While the term “progressive rock” can be open to interpretation, it is basically one that made its way into the music lexicon decades ago when bands started blending different styles and sounds that deviated from the norm.
Bands given the progressive-rock label tended to experiment with laser lighting, audio feedback and special effects during live performances, and their studio albums sometimes had songs with common story lines, concepts or themes.
But while its literal meaning may vary, live musicians always represented the common thread among all ensembles that fell under the progressive-rock umbrella.
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Or so we may have assumed.
For the past 30 years, a show started by Steve Monistere of Paramount Entertainment has been selling out arenas all across America with a tribute to perhaps the best known progressive-rock band ever, Pink Floyd. And as spectacular and stimulating to the senses as a show would have to be to enjoy that kind of longevity, it has never involved a single musician taking the stage.
Founded in San Antonio in 1986 — and billing itself as the longest touring theater show in history — the Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular stays fresh by having its multitude of special effects and sensory bombardment subtly tweaked each year, and every five years the show is totally revamped. A brand-new version of the two-and-a-half-hour show — viewed on a giant high-def screen through specially designed 3-D glasses — makes its way to Resorts Casino Hotel’s Superstar Theater 8 p.m. Saturday, March 25.
“It’s a little tough to describe, but it’s a unique show and a unique form of entertainment,” Monistere says. “What I like to say is that if you go to a rock concert — with the band, the moving lights, the lasers, the giant sound system and all the excitement — it’s like that, but it doesn’t have any musicians on stage.
“What we do is interpret all the Pink Floyd music with the tools that we have — state-of-the-art laser technology, high-definition video projection, computer graphic animation and other special effects. We tell a story with every Pink Floyd song, utilizing those elements and choreographing them to each song. That all kind of takes the place of the live band. So instead of watching musicians perform, you’re watching a multi-media show that tells a story.”
This year’s version of the show is done in two parts, with the first half being a depiction of Pink Floyd’s 1973 “Dark Side of the Moon” — one of the best-selling albums in history — followed in the second half by a 1979 album that also reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard charts, “The Wall.”
“If you’re a person who enjoys classic rock or progressive rock, you will thoroughly enjoy this show even if you don’t necessary happen to be a big fan of Pink Floyd music,” Monistere says.
“When we do a show, we’re able to keep track of sales and downloads of Pink Floyd songs,” he adds. “After we’ve played in a particular market, there’s almost always an indication through a spike in sales that people are being turned onto the music for the first time, and a lot of them are young people. We’re seeing different generations in the audiences, with parents bringing their teens and 20-somethings.”
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Bands such as Yes, King Crimson, Electric Light Orchestra, the Moody Blues and Genesis have all had major impacts on what has been dubbed the progressive-rock era, but none like Pink Floyd.
“They’ve been the mainstay,” Monistere says, “and the show that people will see this time out will be totally different from anything they might have seen in the last few years.”
Kashmir gets the Led out
Folks who have yet to check out Golden Nugget Atlantic City’s free music series called Flashback Fridays may want to make this the weekend they end the omission. One of the best Led Zeppelin tribute bands in the land — and a regular performer at Golden Nugget’s two outdoor summertime series called Fakefest and Deckstock — is returning to the resort 9 p.m. Friday, March 24, at The Showroom.
Kashmir was founded in the New York City area in 2000 and has been hailed as the most authentic representation of Led Zeppelin on the tribute-band touring scene. Each of Kashmir’s four members is a seasoned musician who simulates the look and sound of the original Led Zeppelin members with incredible accuracy. Kashmir also mirrors the originals’ instrumentation, such as Jimmy Page’s iconic double-neck guitar.
The band features founder and lead vocalist Jean Violet playing the role of Robert Plant, Andy Urban as Page, Felix Hanemann as bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones and Paul Cooper as drummer John Bonham.
Fans can expect to hear all of Led Zeppelin’s biggest hits such as “The Song Remains the Same,” “Good Times Bad Times,” “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Communications Breakdown,” “Ramble On,” “Heartbreaker,” “Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)” and of course “Kashmir.”