Stage: Wish You Were Here: A Tribute to Pink Floyd – Rhumbelow Theatre, Cunningham Road, Umbilo
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
GOOD to welcome new faces on to the Rhumbelow Theatre circuit with this enjoyable tribute to British band Pink Floyd, an informal but engrossing showband salute that, after a late-November, sell-out run at the Kloof branch of the Rhumbelow Theatre franchise, is to be presented at the Umbilo theatre, in Cunningham Road. It will be staged at 8pm on December 27 and 28, 2pm on December 29 and 6.30pm on December 31.
Not, of course, that the band members are new to the local music scene. Band leader Ross Tapson, who handles lead vocals and guitar, has been making music for some while fronting Templar Funk, a trio also featuring equally seasoned bassist Neil Ford and singer-guitarist Steve Squier.
These three, offering deft interplay, are the backbone of this Pink Floyd tribute show, but they are very well supported by drummer Grant Halliday, keyboardist Dulcie Erasmus, guest saxophonist Johan Vermeulen and backing vocalists Tiffany Sheppard and Belonda Devoren.
Pink Floyd’s music is complex and challenging, so hats off to the tight team for tackling both the classic hits and less commercial material from the legendary group which formed in London in 1965 and went on to conquer the world with progressive, psychedelic albums such as The Wall, Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here.
Tracks from all three of these collections feature in this two-act show which, while highlighting some atmospheric lighting (loved the white-hot flashes), is otherwise low on fuss and with minimal casual patter. It kept an ample, head-bopping audience well satisfied at the opening performance in Kloof.
Performed since 2017, at various local venues and also in Cape Town, the show opens with the first two tracks from The Wall, then goes into an early highlight with Shine On You Crazy Diamond, a salute to the band’s early-’70s period.
Shine On You Crazy Diamond is a favourite of mine, a nine-part Pink Floyd composition written by Roger Waters, Richard Wright and David Gilmour in tribute to former band member Syd Barrett. It was first performed on the band’s 1974 French tour, and recorded for their 1975 concept album.
Also on Tapson and team’s songsheet are the classics Another Brick in the Wall and Comfortably Numb, of course, as are Money, Wish You Were Here, Mother, Hey You, Breathe, Dogs of War, Time and Run Like Hell.
Among highlights is the group’s fun interpretation, with assorted loopy laughs and giggles, of the trippy Brain Damage. Pink Floyd originally called the song Lunatic, during live performances and recording sessions, and the band is on record as having stated that the insanity-themed lyrics are based on former Floyd frontman Barrett’s mental instability.
I also greatly enjoyed the plaintive and haunting A Great Day For Freedom, from Pink Floyd’s 1994 album, The Division Bell, which Tapson performs after pointing out that it is almost 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. A great song, but Ross’s vocal could have been lent more volume. In fact, a few numbers in this show would benefit from more vocal amplification.
Conspicuous by its absence, for me anyway, was one of my favourite Pink Floyd numbers, Us and Them, but this remains a very rewarding experience and a must for Pink Floyd fanatics. It could do with a little pruning though – the 8pm opening night performance in Kloof finished at about 10.35pm.
Tickets cost R150 each and booking is at Computicket or by calling Roland at 082 499 8636.