Gilmour’s Breakfast left their hometown of Worcester last night to take on The Beach House in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. This six-piece Pink Floyd tribute band rocked their Rhode Island fans and likely made some new ones. Using only a fraction of their stage effects, Gilmour’s Breakfast focused mainly on channeling the musical vibe of a Pink Floyd concert. The Beach House is a wide open room, spacious, with the ceiling not too high, not too low. The sound traveled well through out the three hour show.
Like the best tribute bands, Gilmour’s Breakfast is made up of high caliber musicians who know the music cold. They also know what Pink Floyd was all about lyrically. They took pains to make sure each song captured the mood as it was intended 30 to 40 years ago.
Gilmour’s Breakfast is fronted by lead vocalist Rob Taylor, a mildly charismatic singer who knows how to deliver Floyd’s lyrics with low register intensity or upper register dynamics. On “Happiest Days Of Our Lives/Another Brick In The Wall Part 2,” Taylor imitated the stern school teacher before singing about the disturbing authoritative abuse in the 1940s British school system, all in a voice that was part talent and part insight. Again, this band knows how to channel Pink Floyd’s creative vision.
“One Of These Days,” with its swirls of organ notes and chords, crashing cymbals, and throbbing bass line, built a towering arc of sound. The lap pedal steel guitar, played by Martin Stewart, came in with precise dissonance and drive, like a vehicle that could drive over any terrain. Second guitarist Dan Whitenact, had plenty of moments to shine in lead guitar phrases too. He played nimble, brittle, high octave leads during the majestic sweep of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”
Taylor gets some more points for his haunted vocal on “Welcome To The Machine,” a Floyd warning song about the spiritual danger of living one’s life within a tightly constructed framework. He worked up the repressed anxiety of living life without a singular purpose. Taylor could also hold a note, as he did on “Have A Cigar.”
Gilmour’s Breakfast mellowed it out with the exquisite acoustic guitar song “Wish You Were Here,” evoking that forlorn feeling of reminiscing about someone while lamenting that person’s absence. Sliding into another acoustic gem, “Fearless” from the Meddle album, the band continued channeling the softer side of Floyd’s music.
“Pigs (Three Different Ones)” from Animals rocked with edge, guitars winding around the earthy groove and spacey keyboard melodies. At this point, a couple from the crowd started ballroom dancing, and it was oddly appropriate for a Pink Floyd tribute, as anything goes with the original Floyd. The album cover photo of A Collection Of Great Dance Songs showed a couple ballroom dancing. There was, however, no flying inflatable pig floating overhead.
A rare treat was seeing a live band perform “See Emily Play” from the 1967 Piper At The Gates Of Dawn album. The song rocks live. Gilmour’s Breakfast jumped right into this number with rock and roll energy, breathing new life into this tune that was originally recorded on fairly primitive studio equipment. The old fashioned farfisa organ, played by Ed Hannon, blended right in with the 1960s style rock drums, guitars, and bass, and the number provided a glimpse into Pink Floyd’s late 60s London club scene popularity.
“Comfortably Numb” was a slow burner with psychedelic overtures, and it was one of many slower Floyd tunes last night that eventually lead to an exciting climax, a lead guitar phrase burning its way down a wick to a thumping rhythm section to ignite a rock and roll explosion.
More Floyd fans appeared out of nowhere for the second set. Gilmour’s Breakfast started it with “Breathe” from the Dark Side Of The Moon album, which played out with carefree, jazzy exuberance. The vocal harmonies were beautiful and perfect and was well-orchestrated. Segue into “Time” and another Floyd classic was well done. Drummer Peter Dayotas, a burly fellow who knows how to beat enough oomph out of his set, nailed the backbeat/heartbeat effect. A small set of drums at front man Taylor’s disposal created a lot of extra fills and rolls.
Gilmour’s Breakfast even had the guts to tackle “Great Gig In The Sky,” with help from a gorgeous guest singer named Robin Soares, lead singer from Rhode Island cover band 5 Flavor Discount. Wailing soulfully at her microphone like there was no tomorrow, Soares sounded part gospel singer, part R&B chanteuse. Her notes kept getting higher and higher and more and more sustained and she rode it well.
“Money,” the definitive Floyd classic, started with the memorable bass riff, played by Bob Cooper that rolls out the song and rolls into at the same time. Cooper is a sophisticated bassist who knows when to move with the groove and when to get busier and more melodic. “Money” eventually burst into a manageable jam, with Matt Swanton’s sax blistering with bluesy energy, guitars wailing.
“Us And Them,” with its old fashioned R&B slow dance groove, pulled couples into slow dancing and singles into a hippie freestyle sway. Jazzy piano and a mild, forlorn saxophone gave this song an extra touch of grace. “Brain Damage” began with light, tender guitar expressions and gentle organ chords before the band built into a huge, high-powered orchestrated arc. Gilmour’s Breakfast closed out by playing “Echoes I” and “Echoes II” in their entirety. And they got every nuance and mood just right.
Gilmour’s Breakfast belonged more in a small, intimate theater than a nightclub, although The Beach House has accommodating acoustics. This tribute is more of a showcase of talent than personalities and it should be housed somewhere Pink Floyd fans can gather and enjoy the seriousness of rock and roll’s most popular and most impressive artsy, progressive group. Other than that caveat, the only thing left to say about Gilmour’s Breakfast is go check them out right away.