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Published: 2001/08/20
by Dan Greenhaus

The Machine, Wetlands- 8/17

"Give a man a guitar, and he doesn't become Eric Clapton"—Roger Waters

In 1966, Pink Floyd were the kings of the London Underground club scene, not
too unlike today's "jamband" scene. Frequently handing out tabs of
acid at the door to their shows, their live shows had become a must-see for
miles around as their revolutionary use of lights and pyrotechnics, unheard
of at the time, inspired many London kids to change their way of thinking
regarding the strict London authority.

With that in mind, the much anticipated return of The Machine to Wetlands
signaled the beginning of the end for the fabled club. The first in a long
line of spectacular shows in the coming weeks had fans of all ages packing
the club to hear songs created by one of the most beloved and underrated
bands at one of the most beloved and celebrated venues.
Possessing brilliant lyrics about everything from schoolyard bullies to
political leaders, and stunning music to match, Pink Floyd has written some inspiring
and compelling music. The Machine were here to remind us of that fact.

The club was packed with everyone from high school kids sporting Dark Side
t-shirts, to adults who had obviously been listening to Floyd for twenty
years. They all screamed with delight when the Machine took the stage at
11:30 and opened with the rocking "Have a Cigar," getting the show off on the
right foot. Proving that they were able to play more than the popular
radio songs, "Astronomy Domine," off the band's very first album in 1967,
followed with stunning precision. Pink Floyd have several
different styles of music ranging from arty-psychedelia to straight ahead
rock and The Machine are more than capable of playing all of them. "Shine on
you Crazy Diamond" was a highlight of the first set, with an amazing jam to
exit the song. Guitarist and lead vocalist Joe Pascarell is equally adept
and singing either Roger Waters or David Gilmour and he showed it on this
song, where both legendary members of Floyd sing. The entire first set was
littered with Floyd classics, including a complete version of the opus
"Dogs," a knock on the businessman that Floyd were coming in contact with at
the time. Although it is easy to focus on Joe, Floyd is the type of band
that requires a stellar piano player, and Neil Alexander more than lives up
to the part, and brings the necessary equipment taboot. Playing several
pianos, he is more the capable of playing Richard Wright's parts, and his
talents were showcased on "Dogs."

The second set began with "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun", one of
the most psychedelic songs in Pink Floyd's hefty arsenal. Joined by a
violin player, the song was well played, but didn't have the punch that the
Machine usual deliver with this song. Todd Cohen's drums were right on point
as usual, but I felt the violin was holding the band back. Again, the second
set with jam packed with classics, but none reached the peak of "Echoes," the
off the band's epic album "Meddle". Ryan Ball's bass anchored the song, allowing Joe and Neil to explore some
layering and jams that a majority of the songs prohibited. The middle
section of the song somehow ended up in "Empty Spaces," the version in the
movie, which went right into "Young Lust," one of the most popular Floyd
songs. The song was rocking hard and even contained a jam at the end that
Pink Floyd never played.

The Machine's final appearance at Wetlands was a knockout, and it was special
treat as the band is in semi-retirement. I chatted briefly with Neil Alexander who
confirmed with me that the group was not done, but that gigs would be scattered at
best. In fact, the only scheduled show on the horizon is one on the day
after Thanksgiving in Philly. For one night at least, the spirit of Pink
Floyd lived at the Wetlands, giving fans a taste of what one of the best hard
rock bands might have sounded like for those of us who weren't there twenty five years ago.

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