Pink Floyd comes to Jerusalem
It was just like being at a Pink Floyd concert…maybe even better. At least that was how I felt walking out of the “Echoes” show at Jerusalem’s Zappa Club on Thursday night. Echoes is an Israeli Pink Floyd “tribute band.” That means that they don’t just play covers of Pink Floyd songs; they attempt to recreate them note for note. And they do it very well.
Echoes is not just an ordinary bar band with a hankering for 1970’s space rock. Their show includes a ten-person ensemble – multiple guitars, keyboards, percussion, and three female back up singers who wail with the best on the Pink Floyd classic “The Great Gig in the Sky.”
There is a large circular screen (it looks like a vertically-hoisted trampoline) where video is projected during the entire show. Some of that film looked like it was from Pink Floyd’s original live shows nearly 40 years ago. I should know – I was a massive Pink Floyd fan and saw that band live in 1977 in San Francisco (I remember exactly where I was sitting as well as the giant hot air balloon of a pig hovering over us during the show).
The musicians in Echoes would be excellent even on their own, but as a tribute band, their adherence to the original is key: fans aren’t coming to hear some group’s creative interpretations of their favorite songs. They want to close their eyes and pretend they’re hearing the real thing. I have listened to some of Pink Floyd’s albums so many times that I know the exact instrumentation and every vocal inflection. That’s what I came to hear and I was entirely thrilled.
Echoes just launched its 2013 touring schedule with this Jerusalem show. There were two sets – the first includes a generous helping of songs from the albums Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall, with one mild clunker thrown in from a later Pink Floyd album (The Division Bell) which they nevertheless managed to rock out on (here they actually exceeded the original album version).
The highlight of the performance was the second act: the entire Dark Side of the Moon album in its entirety. Echoes is mixing it up – future shows will feature different albums as a whole in the second act (great marketing trick: I may have to go again).
My musical tastes as a teenager were eclectically all over the map, from the Top 40 bubble gum of The Turtles to the neo-metal glam rock of The Tubes. But my “center” was always the progressive rock anthems from Pink Floyd, early Genesis and Yes. I would throw my hands up in the air at a soaring guitar solo (like the one in Shine on You Crazy Diamond that kicked off the Echoes tribute show), and I swear I was able to touch something beyond my mortal reality of bullies and books. Some might call it God. For me, that was the power of rock and roll. And yes, I know that’s a cliché, but sometimes platitudes really do say it best.
It’s been 35 years since I heard Pink Floyd live and, other than the lead singer, who just doesn’t have the chops of David Gilmour or Roger Waters, the Echoes band was pretty darn close. And the venue was a whole lot more intimate – Pink Floyd in the 70s was already mid-sized arena rock ready; Zappa in Jerusalem is a supper club that can hold several hundred, small enough where the musicians come out and meet their fans at the bar following the show.
I went with some fellow Pink Floyd fanatics to the concert last week, but afterward, I thought, if I ever go back, maybe I’d take my kids, so they could understand their father a bit better. On the other hand, you really have to know and love the music inside and out and to properly appreciate a tribute band.
If you do, and Pink Floyd is in your DNA, this is a show not to miss. Check the website for upcoming dates. There are both official and fan videos on the site, but they don’t do justice to the pounding energy of the live show. I haven’t done so much head bopping since the Bohemian Rhapsody scene in Wayne’s World.
Flash: the band has now been signed to its first Israeli record label, Helicon. I don’t know if they’ll be recording Pink Floyd music or their own stuff. Should be interesting either way.