The Machine @ Starland Ballroom

The Machine (Doktor John)SAYREVILLE NJ—Yahoo lists 12 Pink Floyd cover or “tribute” bands, including entries from L.A., Germany, Denmark, Canada and the U.K. New York’s own The Machine perform worldwide, but also quite regularly in our area, reviving the classic psychedelic sight and sound experience of this, one of the most beloved bands of all time. Starland Ballroom’s stage provides enough space for TM, their equipment and their lightshow. This night the standing area was filled with the diverse array of adherents that comprise the area’s Pink Floyd ardent fan-base.

The first opening band played a kind of generic ’60s or ’70s rock, and was followed by a hardcore band with raspy, screaming vocals. I didn’t get the names of either.

TM opened their set with “Breathe” from the album Pulse, then “Time” off Dark Side Of The Moon amidst intensely colorful, swirling cones of concentrated light. After another number, they went into one of several instrumental jams featuring the signature distorted bass, spacey vocals and feedback that characterized the sound of PF in its heyday. A pipe organ solo was followed by “Run Like Hell,” then “Welcome To The Machine” with its heavy, pessimistic and philosophical lyrics for which PF are famous, and from which TM obviously take their name. “Have A Cigar” began with a syncopated, galloping rhythm, then lapsed into an extended improvisation in precisely the parent band’s style.

The audience was invited to sing along, naturally, during “Another Brick In The Wall,” which I’m sure was a joyous experience for the passionate and nostalgic PF devotees.

After a break TM returned with what their frontman characterized as a psychedelic set, and the guitarist switched to a 12-string instrument. “Pigs,” “Wish You Were Here” and many lesser-known pieces were performed as the gaudy, polychromatic lightshow continued to dazzle the audience. Eventually TM lapsed way back into PF’s vast repertoire to play early material from the ’60s and ’70s which went over the heads of the young crowd but was warmly received by the older patrons who comprised a significant fraction of the crowd.

Known to all, but rarely spoken is the fact that the music of PF, with its eerie, surreal and gloomy themes, evokes for many if not most of their followers, the hallucinogenic experience of their reckless and lost youth. TM succeed admirably in resurrecting that experience.