Brit Floyd Rocks Phoenix

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Brit Floyd - June 28, 2024 - Arizona Financial Theatre, Phoenix

It was a wondrous evening of progressive rock music as Brit Floyd, the premiere Pink Floyd tribute act, brought their 2024 Pulse World Tour to downtown Phoenix. The show featured 20 songs from the Pink Floyd songbook and opened, fittingly enough, with "Astronomy Domine," a trippy cosmos-oriented tune that was the first song on Pink Floyd's 1967 debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. So the cut, written by the now deceased Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett, was theoretically the first song fans of Pink Floyd ever heard and Brit Floyd paid homage to that notion by beginning their show with it this evening. Late in the show Brit Floyd played another super oldie, the instrumental "One of These Days" from 1971's Meddle, during which the famed inflatable pig appeared, shooting color-changing lasers from its eyes. Otherwise all songs came from 1975 and forward.

Brit Floyd has three front men, all of whom are singers: guitarist Damian Darlington, guitarist Edo Scorbo and bass man Ian Cattell; it was those three along with keys player Matt Riddle and drummer Randy Cooke who were on stage for "Astronomy Domine" but they were quickly joined by percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Saranich and backup singers Eva Avila, Genevieve Little and Robin Cage for second song, the soaring "Learning to Fly." The show featured incredible light and laser shows throughout the set along with material projected on a screen at the rear of the stage. For "Learning to Fly" the projections included film snippets of all kinds of airplanes, from biplanes to jetliners, and there was a moment of incredible synchronization: When the song's lyric of "a vapor trail in the empty air" was sung the screen showed a jet zipping along and leaving a contrail, a small but not insignificant detail that surely thrilled those in the crowd who caught it.

This tour is playing out in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of Pink Floyd's The Division Bell album and Brit Floyd played five songs from that album; "Take it Back," "A Great Day for Freedom" which is about the fall of the Berlin wall, "Coming Back to Life," the psychedelic guitar-filled "Keep Talking" and "High Hopes" which featured amazing steel guitar work from Darlington. The show was performed in two sets and the first set wrapped up with a take on "Sorrow," originally from Floyd's A Momentary Lapse of Reason album and two cuts from Animals, "Pigs on the Wing, Part 1" and "Dogs," of course with the requisite sound of barking dogs.

The second half of the show included "Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)" and "Wish You Were Here," both of which were inspired by what happened to Syd Barrett (mental health issues combined with drug use that caused him to get kicked out of Pink Floyd.) "Wish You Were Here," already touching with its sentiment, was made all the more melancholy by what accompanied it on the video screen: Early photos and film clips of Pink Floyd that focused on Barrett. Easily the highlight of the second half was "The Great Gig in the Sky," from the much-beloved The Dark Side of the Moon album. The song featured a stunning vocal solo from Avila, her voice soaring to the heavens and dripping with emotion on the song's wordless vocals. Avila's singing was so amazing that the house lights came up for a few moments at song's end so that she could see and acknowledge the adulation being heaped on her. Also performed late in the set were "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1" where the audience gleefully sang along with the rebellious lyrics, the dreamy "Us and Them" with fine sax work from Saranich, and "Money," the funkiest song that Pink Floyd ever did, made all the more funky here with the inclusion of scat vocals by Little. "Comfortably Numb" and "Run Like Hell" ended Brit Floyd's homage to Pink Floyd. With consummate playing and singing, Brit Floyd's show goes way beyond what you would expect from a tribute act, and their fans in Phoenix were obviously grateful for that.

Brit Floyd remains on tour in the U.S. through July. Find remaining tour dates here.

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