Written by Bill Whiting
Photos by Scott Preston
There was a great amount of anticipation in the air as the lights dimmed for Brit Floyd’s first performance at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, Ohio on March 8. The familiar heartbeat pulse was heard inside the storied facility, and the graphics on the screen above the stage signaled an intro to the 1973 Pink Floyd album, Dark Side of the Moon. Indeed, as Brit Floyd began with “Breathe (In the Air),” the sound reverberated and pounded the Taft’s renovated interior. A filmed theme greeted each piece, and the ticking clocks moving towards the audience onscreen during “Time,” were accentuated by the razor sharp guitar lines of Brit Floyd musical director, Damian Darlington. As the ensemble coalesced around a moving tribute to the late Richard Wright on “The Great Gig in the Sky,” Ola Bienkowska belted out an emotional show stopping vocal solo to end the Dark Side of the Moon’s first side. Next up, bass player Ian Cattell introduced the opening track, “Pigs on the Wing,” to Pink Floyd’s Animals album. A lengthy route into “Dogs” followed, with dark and eerie visuals
backing Brit Floyd’s propulsive rhythmic attack. Shifting gears to mount a stab at the Floyd masterpiece, The Wall, keyboardist Rob Stringer, and multi instrumentalist Carl Brunsdon, took on stronger roles in the escalating, operatic production. “Young Lust,” “One of My Turns,” and “Don’t Leave Me Now” were highlights of the first set, and Brit Floyd were hitting their marks like seasoned veterans as they closed out the second side of The Wall with a definitive take on “Goodbye Cruel World.” Starting the second set with the ethereal “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” from Pink Floyd’s classic 1975 chart topper, Wish You Were Here, Brit Floyd emerged onstage as hints of Syd Barrett’s eyes crept around the overhead screens. Bobby Harrison’s stinging lead guitar colored “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and the droning, futuristic composition, “Welcome to the Machine.” The bright spot in the concert was a full work out of the second side of Pink Floyd’s mesmerizing 1994 recording, The Division Bell. “Take it Back” and “Keep Talking” contained a visual opulence augmented by a full scale light show and booming, clear sound from sound designer and engineer, Gareth Darlington. Brit Floyd followed The Division Bell with a greatest hits package that included the title track from Wish You Were Here, a distortion and feedback laced turn on “One of These Days” from Pink Floyd’s epic 1971 long player, Meddle, and two full scale jams from The Wall, “Comfortably Numb” and “Run Like Hell.” Vocalists Cattell, Bienkowska, and Damian Darlington burned brightly all night, nailing each scripted turn with a heightened sense of tension and release. Brit Floyd’s sound and light spectacular at Cincinnati’s Taft Theatre on March 8 was an imaginative feast, full of daring delights for the mind, body and soul.