Savage Henry's Wish We Were Floyd Friday, April 18, 2008 Gothic Theatre Better Than: Sparking a fatty and synching up Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz.
Dead on and flawless. That’s about the most fitting description I can come up with for Wish We Were Floyd, Savage Henry’s ambitious production this past Friday night at the Gothic.
Tribute shows, by nature, come with a set of unspoken expections: Folks who go to these types of gigs – unless, of course, we’re speaking of acts summoning the Grateful Dead, an outfit known for its improv – don’t want to hear any sort of deviation. None. Unlike, say, cover bands, who are given leeway to color outside the lines, tribute fans aren’t looking for the band to make the songs their own. This music is the soundtrack of their life. They know every line of every song – even the subtle nuances – and expect to hear the tunes played exactly as they were recorded.
To that end, the four members of Savage Henry (frontman Damon Guerrasio, bassist John Jeffers and guitarists Stu Miller and Glen Esparza) and their guests (drummer Jay Ruybal, keyboardist and vocalist Dave Wruck, vocalist Kate Shoup and keyboardist/saxman Kurt Moorehead) obliged. From the perfectly placed signature samples and Ruybal’s rolls on the rotos at the beginning of “Time,” to Guerrarsio’s exceptional vocals, augmented by Shoup’s divalicious wailing, and Miller and Esparza’s impressive note-for-note leads, Wish We Were Floyd offered a spot-on replication of the brightest spots in the Floyd catalog – twenty-five songs pulled from seven albums, to be exact.
Even so, that still wasn’t quite enough for everybody. A semi-intoxicated dude, clearly a card-carrying Floyd completest, was overheard grumbling about how predictable the set list was and bemoaning the fact that the band didn’t opt to include “Fearless” from Meddle. A glaring omission, as far as he was concerned -- even though no one else seemed to notice its absence.
What's more, that was about the only thing overlooked. Otherwise, the group clearly paid as much attention to detail visually as it had sonically. Taking the stage in black jumpsuits outfitted with the crossed hammer patches on the breast pocket, Guerrasio and company were flanked by giant cardboard cutouts of clocks and stood in front of a large circular screen onto which various Floydian images were projected throughout the set. Granted, there weren’t any giant inflatable pigs hovering high above the Gothic, but the outfit did an absolutely fine job with what they had.
Overall, I’d have to say, next to Polytoxic’s annual Thanksgiving eve Last Waltz revival, this is probably the best and most ambitious tribute show in town.
-- Dave Herrera
Personal Bias: I’m a huge Floyd fan. There was very little chance that I wouldn’t dig this show.
Random Detail: This was the sixth production of Wish We Were Floyd. The first one took place at Red Rocks on Tuesday, July 25, 2006. To pull this show off, it takes eight musicians, a four-man tech crew, a lighting tech and a dedicated sound man – oh, yeah, and eighty hours of rehearsals.
By the Way: Word has it the next show probably won’t happen until this fall and will probably sell out quickly. This gig drew nearly 700 people.
Set List: One of These Days In the Flesh Learning to Fly Time Have a Cigar Wish You Were Here High Hopes Young Lust Money Childhood’s End Great Gig In the Sky Shine On You Crazy Diamond Us and Them Mother One Slip What Do You Want From Me? Pigs Speak to Me/Breathe (Breathe in the Air) Comfortably Numb The Thin Ice Run Like Hell The Happiest Days of Our Lives Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) Brain Damage Eclipse