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Comfortably awesome! (Johannesburg 2005)

By Bart Marinovich, (Johannesburg Star Tonight, 3 August)
Johannesberg Civic Theatre

The Pink Floyd Experience rocks!

It is billed as a tribute to Pink Floyd, without a doubt the best rock band in the world. Pink Floyd have been an integral part of my life for the best part of over 30 years. I have followed them since school, through varsity and now as a middle-aged father. Following Pink Floyd is like yoga, jogging and journalism – it’s a way of life. I saw former front-man Roger Waters when he came here some years ago and that was unforgettable. But this show was awesome.

The kiwis doing the show offer a proper homage to Pink Floyd. From the opening chord, they never missed a beat and if you closed your eyes, you could see Waters, David Gilmour, et al. The band is slick, professional and on the button. Three of the founding members had been playing in various pub bands in New Zealand as well as performing in bands playing original music but unable to get a record deal. So in 1997, they embarked on a project to recreate Pink Floyd, the quintessential rock band of the 20th century. That they have done with style, substance and sound.

Lead guitarist Darren Whittaker holds the show together. From the beginning, he dominates with his precision playing and cool demeanor. Glen Ahearn warms up as the show goes along and came into his own with the classic Another Brick in the Wall. Stan Gratkowski on lead vocals is the epitome of the front-man and excels with his mannerisms and voice slightly manic, slightly bent, but always in touch.

The only gripe I had was the venue itself. The Civic Theatre is a venue for theatre, ballet and plays. This kind of show deserves a wider audience. It should be part of the rock experience – a whisky in one hand, a smoke in the other and a blonde on your back. An arena would have been a better option.

Maybe a younger audience would have been bopping in the aisles, but the more mature audience on opening night stayed steadfastly in their seats. And just a note to the band: if you wanna be a bunch of rockers, and you obviously have the talent, then do an encore! But there can be no complaints. The Pink Floyd Experience is the best import to come out of New Zealand since, well, The Pink Floyd Experience. The real Pink Floyd will never come to South Africa. So, get along to Braamfontein and let this show rock your world. It rocked mine.

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