Blue Floyd is a conglomeration of former/current members of the Allman Bros, Gov't Mule and the Black Crowes doing blues interpretations of Pink Floyd songs. Sound cool? It was.
The Blue Floyd tour began January 14 in Anaheim, CA, and ended February 21 in Chicago. Band members include Marc Ford and Allen Woody on guitars (and Ford on vocals), Berry Oakley Jr. on bass and vocals, Johnny Neel on keys, harp and vocals, and Matt Abts on drums. They played two sets, with no opening act. The Cabooze was full, and since Blue Floyd is a taper-friendly band, the tapers were out in full force, strategically positioning themselves with their mics and taping units.
Blue Floyd started out with a pair from the Wish You Were Here album: the instrumental "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" with Neel taking a bluesy harp solo, and then "Have a Cigar" featuring Oakley on vocals and Neel on a great keyboard solo. And of course, when he got to the "Which one's Pink?" part of the lyrics, he sang, "Which one's Blue?" Neel then played a little piano boogie woogie while some of the others cracked a cold one.
Song number three, "Seamus", went way back to the Meddle album. Neel sang this one, with a cool, gruff delivery, and Ford played a mean slide guitar. That one went into another one from Meddle, "Fearless", which Ford sang. Ford and Woody switched guitars on nearly every song; quite an ax arsenal was visible through the open door to the room next to the stage. The next three songs were all from Dark Side of the Moon. Woody played a pedal steel on "Speak to Me/Breathe in the Air" (Oakley sang), and "Money" was set to a blues groove and would have been almost completely
unrecognizable were it not for the words. The section where the song speeds up seemed to be the turning point of the night: suddenly most heads in the crowd started to bob and thrust forward, and the tune started to become more familiar. "Us and Them" rounded out the trio of songs, with Neel playing an interesting synthesized "sax" solo. The set ended with "Echoes" - not quite as long as the original, but Ford and Woody teamed up for a fantastic Allman Brothers-style dual guitar lead.
Set two began with a drum solo and then a bass-and-drums jam. If you've never had the pleasure of witnessing Matt Abts doin' his thing on drums, check him out when Gov't Mule comes to the Cabooze in April or when Blue Floyd returns (hopefully) this summer. He is simply amazing. The rest of the set included "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun," "Wish You Were Here," "Young Lust," "One of These Days," an encore of "In the Flesh" and then a second encore of "Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2."
I'd highly recommend this show the next time they come through town, which should be June or July ... but buy your tickets in advance or you may not get in! Stay up to date at www.bluefloyd.com.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Ann Wickstrom, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.