I’ve been following The Floyd since before they were The Floyd.
As often happens in the world of band politics, things change. Their makeup evolved and morphed into what would, after a little more morphing become The Floyd that we have today.
After the show I told band member Vince Gates that I didn’t think it was possible, but they keep getting better. This is the band’s ninth sellout in a row, and their third consecutive sellout at Cargo.
That is pretty impressive. And to think we, in the Reno / Carson City area can call them our own hometown band is a source of great pride.
Their show last week started with a warmup by some of our other local shining stars. Tyler Stafford played Pigs on The Wing. Then Joel Ackerson of The Novelists and Grace Larkins came out and played Mother together. To close this intro set they were joined by Eric Anderson, also of The Novelists, and Kate Cotter for “Goodbye Blue Sky.”
And then it was show time!
The band kicked it off with ‘In The Flesh’ from The Wall. Multi-instrumentalist Jeff Laakso donned a military cap and aviator glasses and became Pink from The Wall and busted out in song with “So ya thought ya might like to go to the show”.
They couldn’t have started it off better. Jeff was absolutely mesmerizing in his unabashed and lighthearted presentation of Pink as he navigated the stage, getting in Curt, Vince and Lisa’s faces while he played the role, making them laugh at his portrayal.
It made me wonder if he was improving his performance. Whatever the case he owned it. This was a different guy than I remember seeing last year when he was more in the background just playing his instruments.
From here it was off to Dogs 1, Happiest Days of Our Lives and Brick in The Wall with Vince Gates showing off his vocal range with stellar results. Smooth as smooth can be, he hit every note all night.
The precision with which The Floyd executes these classic Pink Floyd songs is breathtaking. They are not easy to pull off with the exactness that The Floyd achieves.
Playing Pink Floyd material in all its blazing glory is no easy task. To capture the attention of an audience for two hours takes a lot of work, and a lot of talent. Rob Lawrence sits partially hidden in the back playing the keyboards, following musical scores and introducing all the Floyd effects that make it Floyd.
Up front you have Curt Mitchell with amazing guitar work, slide guitar and vocals. Peering out from under his Boston ball cap he lights up the room with screaming guitar runs that are both improvisational and note for note Pink Floyd with no shortage of energy.
The previously mentioned Jeff Laakso sings, plays keyboards, tenor and baritone saxophones, and guitar. He absolutely shines on his saxophone solos adding that Dick Parry angle that’s so essential. Lisa McCuiston plays bass, guitar (you can’t have too many guitar players in the band), percussion, and owns it on her vocals. Pink Floyd typically had three female singers. Lisa is all three in one.
Without a doubt one of the highlights of every The Floyd show is her performance of The Great Gig In The Sky. If she was any more passionate in its execution she might explode. (The vocal solo in question was originally improvised by Clare Torry, who was brought in on Alan Parsons recommendation, in three takes. Eventually she was given writing credit for the solo.)
Buried deep in the back, on a riser, hidden behind mountains of drums and cymbals is Dean Rossi. Dean is a primal force on percussion, pounding out Nick Masons rhythms in true Floydian style.
Dean has a huge job in keeping everybody else on track. He can be seen frequently counting the band in to the next change (or slipping into a state of rapture).
Front and center is the leader of the pack, lead singer, guitar player and bass player, Vincent Gates. His vocal range goes from the sweet sadness required for Goodbye Cruel World to the painful suffering of Comfortably Numb.
Vince’s skill at reproducing classic Pink Floyd riffs throughout the show is an essential element to making you feel like you are at a Pink Floyd show.
To me it seems like the level of comfort and fun on stage has risen exponentially from previous shows I’ve seen. Whether it’s because this configuration of The Floyd has been together that much longer, or they’ve gotten to be that much closer to each other as a band and as friends, or they’ve got this down to an art that just flows, I don’t know, but it works. They all seemed more loose and comfortable. Lots of laughing and smiling.
Vince even had a stool! Shine on my friends.
- Todd Rold – Sound Engineer, (Quadraphonic)
- Justin Bell – Cargo House Lighting Engineer, Creative and Programming
- Ed Collins – Lighting Director for The Floyd, all venues except Cargo.
- Jennifer Miller – Video Director aka ‘the button pusher’
- Lasers – UV99 Mathew & Kathryn Raftery Stage Manager – Frank Brock
- Additional crew – Tim Ranalla & Craig Law
- Dean Rossi – Executive Technical Director and Coordination, Show Content and Creative
- In The Flesh
- Dogs 1
- Brick in the Wall 1
- Happiest Days of Our Lives
- Brick in the Wall 2
- Brick in the Wall 3
- Goodbye Cruel World
- Time / Breathe Reprise
- Great Gig in The Sky
- Have a Cigar
- Wish You Were Here
- Us and Them
- Any Colour You Like
- Brain Damage
- Empty Spaces
- Young Lust
- Run Like Hell
- Comfortably Numb
- Dogs 2
Nick McCabe is a Reno-based photojournalist and musician. He’s been shooting concerts in the Reno-Tahoe area since 2006 and writing articles and reviews since 2012, as well as doing interviews on occasion. His musical education and playing experience goes back to 1967. He is a founding member of the Reno Tahoe Forte’ Awards, and he still plays music locally for enjoyment. First concert: Jimi Hendrix. Last concert: we’ll see.