The Machine, Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA – 6/12
As the lights fall on a packed to capacity Keswick Theatre, in the historic Pennsylvania village of Glenside, The Machine, arguably Americas best Pink Floyd tribute band, emerges underneath the psychedelic lights beginning to take life with their dazzling displays of color and motion. Simultaneously, the seating lights dim, and the slow but steady heartbeat of Speak to Me invades the cacophony of an audience busy searching for seats, and far more pressingly, cup holders for their beer. The opening cut of The Dark Side of the Moon met with a thunderous applause, as Joe Pascarell, the main vocalist, guitarist, and de facto leader of the troop, begins the journey of helming his band through the entirety of four epic works by the forefathers of auditory psychedelia.
Dark Side proves the most precise of the evening, inducing personal moments of wonder if perhaps the album itself was playing over the speakers. Rest assured it was The Machine, more than just flawlessly replicating the sounds of the original tunes, but also themselves imbuing this major work of Pink Floyds canon with their own interpretations. Pascarell, whose voice was almost indistinguishable from David Gilmours, however, proved more adventurous with his guitar, taking liberties throughout key solos in Time and Money, though never at the exclusion of key notes and fan-favorite runs first penned by Gilmour.
Exploring further through the following album, Wish You Were Here, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part 2) would evolve into a purely Machine jam. It presented the first true glimpse of the band that lay just beneath the Pink Floyd veneer, and warmed my jambandian heart. To the purists in attendance, however, the rest of the album remained true to form, including the intangible personality that filled the original Pink Floyd numbers. The ominous swirl of Welcome to the Machine was aptly provided for by Scott Chasolens shape-shifting keys, constantly adorning different personas as called for. The forlorn, singularity of Wish You Were Here, was captured by Ryan Ball, the bassist dawning an acoustic for the numbers opening measures.
But on Animals, the band stumbled, running into technical difficulties on the epic, Dogs. Just as the song builds to the point of intolerable tension, usually released by a single note of serrated guitar, Pascarells distortions cut out, instead unleashing an anemic squeak. It was the stuff of talent show nightmares, and rather jarring to the overall mood of the album, if not the evening. But upon return, with difficulties corrected, Pascarells guitar tone was set to such a savage notch, that all was forgiven within moments of playing that sublime note at the very core of Dogs, even compelling the audience to their feet with a renewed excitement.
The evenings greatest moments included a band wide peak during Sheep, which proved so dripping with rockdom as to conjure the very presence of the band adorning so many of the authentic Pink Floyd tour shirts worn by the largely middle-aged audience. Equally as transcendent, was an astonishing performance during The Great Gig in the Sky, which featured a female vocal lead that, at times, surpassed the original laid down by Clare Torry, and proved utterly deserving of the theatre wide standing ovation it received. Finally, an encore in which The Machine played the marathon, 20 min Echoes, provided, perhaps, a less familiar bit of Pink Floyd to listeners surprised to find they, in fact, hadnt heard it all before. Welcome, my friend, to The Machine.