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February 27, 2013

VIDEO | Pink Floyd tribute band ready to rock

JOHNSTOWN — Brit Floyd, the self-proclaimed “World’s Greatest Pink Floyd Show,” will be bringing its “wall” of sound, light and in-house animation to Johnstown’s Cambria County War Memorial Arena tonight.

This Johnstown appearance is the first on the band’s 2013 “P-U-L-S-E” world tour, which will also take them across the U.K., Ireland, Belgium, Poland and Canada for more than 70 concerts.

The group of a dozen musicians and its crew has been practicing and feeling out the arena since Tuesday.

They’ve worked out complex light choreography and animated accompaniments that will be playing on a 20-foot screen behind them.

The band has five full album sides on their setlist, rounding out the three-hour show with a retrospective of classic tunes from “The Division Bell,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Animals,” “The Wall” and the iconic “The Dark Side of the Moon.”

A group of 20 to 30 Floyd fans were lucky enough to catch a sneak peek of the band’s dress rehearsal on Wednesday evening and were treated to the first five tracks from “Dark Side.” They won a ticket giveaway by radio station WRKW-FM, known as Rocky 99.

Each successfully identified which band – the original or the tribute – was playing a short sound clip played on-air. In other words, they know what Pink Floyd should sound like.

“I thought the show was outstanding,” said Dan Leaser of Westmont. “I cannot wait to see the concert tomorrow.”

Scott Burkhart of Conemaugh saw the original “Animals” tour in Cleveland in the late 70s.

“It was fantastic,” he said.

This is Brit Floyd’s second North American tour - the band also visited the War Memorial last year. Damian Darlington, the group’s musical director and lead guitarist, said getting to take this show around the world is a “dream come true.”

“They were around 40-odd years ago, but it’s still ‘cool’ to be into Pink Floyd, moreso than any other band from that era, I think,” he said. “I wish I knew why that was and I could bottle it.

“They seem to transcend generations with their appeal,” he said.

Bassist Ian Cattell, the only onstage member of Brit Floyd who’s not actually British, said the music they play is “timeless.”

“It’s very emotional stuff, and I think it speaks to the hearts of a lot of rock fans,” he said.

Dozens of crew members and engineers milled around the arena floor Wednesday night, making sure timing and cues were spot-on. The hardest part, according to Cattell, is getting all the music, lights and animation to mesh come showtime.

“(The hardest part is) probably getting everything coordinated because there’s so many different elements,” he said. “The video, the lights, the sound and the anywhere from 10 to 12 musicians we have on stage.”

Darlington said it’s no easy task to faithfully reproduce Floyd’s original and complex sound.

“We really want to get every nuance of Pink Floyd music and the visual side of things correct,” he said. “There’s a lot of detail and a lot of thought goes into that process.”

The Johnstown show will be followed by a pair of gigs at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh on Friday and Saturday.

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