UK Pink Floyd Experience

UK Pink Floyd Experience

Central Theatre, Chatham
Friday, 19th April 2024

I don’t often go and see tribute bands. It’s not that I’m some weird purist who disapproves of tribute acts, far from it! If the band that originally created the music is no longer around, then that isn’t the music’s fault – the music still deserves to be played. I strongly suspect that the musicians who take it on are not only enthusiasts for the band to which they pay tribute, they are (almost) always up to the task of performing the music as faithfully to the album versions as possible – and I think the fans usually love that!

Nevertheless, had I known that this event was happening, I probably wouldn’t have gone. I’m just a simple post-COVID shut-in. But I am fortunate enough to have an old friend who had a spare ticket and he invited me the day before the show. Thanks, Mick!

Here are my thoughts on the evening – so strap yourself in and prepare to be dazzled by my hyperbole. Only kidding. Credit where credit is due!

Firstly, I must mention the venue. This beautiful 965 seat theatre, opened in 1908, has been thoroughly retro-modded to fit in with modern demands of accessibility, with lifts, ramps, automatic doors, bars and loads of toilets, while maintaining the look and feel of the original fixtures and fittings within the auditorium. The staff are exceptionally helpful and friendly. I’ve been there before to see a few high profile comedians and the odd pantomime, and I was always struck by how fantastic a music venue it would be. I wasn’t wrong. And it was packed. And you can buy ice cream!

Central Theatre - Chatham

Next, I was struck by the detailed recreation of the archetypal post-Waters Pink Floyd set they had built on stage, albeit to scale given that this is not a massive stadium, with the risers for the backing vocalists, drums and keyboards and the large circular projection screen at the back.

UK Pink Floyd Experience

If you check out the UKPFE web site (link below), the band – and band it really is – are very much presented as a cast in a show. But in every way, this is a band of accomplished musicians.

The show started promptly… just as well because it was a long set with a 20 minute interval. Clearly the band and its team knew that they were playing to bladders of a certain age who needed to be home, not too late, for their cocoa.

TUKPFE’s own David, Paul Andrews, did a wonderful job of representing mid 70’s to ‘80s Gilmour. Not only did he look the part, his vocals and guitar parts could easily be mistaken for Mr. Gilmour.

UK Pink Floyd Experience - Paul Andrews

Their “version” of Roger Waters, David Power, on the other hand, may have looked less the part but he nailed both the Roger Waters and Guy Pratt bass parts, both of which are innovative, the latter being significantly more technical. And I’m pretty sure he threw in a few of his own bass licks. Kudos.

Being at the side of the stage, I struggled to get a good photo. Here’s a snip from a photo taken by Kevin Gibbons. This is David Power at the UK Pink Floyd Experience show in Loughborough, early April ‘24

UK Pink Floyd Experience

Their “Nick Mason”, Francesco Borrelli, on the other hand, seemed to go his own way, rather than try to present himself and his performance as a facsimile of the original. Kudos to Francisco, too, as he did a damn fine job.

Rick Benbow, their Rick Wright, simply didn’t put a foot wrong. He performed Wright’s parts of the vocal duets in all the right places and his voice perfectly complimented Paul’s, as did the original combination of Gilmour and Wright.

UK Pink Floyd Experience - Rick Benbow

Not to diminish their input in any way, the “supporting cast”, without whom the near perfect sound could not have existed, must be mentioned. Everyone on stage, except the drummer, shared the role of lead and or backing vocalists and the ensemble vocals were quite magnificent.

The other players also supplemented the instrumentation. Emma Street performed that vocal from Dark Side of the Moon – you know the one – and to a standing ovation. Jo Paterson-Neild performed saxophone on the Dark Side Of The Moon tracks and wherever else sax was needed, and I was reminded, as I listened, how perfect an album Dark Side Of The Moon is. Mike Bollard played guitar and occasionally supplemental keyboards. On guitar, for a couple of tracks, he and Paul Andrews doubled up on some of the solos, and it was sublime!

Not only was I reminded of my favourite period of Floyd, that’s Dark Side Of The Moon through to The Wall, I came to appreciate the post Waters Pink Floyd, not my favourite music. It is way better than I’d thought when experienced in a live setting. In fact, it sounded tremendous. I’m even warming to the earlier, Syd Barrett songs (since watching the Sky Arts Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets gig, filmed at The Roundhouse in 2020). Sadly, these were a little thin on the ground.

UK Pink Floyd Experience

The sound and visuals were excellent. The sound guy, Dave Woodfield, did an astounding job. The mix was near perfect. It was loud, but only loud enough. I didn’t need my ear plugs! I found it the perfect volume, and the clarity of sound was incredible. Every string, drumhead, cymbal, key and vocal was distinctly audible. I left the gig and there was none of the usual ringing in the ears and destroyed high frequency perception of most gigs. If only all bands/sound guys were able to do this! The lighting and back projections by Stu Hunt were in synchronicity with the music. As the theatre emptied, I took the opportunity to speak with them. They were clearly happy with their work that night, and they were both buzzing. I hope I didn’t come across as somewhat over-stimulated.

UK Pink Floyd Experience

I never saw Pink Floyd. But to be honest, experienced from the back of some massive stadium, I can’t see how that would have been any more… no… AS enjoyable. Look, there I am, downstairs, near the back, on the right. See how stoked I was to be there!?!

UK Pink Floyd Experience - Stage/Audience Photo

Photo courtesy of the UK Pink Floyd Experience Facebook Page

[Live band photographs by Phil Lively except where indicated]

Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Astronomy Domine
What Do You Want From Me
Learning To Fly
Keep Talking
Remember a Day?
High Hopes
The Wall – a medley made up of some of the bricks.
~ Interlude and a lovely stem ginger ice cream ~
The Great Gig In The Sky
Not Now John
One Slip
Wish You Were Here
Us And Them/Brain Damage/Eclipse
Comfortably Numb

My apologies to the band if I got this wrong, but it is your fault for making the show so engaging.

David Power – Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar & Vocals (Show Producer & Director)
Rick Benbow – Piano, Hammond, Keyboards & Vocals Programming (Show Musical Director)
Paul Andrews – Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar & Vocals
Mike Bollard – Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards & Vocals
Francesco Borrelli – Drums & Percussion
Emma Street – Vocals & Percussion
Jo Paterson-Neild – Vocals, Tenor & Baritone Sax & Percussion

Dave Woodfield – Sound Engineer
Stu Hunt – Lighting & Production Manager

UK Pink Floyd Experience – Website | Facebook | X