The Machine, North Fork Theatre, Westbury, NY- 3/31
Mapquest does not work in New York. I have known this for a while, but for some reason I just keep going back for more. But thanks to the kindness of several Long Island gas station attendants, I eventually made it to the North Fork Theatre to see The Machine.
From the lobby, the venue felt more like a movie theater then a concert setting; much different from the clubs I’ve typically seen the band play in, but this was a different kind of Machine show. Tonight The Machine started their tribute to Pink Floyd with an acoustic set, joined by Jason D’Mateo on the stand-up bass. They opened the show with “Fearless,” a crowd favorite, especially among the more hard-core Floyd fans. The acoustic dynamic of the first set presented The Machine as much more laid back then usual, and this worked for the seated venue and more subdued light show. The opening set ranged from familiar Floyd classics like “Mother” to lesser-known songs such as Meddle’s “Seamus”. They even reached into the obscure with “The Gnome”, a virtual lesson in quirky British psychedelia from Floyd’s first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Through the impressive musicianship of each of the band members, both individually and as a whole, the first set showed a different side of The Machine and a fresh interpretation of Pink Floyd’s music.
For the second set, The Machine was joined by Norbert Stachel on saxophone who toured with Roger Waters during his In the Flesh tour. The band settled back into their louder side and the crowd caught the vibe, giving standing ovations for several of the songs. It’s difficult to narrow down the highlights, but three songs in particular stood out. One of which was “Astronomy Domine”. The band jammed this Barrett-era freak out down to its most basic elements. Then drummer Todd Cohen led the build up with an intense solo. The drums were as equally eye-dilating for “Saucerful of Secrets.” I’m going to go out on a limb here, and at the risk of offending retired British philosophy professors and seventeen-year-old stoners everywhere, I’ll say that The Machine plays this better then Floyd ever did. They lean more towards the live Ummagumma version of “Saucer” and less towards the studio cut by maintaining a very heavy rhythm section throughout and having one person sing the vocal melody as opposed to the distantly ethereal chorus on the album. The vocals of The Machine’s lead singer, Joe Pascarell, can be even more melodic then Gilmour’s at times. This really comes through on “Saucerful of Secrets” and the always emotionally delivered title track from The Final Cut.
Throughout the night, The Machine jumped between decades, genres and eras of Floyd’s music and tied it all together through jams much less cacophonous then the early and Barrett era breakdowns. The thread of continuity between eras came from the upbeat jazz vibe courtesy of Stachel. I think I even caught a nod towards Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things” during ”Welcome to the Machine.” He would casually walk on stage, jump in, tear it up and casually walk off. But what makes The Machine so solid as a band is not their ability to recreate or emulate Pink Floyd but the way that they make the music their own and cause even the most avid fans to rediscover it. And like usual, they played the hell out of those songs.