PFX: The Pink Floyd Experience

Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, March 30

Plenty of tribute bands have dates in Las Vegas every year, and most of them can be found playing either the Fremont Street Experience or locals casino showrooms. So it might seem odd that a cast of six unknown musicians performing decades-old progressive rock songs with themes such as disillusionment and alienation landed a marquee gig at the city’s shiny, new performing arts center. But the Pink Floyd Experience is no second-rate knockoff; it is a genuine re-creation of one of rock’s most innovative and influential bands.

There was no easing into things as PFX began the evening by playing the 1975 album Wish You Were Here in its entirety, starting and ending with the atmospheric epic “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” The band spared no detail in duplicating the seminal album, right down to the cough and sniff at the beginning of the title track.

Following an intermission, PFX returned to play another dozen songs, including classic-rock radio hits such as “Time,” “Money” and “Comfortably Numb.” For the die-hard fans, the band breathed new life into lesser-known songs from Floyd’s early days, such as the heavy, throbbing space-rock of “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” and “Astronomy Domine.”

By the time an inflatable flying pig floated above the capacity crowd during closers “Run Like Hell” and “Another Brick in the Wall,” only the addition of Pink Floyd principals Roger Waters and David Gilmour would have made this a more authentic experience. ★★★★☆

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The 7:30 p.m. start to their set in the hard-to-find downtown lot made VHS or Beta’s stellar show the most criminally under-attended of any band I saw that weekend. While the early start might have made sense had the venue not changed from the alley behind Beauty Bar (blame new zoning regulations), it did no favors to the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Louisville, Ky., dance-pop outfit. Nonetheless, VHS or Beta put on one of the better sets in Neon Reverb history. “Burn It All Down” might be five years old but it’s so likeable, it could still be a dance anthem.