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Published: 2001/12/29
by Dan Greenhaus

The Machine, B.B. KIng’s, NYC- 12/27

Many people have taken exception to my writing reviews of cover bands,
however I don't see the issue the same way as them. To me, playing music
live is playing music live, and whether or not it was written by a particular
group of performers does not always have to be my main
concern. A cover band practices and performs on stage as would any other
band, and while they don't have to write their own songs, there is a certain level of
expectation that must be lived up to in order to avoid embarrassment. Yes, The Machine
is a cover band, playing the music of rock revolutionaries Pink Floyd, but this is far from your ordinary
cover band in the respect that they have spent considerable time and money
to replicate the sound of that band. Many people must know this and agree
as BB King's in Times Square was packed. Having seen the band in
Wetlands which was considerably smaller, I was shocked to see so many people
in attendance to see this tribute to, arguably, one of the greatest rock bands
ever.

The band, true to the original, is a four piece, consisting of bass, drums,
guitar and keyboards (lots and lots of keyboards). Unlike the current
incarnation of Pink Floyd, The Machine plays varying setlists that consist
of music spanning the entire history of the group, and the first set had it all. A "One Slip" opener
off "Momentary Lapse of Reason" was my first from this band and, having
heard Pink Floyd do this song, I was very impressed with their interpretation.
Anyone who is familiar with the song can attest to the larger-than-life
sound David Gilmour gets out of his guitar, so replicating it is no easy
task. However the entire band played the song in fine fashion. The
rest of the set consisted mainly of songs off "The Wall" including "Thin
Ice", "Mother", "Another Brick in the Wall II & III" and a set-closing
"Comfortably Numb" which was highlighted by Joe Pascarell's rousing
lead guitar. Other songs included "Have a Cigar" and "Time," however the
songs from The Wall were the stand-outs.

In comparison to the song-oriented first set, the second demonstrated the band's
ability to improvise. After the "Hey You" opener, the group strayed from the
note-perfection form they usually exhibit to play some of their own jams
which emerged out of an incredible "Echoes". The final song on "Meddle,"
"Echoes" is beloved by Floyd fans as it features a strong unity of Roger Waters lyrics and David
Gilmour music, a combination that is lost in later years when Gilmour's music arguably took
a backseat to Roger's lyrics. "Echoes" was superb, and the song's central
jam was brought up extremely well, specifically with help from a grooving
bassline from Adam Price. After peaking, this came down into a brief
drum solo from Todd Cohen which then went into "Set the Controls for the
Heart of the Sun," one of Floyd's darker songs. The band moved nicely in and
out of an E minor jam. This two song segment was the highlight of the
whole night, however the ensuing "Empty Spaces—>Young Lust" was well
received by the crowd as well. Unfortunately, the jam out of "Young Lust" was
executed a little sloppily by the band. I didn't feel as though Neil
Alexander's keys were on the same page as the rest of the group, however they
were able to find themselves and move on to play "Brain Damage—>Eclipse" and "Run Like Hell" to close the set, in which the crowd sang every word.

The principal critique have about the band at this time is its reluctance to
play anything off "The Division Bell," a supremely underrated album.
However, anyone who enjoys the music of Pink Floyd should check out the Machine.
Not only do I disagree with the general notion that cover bands exhibit no creativity or originality,
but I also feel that sometimes we can all take a break from the boundary-pushing music of our
current favorite bands, to take time to remind ourselves of how great the
bands of our youth really were.

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