Wizards of Oz have Floyd down to a tee

The Australian Pink Floyd  probably better than we were said  Floyds Nick Mason
The Australian Pink Floyd probably better than we were said Floyds Nick Mason

They have sold more than four million concert tickets worldwide and have played in more than 35 countries in a career of 29 years, writes MARTIN HUTCHINSON.

The Australian Pink Floyd Show is widely accepted to be the best tribute band to any band – ever and have kept the music of Pink Floyd in a live setting alive.

Floyd’s legendary guitarist David Gilmour invited them to play at his 50th birthday party where both he and Floyd’s keyboard player Rick Wright joined them on stage.

Since their formation in Adelaide in 1988, the show has developed into a multi-media extravaganza with a magnificent light show, including lasers, backdrop films and inflatables (however, as Australians, instead of a pink pig, they have a kangaroo).

Pink Floyd’s drummer Nick Mason once said: “they are probably better than we were.” And a few years ago the Aussie musicians introduced 3D imagery, which is something that the original band never got around to.

Their note-perfect renditions of Pink Floyd classics means that The Times described them as ‘The Gold Standard’. The band is still headed by founder-members Jason Sawford on keyboards and guitarist Steve Mac.

Just ahead of their annual UK tour, entitled ‘The Best Side Of The Moon’, Jason tells me that the band is on top form.

“Yes, everything is going well, we’ve just got back from a US tour and I’m still a bit jet-lagged.”

It’s quite a big band, with a line-up that Pink Floyd themselves would be proud of. Along with Jason and Steve, there is Dave Fowler as second guitarist, drummer Paul Bonney, bassist Ricky Howard, singer Chris Barnes, Mike Kidson on saxophone and a trio of backing singers in Emily Lynn, Lara Smiles and Lorelei McBroom.

And, keeping it in the family, Lorelei’s sister Durga actually was a backing vocalist with the original Pink Floyd!

“It’s a great line-up,” agrees Jason.

A life-long Floyd fan, he is responsible for the intricate keyboard sounds that are only really possible to recreate live due to the improvement in keyboard technology.

As the tour is entitled ‘The Best Side Of The Moon’, can we expect an emphasis on ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ – Pink Floyd’s masterpiece from 1973?

“Yes, we’re doing the album in its entirety. The promoters like us to do it and it’s a very popular album. Most people know it all and we have revamped a few things.”

And what else can we expect?

“We’re also going to do a selection from ‘Wish You Were Here’ and quite a bit from ‘The Wall’.”

“And,” he adds. “We hope to do a Syd Barratt number – Arnold Layne.”

Jason has been playing Pink Floyd music with the band since it started 29 years ago, does he find it tedious?

“No, not at all. The thing about Pink Floyd music is that it’s interesting to play and it always sounds fresh. And when you go on tour, you’re in a bubble and you can see the happiness on the faces of the people who see us.”

· The Australian Pink Floyd Show will appearing at The O2 Apollo Theatre, Manchester, on Saturday. Tickets from the box office.