The Dark Side of the Moon Down Under with The Australian Pink … – Worcester Mag

When the Australian Pink Floyd Show came to Manchester University in Manchester, England, a few years ago, Chris Barnes was in the audience, and said he was “blown away” by the group’s performance.
That has evidently been the reaction of many Pink Floyd fans — and people who aren’t fans, per se, but love good prog rock — to The Australian Pink Floyd Show since it first performed in Adelaide in 1988. Since then, the band has performed in over 35 countries and was invited to play at Pink Floyd member David Gilmour’s 50th birthday celebration in 1996.
What Barnes didn’t envision was that he, a Mancunian (as people from Manchester are known), would eventually be up on stage performing as lead vocalist for The Australian Pink Floyd Show — an Aussie Floyd burning through “Money.”
Barnes will be at The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts Sunday when the Australian Pink Floyd Show group performs as part of its Darkside 50 Tour, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” album in 1973.
“The Dark Side of the Moon” will be performed in its entirety, note for note, along with a selection of Pink Floyd’s iconic tracks spanning the band’s history. Expect a lavish production, in keeping with Pink Floyd tradition, including a big video screen, light show, inflatables, lasers and smoke.
The tour has been going well, Barnes said during a recent telephone interview, speaking with an earnest English, and not an Aussie, accent.
“Obviously, if you’re playing ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ it’s one of the best-known albums of all time. It’s just wonderful music to play as a piece,” Barnes said.
“I sing the lead vocals on quite a lot of the set,” he said. There are also vocal harmonies with other band members.
The brooding, atmospheric album about the pressures of life and the fear of death was described by Rolling Stone magazine in its 1973 review as one extended work, rather than individual songs.
In any case, it hit a global nerve and remains one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Pink Floyd formed in Great Britain in 1965 and initially consisted of Syd Barrett (guitar, lead vocals), Nick Mason (drums), Roger Waters (bass guitar, vocals) and Richard Wright (keyboards, vocals). Barrett led the band in its early psychedelic explorations, but left in 1968, the same year guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour joined. Barrett died in 2006; and Wright in 2008.
In the audience at The Hanover Theatre show may be concert goers who’ve never seen or heard “The Dark Side of the Moon” performed live. There may also be some who’ve never the heard the album at all. “There are newbies, which is great to see,” Barnes said.
For Barnes, the newbie experience of Pink Floyd came when he was about 5 or 6 and he shared a room with his brother. A cousin visiting the house left behind an album titled “Relics,” a compilation of some of Pink Floyd’s earlier hits.
The brothers played “Relics” in their room. The first track is “Arnold Layne,” written by Barrett and Pink Floyd’s first-ever single and an interesting song in and of itself. “I kind of liked it,” Barnes said.
But the second track, “Interstellar Overdrive,” written by Barrett, Waters, Wright and Mason, is an almost 10-minute, all-instrumental, surging, psychedelic, improvisation on a principal melody. The piece thunders and flickers and thunders again.
“It scared the living daylights out of me,” Barnes said. “I wanted to skip it.”
Still, something stirred within him. When he saw the filmed version of Pink Floyd’s “Live at Pompeii ” on television a little later, “That was it. I never looked back.”
A grown Barnes ran a children’s music workshop in Manchester, teaching children to play instruments and perform as a band. Besides being a singer, Barnes can play guitar, bass, drums and keyboards.
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Meanwhile, the band members of The Australian Pink Floyd Show had moved their base from Australia to the United Kingdom. In fact, one of the children in Barnes’ music workshop was the daughter of The Australian Pink Floyd Show drummer, Paul Bonney.
When the band played in Manchester, Barnes recognized Bonney. Afterward, they started talking and Barnes got to now other group members. When performing in the area, Australian Pink Floyd Show enlisted children from the workshop for “Another Brick in the Wall,” known for its school-kid chorus, “We don’t need no education.”
Barnes said at one point, band members asked him if he’d be interested in joining the group should a vacancy arise.
“I got very interested,” Barnes said. It took a while, but he joined the group in 2015. “Eight years later, here I am talking to you.”
The Australian Pink Floyd Show band has had its home base in the United Kingdom for 30 years, Barnes said.
The problem for the band down under that is that the population “is small, and the cities are so far apart,” Barnes said. “Touring is a logistical nightmare.”
But the band is “Australian at its heart,” Barnes said, and has key founding members still performing including Steve Mac (guitar, vocals) and Jason Sawfeld (keyboards).
“There are Australian references through and through (the show).” In addition to an inflatable pig being sent over the audience, something Pink Floyd did in its live shows, The Australian Pink Floyd Show launches an inflatable kangaroo, Barnes said.
Noting members of the original Pink Floyd, Barnes said he met Mason at a book signing in 2004.
“He was lovely. He was so friendly. They just seem to be a very nice bunch of guys. Very reserved. Very English.”
The Australian Pink Floyd Show performs about 100 to 120 shows a year worldwide.
“It kind of takes up six months a year,” Barnes said.
The Darkside 50 Tour is “going down a storm because we’re ticking all the boxes. It’s a full journey,” he said.
“The Dark Side of the Moon” is complemented by a set with early Pink Floyd from the Barrett era to the 1994 album “Division Bell” (Pink Floyd also issued an album in 2014, “The Endless River,” which revisited material recorded during the making of “Division Bell.”)
“We’ve got something from every era in the set,” Barnes said.
But not “Interstellar Overdrive.”
“As a singer I wouldn’t have much to do – make a cup of tea,” Barnes said.
There are other anniversaries coming up for Pink Floyd including the 50th for “Wish You Were” in 2025.
Barnes, in his mid-40s, marveled at 1973, when in addition to “The Dark Side of the Moon,” album releases included “Quadrophenia” by The Who and Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy.”
“I wish I had a time machine. That would have been brilliant,” Barnes said.
Touring with The Australian Pink Floyd, Barnes enters different audience worlds.
“British audiences can be a little more reserved. You American audiences know how to have good time,” he said.
But it’s hard to generalize, he added. In Europe, “France is different to Germany.” In the U.S., “the East Coast is different to the West Coast. The journey is different every night, which makes it interesting as a band.”
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 24
Where: The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester
How much: $39, $49, $62 and $79 depending on seat location. VIP packages available for $179. (877) 571-7469;


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