By “Tampa” Earl Burton, Rock At Night Tampa
Live Review: Brit Floyd at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida – May 30, 2023
I have a confession to make upfront – I’ve never been much of a “tribute band” type of person. While I certainly don’t begrudge those who enjoy seeing bands that are formed to pay respect to the greats of the past, it isn’t necessarily something that I seek out. That attitude, at least for me, has now changed after seeing the stellar show put on by Brit Floyd at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL, on Tuesday night.
Brit Floyd was formed in 2011 by Damian Darlington and, over the past decade-plus, has become the most formidable Pink Floyd tribute act on the road today. Putting an impeccable band around him, including Ian Cattell on bass, Edo Scordo on guitars, Matt Riddle on keyboards, Ryan Saranich as the “jack of all instruments,” Arran Ahmun and Randy Cooke on percussion, and a trio of vocalists – Eva Avila, Genevieve Little, and Chess Galea – providing the female accompaniment, Darlington leads a musical force that pays tribute to one of the classic acts in rock history while still demonstrating a level of virtuosity, a passion for the music, and an artistic implementation that you normally don’t get with tribute acts.
Spanning the Decades of a Storied Career
As it is the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd’s seminal work Dark Side of the Moon, Brit Floyd naturally concentrated on that work (the tour is entitled “Brit Floyd – 50 Years of Dark Side,” after all). Brit Floyd played nearly the entirety of that album, save for “Any Color You Like.” This allowed them to stretch out into some of the nooks and crannies of the Floyd catalog.
Of particular note from the Dark Side songs was the vocal work by Avila on “The Great Gig in the Sky.” Avila, the champion of Canadian Idol in 2006, hit nearly a note-for-note rendition of the soaring vocals in that difficult tune. It brought the first of many standing ovations from the sold-out REH crowd and Avila demonstrated her appreciation to the crowd and the gentlemen in the band in receiving the accolades.
Please see our interview with Ian Cattell of Brit Floyd HERE
The excellence would continue as Darlington and Brit Floyd took listeners into the weeds with some of the musical selections. “What Do You Want from Me” (from The Division Bell) was a particularly stirring rendition early in the show, but the band seemed to hit their groove on the lengthy “Pigs” (Animals) just before the intermission came. Even the late Syd Barrett, the troubled genius behind much of Pink Floyd’s early work, was given his due with “See Emily Play” (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn).
Impeccable Musicianship, Stunning Visuals a Staple of the Show
Throughout the entirety of the two-hour-plus show, the impeccable musicianship and stunning visuals, both staples of Pink Floyd’s career, were demonstrated by Brit Floyd. The triumvirate of Darlington, Cattell, and Scordo ably handled the lyrical works from the Floyd catalog and both Darlington and Scordo were able to masterfully play the intricate guitar work of Floyd maestro David Gilmour. Riddle and Saranich created the mood through their efforts on the keyboards and synthesizers, while Ahmun and Cooke provided the backbeat to the proceedings very well.
What was particularly surprising about Brit Floyd was the passion that the band put into their efforts and the occasional “artistic licenses” that the individual players would take. Darlington is extremely knowledgeable about the Floyd legacy and treats that work with a huge amount of respect, but he and Scordo would demonstrate some guitar fluency of their own with adventurous solos in the well-known songs. It all blends into a journey into the world of Pink Floyd from musicians who are more than qualified to handle the masterpieces.
If you’re one of those, like me, that shied away from “tribute bands,” you’d be doing yourself a disservice by passing by Brit Floyd if they come to your area. The show is impeccably done, with stunning visuals and a light show that add tremendously to the program, and you will be well-entertained with the overall effort. It makes me wonder – have I been missing out on OTHER great “tribute acts” because of my own biases?
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