Pink Floyd fans won’t want to miss one of the most popular tribute bands on the road today that pay homage to the legendary group.
Known as ‘PIGS: Canada’s Most Authentic Pink Floyd Tribute’ the band will be in the City Feb. 22nd to play the Memorial Centre. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.
Their ‘PIGS ON THE WING’ show celebrates the 40th anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd’s 1977 classic album Animals.
“It’s a funny thing because they were never really on my radar when I was younger – they were always my dad’s favourite band,” said Josh Szczepanowski, the band’s lead-guitarist and vocalist. Rounding out the band are Geoff Howe, Adam Basterfield, Mike Quirke, Jon Baglo, Amy Konowalyk and Sharon Driver.
Needless to say, as he heard more of their material, he was won over. “That’s where I turned the corner,” he laughed, adding he was in his early 20s at the time and immersed in post-secondary studies.
As the David Gilmour for Pigs, Szczepanowski is the musical director and has the final say where set lists, gear choices and stage directions are concerned. “At the time, my best friend and I had our own band,” he explained of the time prior to forming the tribute band. “We had just gotten some new members, and our bass player at the time had to go on tour. So we didn’t really have anything to do. Right at that moment, through some sort of weird fluke, I won tickets to see a different Pink Floyd act who aren’t around any more.
“I went to see them and I hated it. Obviously they were talented, but it was presented in such a way that it was kind of cheesy. It didn’t seem real – it didn’t seem like a real band playing. It was like a jukebox sort of thing.
“For whatever reason, I just thought, well, we could do that. And we could do it better. And we decided, well let’s do it!”
That was back in 2008 and the band was a smash pretty much from the start. For their very first show, some 140 people were lined up outside the venue unable to snap up tickets. “We thought, okay – we’ve got something here.”
Szczepanowski said over the years, it’s at times been something of a challenge putting a given show together as many of Pink Floyd’s songs are rather lengthy – so to fit the hits into a single concert proved tough.
“Of course you want to play the hits that people are expecting – you can’t really do a show without playing Money or Wish You Were Here. But the problem is that most of the Floyd songs are so long – by the time you play all of the hits, there isn’t a lot of room left for putting in some other things. So it can be quite difficult to build a set list that makes sense.”
These days, the band presents Floyd largely as they were on the ‘77 tour. “That’s the version that we do,” he said. “So we try to put together lists that make sense in that context.”
Meanwhile, one of the band’s heaviest and most political statements, the concept album Animals has become a favourite for legions of fans, and the band will be performing the album in its entirety, in addition to material from across the band’s legendary repertoire.
“Since we approach it like a real band, we play the songs like they were ours. So we have to have a set list that flows like a real show.”
A striking sense of authenticity is obviously not an accident. Loads of work and meticulous research has gone into recreating that utterly unique Pink Floyd experience.
The lights, lasers, giant screen, and live sound come together to recreate the experience of seeing Pink Floyd live in the 1970s.
Indeed, PIGS’ claim to fame is their authenticity. According to a release, every last detail of the look, sound, and feel of Pink Floyd’s classic era is worked out and perfected and each band member assumes the role of their Floyd counterpart.
“I would be really surprised at this point if there was anybody who knew more about that stuff then I did,” he said with a laugh. “We really dive right in and have done all of the research and talked to all of the people and we’ve done everything we can to be as authentic as possible.
“That comes down to watching all of the footage we can and listening to everything we can, reading everything we can and trying to talk to people who had seen them or worked with them before – really just everything we can do.
“I really like getting the equipment and things dialed in as perfectly as possible. I really enjoy chasing down the smallest little details to make sure that we are exactly right.”
With the passing of keyboardist Richard Wright in 2008, fans of Pink Floyd lost hope of ever again seeing their favourite band re-united. PIGS offer the next best thing – an authentic look back into the breathtaking past of one of the world’s most timeless bands.
“They certainly did endure what I think would ruin most bands. They went through essentially three main lead singers and songwriters through their career and still managed to keep and audience and to keep everything together,” he explained. “I think a lot of it is that they were speaking to something that is timeless – the whole point of Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here and of course Animals is they sort of speak to the human condition.
“They’re speaking to the fears and the worries and the concerns that everybody has. That’s sort of what the songs are all about. That’s something that continues to resonate and I think it will forever basically.”
For tickets, call 1-800-661-8793 or go online to www.blackknightinn.ca.