an original song in ode to them. A slow, roots ditty ensues while the audience thinks about their fave Harry Potter and Labyrinth moments…

A 4-string ascension announces what is possibly everybody’s favourite Floyd song, and you can sense the anticipation for Wish You Were Here by the excited nods between audience members. Truncating the massive instrumental intro, and launching into an ultimately disappointing rendition of the bittersweet number, Lucy Star Satellite should have stuck to the forceful elements of Floyd’s repertoire.

The lead vocalist’s voice is too low, and her enunciation lacks the beautiful clarity by which Roger Waters perfects the chorus. There’s not enough of a pause after the first few strokes in the main riff, and the overall effect is that the song sounds rushed. Maybe this is the result of a seven-piece band playing a song which is impeccably simple and pared back. Wish You Were Here was overwhelmed by sound.

In their intricately paisley shirts, Magenta Voyeur work their prog-rock tendencies by employing organ-heavy Floyd covers. These guys have emerged during 2015 as Brisbane’s latest psych-rock darlings, with 3/5 of the group sporting truly 70’s, luscious long locks.

Vocalist begins the epic opening of Empty Spaces in a commanding way, peering through a fringe covering his eyes entirely. A double-decker synthesizer accompanied by an organ fills the sound with psychedelia; mauve backlighting conjuring velvet sofas.

Lasers reiterate the reverberating beams of sound as Any Colour You Like makes its leisurely introduction. An epic guitar riff is savoured during the midst of this dream-like interlude of a track. I’m led to hold Magenta Voyeur in high esteem after their utterly verbatim work in Have a Cigar, one of my all-time favourites. They carry this out with the jaunty swagger of the original, adding verity to the lead’s uncanny likeness to Waters’ voice.

Played in juxtaposition to Pink Floyd covers, their original Evergreen & Eventide displays precisely the ways in which Magenta Voyeur have built upon, and not copied Pink Floyd. Shaving the introductory fluff off Sheep, they dive straight into the up-tempo body of the song. They’re true to most elements of the song, taking care to sing into a voice distorter for the bridge part, which I noticed old-school Floyd fans cheering their approval of.

Following Magenta Voyeur’s address of some of Pink Floyd’s more epic numbers, Twin Haus unpack a mellow set, focusing on a more experimental phase. Opening with Welcome to the Machine, the lead’s sweet and ethereal voice fills the stage with a calmness.

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Twin Haus’ delicate attention to the detail of the original tracks put them at the forefront of the imaginary leaderboard. The vocalist hits Jeff Buckley highs, along with accents added to all the right places with an acoustic guitar. The highlight of this set is an original track, which I find out to be an unreleased track called Synthetic Egg. Reminiscent of Local Natives, it oscillates between delicate and emotionally forceful. This song’s use of tubas was perfect and I look forward to its release. Twin Haus finish their set with a spine-tingling rendition of the lesser-known and downtempo track of Floyd, Echoes. What they bring to this is beautiful guitar work and a fabulous keys solo.

Three-man Tsun commence with Breathe (in the air), urging us not to be afraid to care. The performance is a dreamy one, to the extent that it’s almost boring. On the one hand they have a very pure sound but unfortunately, they lack presence. This is at odds with memories of their last performance, where the keyboardist let loose some good-vibe moves.

The mood of the audience has changed from rock concert to sleepy folk-psych singalong. I look around to see that the room has cleared out, with those remaining clinging to their schooners as if it’s the one thing keeping them there. Tsun stick to their sound of psych nostalgia. Their set does not sound like distinctive songs but more like a jam they’re having. Feeling satisfied with the array of performance I’ve seen, I decide to duck out during this final, more self-indulgent set.

Having spent most of my life in chagrined awareness of what I had missed in live music during the 70’s, I feel a slight redemption of this during Wish You Were Here’s performances. Different bands pay homage to different facets of Pink Floyd’s virtuoso, which leaves me wondering what exactly the defining characteristic of Pink Floyd is…

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