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Music and the mantra of Floyd

- A San Francisco-based tribute band enthrals fans with ‘Pink’ evergreens

Guwahati, Sept. 20: There’s something about starting a show with Shine on you Crazy Diamond… nice long introduction with the echo of a church organ, incredible feel that handholds a listener into a different, hallowed world, very signature — and, if you are a Floyd tribute band, very Pink Floyd.

So quite an expected entry there, when the House of Floyd, the Pink Floyd tribute band from San Francisco in the US, played here last evening. And nice and appropriate too, when you follow it up with say We don’t Need no Education or say Time or Goodbye Blue Sky, or perhaps Have a Cigar. For the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s — and the spillover ’90s and 2000s — rockhead (is there also a Floydhead? There were quite a few last evening), these guys can be a decent throwback in time. Old school, and rarely irreverent.

Mark Showalter on keyboards, saxophone and vocals, Pat Potter on guitar, lap steel and vocals, Lou Portela on bass and vocals, Greg Studley on guitar, keyboards and vocals, Eddie Berman on drums and tape effects, and Sheri Showalter and Mellissa Harley on vocals and percussion — that’s the House of Floyd line-up.

They aren’t an underground study of the musical philosophy of Floyd. These guys do the commercial gig, and this time, across India courtesy Seagrams. So expect more of the safe stuff. Expect the tick-tocking nostalgia of Time. Expect more of the electric — so, sorry, no Wish You were Here last evening. That, though, is also perhaps a good way of steering clear of definitions — is Pink Floyd more Space Rock or Psychedelic Rock? Keep it simple — it’s just Floyd, no matter the occasional attempted improvisation. And perhaps given the achievements in the field, they quite deserve that — a genre of their own.

But, of course, there’s always that one sparkling stone that makes the evening — Pink Floyd’s immortal words of the human equation with death:

...And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I

Don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying?

There’s no reason for it, you’ve gotta go sometime.’

I never said I was frightened of dying.

And then the wail, a soprano’s moment in the spotlight, in the all-so-legendary Great Gig in the Sky. It’s like getting Deep Purple’s Child in Time right or Led Zep’s Stairway to Heaven in one straight stroke. Sheri Showalter sings it quite to perfection. Played against the expectations of a Pink Floyd audience, Mellissa is House of Floyd’s crazy diamond. She is pure Floyd, unadulterated.

They’re not exactly known for their economy of sound, Pink Floyd. They’re elaborate and intricate and hence, a tough act to follow, especially replicate, on stage. Truth be told, though, if you have to listen to a cover version, hear it from a tribute band. They are as close as they can get to the original — in a relative way, so to speak. Hence, the House of Floyd. Call them the original tribute band.