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Wish you were here 

Take a journey to the dark side of the moon and through the gates of dawn with The Pink Floyd Experience

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS
  • PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS

The Pink Floyd Experience—a vessel of sound and light piloted by six musicians, a flying pink pig at the bow—took its maiden voyage in Calgary in 2003. Tom Quinn was on board as lead guitarist and bandleader, along with several other performers who comprised a San Diego-based Pink Floyd cover band. Five and a half years later, several of the original band members have fallen by the wayside, not unlike the original and authentic Pink Floyd band. Quinn, bass guitarist Gus Beaudoin, and lead vocalist Graham Heath are all who remain from the original group, though the infusion of saxophonist Jesse Molloy, John Cox on the keyboards, and percussionist John Staten completes the Pink Floyd family.

But when the group is on tour—around three times a year, at five and a half weeks per stint—the bus is laden, not with six, but a baker’s dozen. After all, The Pink Floyd Experience simply wouldn’t be complete without the end-of-the-world light show running on 270,000 watts of power. And the rosy pig, of course. Bringing these production elements to life on stage requires a tour manager, two light techs, a duo of sound techs, and one video tech. It would, of course, be a significant breach of etiquette to disregard the bus driver, a faithful and consistent pilot.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS
  • PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS
For Quinn, an adamant David Gilmour fan who purchased his first guitar and joined his first band the year The Dark Side of the Moon was released, the music can stand on its own. When Annerin Productions first sought a cover band to star in The Pink Floyd Experience, Quinn and his band had already been rocking audiences in San Diego for nearly a decade.

“We knocked them dead without all the production elements,” he insisted. “Just with the music. At the end of each gig we’d all pull $10 from our wallets to pay the sound man. We were definitely in it for the music.”

During that inaugural performance, and subsequent tours, the band played it safe musically, sticking with tried-and-true hits, what Quinn calls “ear candy.” But recently the group decided to expand its song list to include more obscure works, including songs from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and A Saucerful of Secrets. And Quinn loves them all, describing individual songs as adopted children. Of course, for the man whose personal motto is “What would David Gilmour do?” any music that does justice to Gilmour’s talent is bound to be a favorite.

Their current tour began on Jan. 28 and will conclude on March 13 at the Los Angeles Orpheum, but the highlight is undoubtedly a March 12 gig at the PAC.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS
  • PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS
Annerin Productions’ goal with The Pink Floyd Experience is to capture the mood and energy of larger-than-life stadium shows of the ’70s, ’80s, and early ’90s in a more intimate, theater setting, making the PAC an ideal venue. Smaller theaters can’t always accommodate the flamboyant light display, while colossal venues lack the intimate element. The final product, neatly packaged and awash in vibrant beams of light, attracts fans in unexpected places. The majority of the musicians reside in San Diego, the production staff hails from Calgary, and the light show is from Alberta. The troupe has performed across North America, identifying the strongest fan base in the Midwest, portions of Canada, and—inexplicably—Florida. They rarely appear on the West Coast, but are planning, with fingers crossed, their first tour of South America.

While Quinn, not to mention the many fans of the original group, is enjoying the ride, he has to maintain a level head. He was playing Pink Floyd long before The Pink Floyd Experience came along, and his admiration for Gilmour will continue long afterward. Stars can frighten, but time can’t extinguish the flame of a true Pink Floyd fan.

“It could end at any minute,” Quinn acknowledged. “You never know if your next show is going to be your last. But the sky’s the limit here.” ∆

Arts Editor Ashley Schwellenbach once visited Atlantis, but never the moon. Send space boots to aschwellenbach@newtimesslo.com.

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