The Australian Pink Floyd Show / Led Zeppelin 2
Thursday, August 20th, 2015
Red Hat Amphitheater, Downtown Raleigh —

Classic Rock is terrible. I said it. For every Tom Petty, there are 20 Bachman Turner Overdrives. The odds are against our eardrums. I can’t think of any genre where the cream has such an immense distance to travel before rising to the top. But once you hit that upper echelon, you achieve a state of nirvana. Apparently, a couple thousand people agreed with me by showing up at Red Hat Amphitheater on the 20th to see musicians pretend to be the cream of the crop. Your humble storyteller happened to be the guest of a friend of the program, Egg, and his lovely parents that night for The Australian Pink Floyd Show with opener Led Zeppelin 2.

Led Zeppelin 2 went for the look (which they nailed, 3/5 stars overall), but Aussie Floyd went for the sound and the lights. And knocked it out of the park. They brought with them the full compliment of musicians: two dueling guitar leads (outputting grade-A solos), a bassist struggling to hit Roger’s parts (like that one turbulent segment of Roger’s own career where his vocal chords were mad at him), a multi-keyboardist, a snappily-dressed saxophonist (who was trying a bit too hard but was totally feeling it), and a trio of junior varsity chorus girls. I liked the tall one though. She was sparkly. (Next time you are in the South, holla at your boy.) The short one killed it on the “whoa-oh” parts of “The Great Gig in the Sky,” by the way.

I was pretty excited to see Aussie Floyd. I never had the pleasure of seeing original Pink Floyd live (since I was born in the wrong decade), but I did manage to see Roger Waters thrice since the turn of the millennium:
The Dark Side of the Moon Live, Omaha, 2007
The Wall Live, KC, 2010
The Wall Live, Raleigh, 2012
Having a frame of reference for Aussie Floyd’s performance did not hinder my enjoyment at all. They brought the (delicate sound of?) thunder. At the opening boom of “In the Flesh?”, Egg’s mom lost a year or two off the end of her life as she jumped about 3 feet out of her chair with a startled outburst of, “Shit!” and then proceeded to wear her sunglasses at night for the rest of the (great) gig (in the sky?).

Being such a huge Floyd fan, I was able to quickly identify and take note of each song on the setlist. It’s a good thing too, since Setlist.FM let me down this time. By my count, the setlist was the same as a few nights prior in Jersey but with “The Happiest Days of Our Lives” preceding “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2.”

4/5 stars – The stage show was top notch. Dancing lasers (mimicking the guitar strings’ vibrations during “Wish You Were Here” was a nice touch), an inflatable kangaroo plus schoolteacher, and a giant portcullis video screen showing all nine sorts of weird visuals. It was as if the last 20 years of my life were all a dream and I’m actually still crammed in the back of my buddy’s Honda CRX, passing a poorly rolled joint, and reveling in the first moment I experienced “Time.”