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Tuesday 16 April 2019

Review: The Dark Side Of Pink Floyd Brought Attention To Detail & Raucous Solos To Komedia Brighton

Servants of Science founder, Stuart Avis, reports that as Komedia Brighton celebrates its 25th year, a little known fact is that it once played host to a record breaking Pink Floyd event.


Credit Stuart Avis

In 2006 a ten hour Floyd marathon took place at the venue featuring a multitude of musicians. 

Now, almost thirteen years on, the venue once again provided a platform for the iconic band's music via the talents of The Dark Side Of Pink Floyd.

Over the last eight years The Dark Side have been building a strong reputation by working their way up to headlining the mother of all tribute events - Glastonbudget, and almost literally playing in labyrinths of coral caves in the west country.

Armed to the gills with many unique weapons in their arsenal catering for both the musical Gilmour-geeks and the theatrical exploits championed by Roger Waters, The Dark Side of Pink Floyd are a rare proposition. 


Backing vocalist Chris Neal multi-tasks voicing many of the additional soundbites that pepper Floyd's work and, helped along by his day job as a research scientist qualifying him as a bona fide mad professor, effortlessly slips into the role of the schoolmaster from The Wall giving the audience a stern telling off, much to their delight.

Although many of the plethora of Floyd tribute bands can, and do, portray the necessary musicianship to respectably present the sound of Floyd, the weak link is often with the lead vocals. 

More often than not the task is handled by someone with a basic nice voice that can carry a tune which completely misses the power required for a song like Time or the necessary bite for a vitriolic epic like Sheep. 


This is certainly NOT the case here. Lead vocalist and guitarist Mike Neal throws himself into the dual vocal roles as if they were his to sing regardless of the original protagonist. 

The fact he can also emulate Gilmour's distinctive guitar subtleties with ease makes the band's frontman a triple threat, smoothly handling the raucous solos of Time and Money and the softer tones of Echoes and Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

A vast amount of Floyd's catalogue is fairly simple to play on a basic level, every busker worth their salt can sail through a passable Wish You Were Here but, what sets The Dark Side apart from the hoards that have attempted these works is the feel. They nail it! 

Striking a balance between a stage show based on Floyd's final tour for The Division Bell album in 1994 as preserved in 1995's P.U.L.S.E., although slightly pared down for this evening's event due to the confines of the stage at Komedia, blended with the musical feel and genuine sense of a band gelling that the originators mastered during their 1970s peak. 

Bass player Steve Munns muses: "in 'Us And Them', on the bass it's more or less just two notes, I still love playing those two notes after all these years because, you can play those two notes but it's how you play those two notes." 

It's attention to detail like this, or perhaps attention to lack of detail, that sets this troupe of friends and family apart from their contemporaries.

The fact that the band are a mix of family members and long-standing friendships may go some way to explaining why they gel so well, they know each other explicitly on and off the stage which appears to be a priceless asset. 

Further bolstering the authenticity of their sound is Steve Wiltshire on saxophones, who channels original saxophonist Dick Parry to perfection, and the backing vocals of Alison Neal, who has the unenviable task of taking lead on The Great Gig in the Sky

Great Gig can only ever go one of two ways, it will blow your mind or it will make you want to run like hell out of the building, there is no in-between. 

Even Mica Paris murdered the song when guesting with Brighton's latest celebrity property developer David Gilmour and, original songwriter and Floyd keyboard player, Richard Wright in 2006. 

Alison rises to the challenge and belts out a soulful rendition, as this was a standing gig we'll assume the ovation is a given and deserved.

I've been watching Floyd tribute bands for more than a quarter of a century since The Australian Pink Floyd Show graced Brighton's Zap Club in the early 90s. 

The bar has been raised many times but, last Thursday at Komedia Brighton, The Dark Side Of Pink Floyd may well have elevated it fully out of reach.

For more info on The Dark Side Of Pink Floyd please CLICK HERE.

by: Stuart Avis




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Credit Tom Woollard

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