The Machine, B.B. King Blues Club and Grill, NYC- 12/29
Entering BB Kings for The Machine show, I had the pleasure of doing something I don’t always do; I ate dinner there. Truth be told, the food has never been all that bad (in the main room at least), but Times Square prices surely prevent many from enjoying the food and securing prime seating for bands where dancing isn’t necessarily the sport of choice. What’s weird is you wouldn’t ever think of Pink Floyd music as being “danceable” per se, and yet every time The Machine pulls into town the dance floor is more packed than anywhere else. But eating afforded me the luxury of meeting several groups of people who have seen the band multiple times, and who were every bit as excited as I was, regardless of how many times I’ve seen this band.
So when the band took the stage and appropriately opened with “Welcome to the Machine,” there was a fully packed crowd waiting to greet them enthusiastically, and greet them they did. Many who relegate “cover bands” or tribute bands to second tier status with respect to their live concert attendance plans, are forever doing an injustice to their own enjoyment, and The Machine is no exception. Where else are you going to hear a band play both “Mother” and “Coming Back To Life” in the same set?
At this point, people know full well that the band is capable of recreating your favorite Pink Floyd songs almost note for note, and singer Joe Pascarell comes as close to recreating the voices of BOTH Roger Waters and David Gilmour as you are going to hear, often in the same song. While many would say you can close your eyes and picture either frontman singing (That’s how good Joe’s voice can be), it is the musical recreations that bring fans back. Whether it is Joe’s absolutely stunning guitar work, or keyboardist Neil Alexander’s mastery of his various keyboards, any one of the band members is able to draw your attention, and hold it.
And this ability was never more evident than during the second set’s centerpiece, “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” featuring guest Norbert Stachel, no less than Roger Waters’ own sax player (who absolutely killed “Money”). With all five musicians on stage, “Set the Controls” was taken to places nobody has seen unless you were present in the UFO club in 1968. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; The Machine’s ability to take Pink Floyd’s music to its outer limits is among the most incredible live musical experiences one can have. I would do nothing short of beg the band to play a show or two with ONLY jamming, if for no other reason than to freshen things up for them, but also to put their musical abilities on full display, as if this night’s version of stunning version of “Dogs” didn’t already do that.
People say Aretha Franklin has the voice of God. While that might be true, if God was in a band, I doubt they could play “Dogs” as well as this band.
You have to see it to believe it.