Pink Floyd Experience brings psychedelic sounds to W-B
JOSEPH HUDAK For The Times Leader
February 14, 2010
Save for a lucky few who witnessed a 2005 reunion at the Live 8
charity concert in London, experiencing the live Pink Floyd spectacle
has been an unattainable goal for 21st-century fans of the legendary
psychedelic band, famous for such groundbreaking albums as "Dark Side
of the Moon" and "The Wall."
That's where Pennsylvania native Tom Quinn comes in. As bandleader
and guitarist for the six-piece Pink Floyd Experience, Quinn
preserves the group's touring legacy with note-perfect renditions of
the music as well as the stunning multimedia production that made
Floyd concerts so mindblowing. The national tour and its flying pig
touches down at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday.
"I was born in Ridley Park, just outside of Philadelphia. There were
lots of family vacations in the Poconos, so I'm no stranger to
Pennsylvania," says the 54-year-old Quinn, checking in from a tour
stop in San Francisco, where he's about to stage a typically
high-tech performance at the historic Filmore Theatre.
"We have cutting-edge technology, things that I don't understand and
can't even spell. We're definitely pushing the envelope to bring
Floyd fans the biggest bang for their buck," he says of the
production, which includes high-definition video screens and an
assortment of iconic Pink Floyd props like that famous airborne pig.
"It's pretty dazzling stuff. I'm looking out at the crowd and at my
guitars while performing, so I'm jealous of the people in the
audience who actually get to see it."
But at least Quinn and his bandmates lead vocalist Graham Heath,
bassist Gus Beaudoin, sax player Jesse Molloy, keyboardist John Cox
and drummer John Staten get to hear it.
Along with Floyd gems such as "Wish You Were Here," "Comfortably
Numb" and "Money," the Experience also digs into some deeper album
cuts, including selections from the band's 1967 debut LP, "The Piper
at the Gates of Dawn."
"We do a Syd tribute," Quinn says, referring to Pink Floyd's founder
and original lead guitarist Syd Barrett, who left the band in 1968,
was replaced by David Gilmour and died in 2006.
"To me, it's important to represent all phases of the band, including
the Syd era. We turn the Floyd catalog inside out and backwards,
surprising even ourselves. The true diehard fans really appreciate it."
And you don't have to be, well, mature, to be a diehard.
"I thought (the crowd) would be predominantly old hippies and people
with more vinyl than CDs in their collection. But there are three
generations of Floyd fans coming out now. It's not unusual to see
three generations get out of a car, present their tickets and walk
in. Its cross-generational appeal is very real," Quinn says,
crediting that appeal to the enduring power of the music and Roger
As well as "the complete absence of anything worthwhile on the
radio," Quinn adds wryly. "People are hungry for music that matters
and says something. Roger was magical in his lyrics. And David
Gilmour was magical in crafting great melodies with his guitar."
As the band member tasked with handling all of Gilmour's parts, Quinn
re-creates those melodies nightly. "I'd say my favorite album to play
would be (1977's) "Animals," because it shows David at his fiery
best. His fingers are just flying. Never has his playing been more
passionate or kinetic," he says.
But like many, it's "Wish You Were Here" that Quinn cites as the
album he listens to most.
"It's clearly my favorite for putting on a set of headphones.
(Keyboardist) Rick Wright was at the height of his powers, and the
interplay between Rick and David really came together there."
The same can be said for the members of the Pink Floyd Experience,
who since forming in 2003 have developed a tight sound and devoted
fan base the old-fashioned way by playing live.
"It's six live musicians, all on stage, all singing. There are no
backing tracks or karaoke presentation where we're singing along,"
Quinn stresses. "All sounds are by human hands, right there in front
of everybody. It's an honest presentation, and we're proud of that."
When pigs fly
by Kenny Luck
If you attend next week's Pink Floyd Experience concert, expect a
20-foot flying pig, ambient psychedelic lighting and the sounds of
cash registers and ticking clocks to all be part of the show. These
descriptions may conjure up images of a theater performance rather
than a rock show. But if you are Tom Quinn, band leader and guitarist
of The Pink Floyd Experience, that is the idea.
Described as a "crusader for all things Pink Floyd," when Floyd
released its landmark album "Dark Side of the Moon" in 1973, Quinn
was busy learning how to play his first guitar. Years later, he is
keeping himself busy performing songs which initially impacted him in
his youth but also finds relevant today.
From a Fort Collins, Colo., tour stop, Quinn took a few minutes to
talk about the band's upcoming show at the Kirby Center in
Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
"We've been to the Kirby Center before, and we know it's a rockin'
place," he says without the slightest hesitation in his voice. "We
are looking forward to coming back to P.A.!"
The idea to start a Pink Floyd tribute is, an idea Quinn entertained
for many years. Inspired by Floyd's 1994 tour, Quinn finally decided
to "give it a try." After playing the Southern California club
circuit for a few years, Quinn and his bandmates where approached by
Annerin Productions, an entertainment company that specializes in
promoting tribute bands, to take the band's Floyd show on the road.
Since 2003, The Pink Floyd Experience has played to audiences all
across North America.
By limiting the musical scope and focus to one particular group, one
would think that being a mockstar would stifle creativity but not
Quinn. He finds total satisfaction in recreating the show and sound
of Floyd. There is plenty of room in Pink Floyd's 40-year catalog to
accommodate many of his musical needs.
"David (Gilmour) makes you listen, and Roger (Waters) makes you
think," Quinn says. "It is the combination of the two of them which
helped make such a lasting, great classic rock band."
Quinn obviously has an affinity for Floyd, but he is not alone. The
Pink Floyd Experience draws in crowds of all ages. Year by year, the
music of Pink Floyd grows a little bit older, but their fans, hungry
for the sound of a band who has not toured in more than 16 years,
keeps getting younger.
"I never anticipated getting three generations of Floyd fans at the
concerts every night," Quinn says. "I thought it would be the old
guard, the old hippies from Woodstock generation that would be
filling our halls. It is just great to see the power and impact that
the music has throughout the decades."
In recent years, Syd Barrett and Richard Wright, two of Pink Floyd's
founding members, have died, making any possibility of a reunion with
the original lineup impossible. And although guitarist Gilmour and
Floyd bassist Waters still tour from time to time, the closest thing
fans have to experiencing a circa-1970s concert is through bands like
the one Quinn leads.
Other tribute bands, however, such as The Australian Pink Floyd Show
and The Machine, have brought the sound of Pink Floyd to audiences
for the past 20 years and still continue to tour. These groups
compete for the eyes and ears of Floyd fans while all finding their
own niche. Quinn and his bandmates are all aware of this and remain
confident that their interpretation of Floyd is unique from the rest.
"There are different flavors of (Pink Floyd) that people are drawn
to. I'd like to think that we are very passionate," Quinn explains.
"We take a couple of twists and turns with the music, but it's not a
self-indulgent type of thing. It's all based on something David or
Roger has done."
In other words, The Pink Floyd Experience does not offer a
note-for-note replication of the songs but instead models some of
them on rare Floyd bootlegs and live performances. This is one reason
why, according to Quinn, The Pink Floyd Experience is different from
the others in its approach.
"We don't play the obvious hits every night," Quinn says. "We like to
mix it up with different set lists and are constantly moving forward.
There is 40 years of Floyd music to pick from, and it will be a long
time before we exhausted all the different combinations of all those