Y'all are used to seeing reviews now and then here on planet5D, but I know you've never seen a concert review here before… but I actually left the home planet and went to set Brit Floyd in St. Louis this past Saturday
Ok, you can also think of it as a camera/lens review if you want… as that's what you'll usually find here… but alas, nobody will be surprised by my choice of camera… a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with the Canon 70-200 f2.8 II IS.
Oh, well I can throw in a new bit of gear, I purchased an inexpensive Vello non-Canon grip for my camera which arrived Friday just in time. But with only 1 use, it is hard to say whether it is going to survive.
So… Brit Floyd is a Pink Floyd “tribute” band… and I dare say, they absolutely crush Pink Floyd music. I've been Pink Floyd live, and I've seen Brit Floyd twice now, and I dare say this latest show trumps (oops, did I really just use that word? With the political climate here in the US, maybe I shouldn't! HA!) anything I've seen before.
There are a couple of things I look for in a concert… first, I love to hear people play the classics, but I also want to hear them live – which means I want them to be a bit different… something with new bits and flavor to surprise me. Second, I want to see people playing with passion and showing they really enjoy what they're playing – even if they've played it 1000 times before (and with the amount of touring this group does, 1000x is probably an understatement).
Brit Floyd exceeds my expectations on both counts.
Since I saw them in 2014, they've added a “$1 million light show” and the lighting of this show was stunning. I've never seen anything like it!
Now here's the real bonus for me, Brit Floyd allows ‘professional' cameras at their shows! Very few bands will allow decent cameras because, well, I guess they think they're protecting their brand.
The show was in the Peabody Opera House – which is a fantastic place which has awesome acoustics. I got there an hour early and had a great conversation with the usher. He told me that the building is so good, a person standing on stage speaking in a normal tone can be heard in the very last row of the upper mezzanine. I didn't get a chance to test that, but I trust him.
My seat was on the front row of the mezzanine – just to the right of center and it was perfect. I love being able to look down as opposed to sitting in the front and looking up. Just after the intermission, I walked down front on the left side of the stage and I swear the acoustics were better up in the balcony. Plus, kudos to the staff for not chasing me off and letting me take some photos down front.
Another bonus… they started the concert EXACTLY at 8pm… none of this waiting 20 minutes for the band to come out… and frankly it was almost a pain as so many people are used to being able to be fashionably late, there were a lot of people scrambling to find seats during the first 2 tunes. And they had to go right by me since I was on an aisle… oh well. Heck, even the two seats next to me were vacant for 45 minutes… which was great for me.
The show starts out rocking and never stops. Ending at 11pm (with a 20 minute intermission), you'll walk out not only feeling great and energized, but you'll be exhausted as Brit Floyd takes you thru a wide gamut of emotions and great songs (which as I said, a good bit of uniqueness to twist your mind a bit in places you weren't expecting).
Recently I went to a show with my teenage daughter – a current pop star and the show was in the large hockey arena, and not only were the acoustics horrible, and the volume was turned up so high that even with earplugs you couldn't distinguish much of what was being played (and we were in the back of the arena, not down front), but the show only lasted about an hour and a half (if that much). I was thankful to get out of there and very glad someone had given us the tickets for free!
So to be able to hear, and see an astounding light show, and be completely entertained for 3 hours was a real joy for me.
Plus, I shot the heck out of the show with my Canon EOS 5D Mark III
A tiny sampling of Brit Floyd 2016
So, what do I mean about how the band plays the classic Pink Floyd tunes but improves them? “Shine on you crazy diamond” leads off the “Wish You Were Here” album (you remember albums – the real ones on vinyl?) – Brit Floyd makes the 4+ minute introduction into over 5 minutes, making it all the more appealing, dramatic, and intriguing.
It is a real shame that Pink Floyd didn't record any audio or video on their tours which means we can't go back and really relive those events. I've listened to a couple of audience recordings (which are generally horrible and difficult to get thru) and there were some real brilliant pieces performed… but since we can't hear them as we would have heard them live, we are blessed to have Brit Floyd!
Speaking of Pink Floyd, I saw them in 1977 in Tampa Stadium… I will never ever forget the intro to the show. The QUAD setup in the stadium was incredible. We were towards the back on the field and to hear the herd of cattle wandering thru from right to left before the show started blew me away. As they were starting the show, the sun was setting and the pink sunset flooded the stadium as the cows were ‘walking' thru… it was perfect! It was like they planned it.
Unfortunately, my show ended on a bad note… some idiot was so excited that they threw a bottle up in the air and it landed on the head of my friend next to me (my driver to the show) – blood was everywhere. I ended the show taking him to the emergency station somewhere in the bowels of the stadium and missed the end of the show
Back to 2016…
The Brit Floyd Continuum show is just awesome. Clean audio where you can hear everything. Songs from many many Pink Floyd albums. Simply stunning visuals. Superb musicians and singers round out the incredible show. For me, it was one of the top 5 concerts of my life.
Oh, and get this… after the show, the band comes and sits in the lobby doing autographs and photos if you want. Of course, they're hoping you'll buy some merchandise, but there's no requirement to buy anything and they're just as pleasant as they can be after playing for 3 hours! I made sure to stop in and thank them for the show and for allowing photos!
So, if you're curious, visit their site and find the North America tour date near you (or Europe later in 2016) and go!
I urge you to watch a few of their videos on youtube channel – you'll fall in love if you ever enjoyed Pink Floyd.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Canon 70-200 f2.8 II IS
Well, I guess I should add a few comments about these too right?
By way of review, let me just say I love my Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Canon 70-200 f2.8 II IS. The 5D3 sensor has beautiful image quality and the low light capabilities are very good (hoping they get better in the next release).
I thought about buying a 1.4 extender for a little more reach, but i'm not sure I want it… I was able to shoot just about everything I wanted at the Brit Floyd show so why would I give up the light gathering for a little more reach?
I shot the beginning of the show at ISO 3200 and then started worrying about the higher ISO impacting sharpness (tho the 5D3 is pretty good about higher ISOs there's still some loss of detail at times)… so I went down to 1600 for most of the rest of the night.
I also learned last time that shooting the lasers at higher shutter speeds means you'll only get a fragment of the beam or if it is a wide dispersal for example, you'll only catch a small bit – but I thought about it during the show and I figured out that if I slow the shutter down to 1/4o or 1/3o then I could catch the beams. Of course, that makes it more difficult to get a steady shot, but that's where the IS comes in right?
Oh, and I wasn't worried about the lasers hitting the sensor because they're smart enough to aim the lasers at the walls (or at the base of the balcony) and I didn't have any fears – but I do remember the lessons about losing the sensor due to lasers we posted several times before!
Notice how I ‘managed' (meaning got lucky) and caught this laser shot looking very cool:
So, after learning that little lesson, I managed to get some decent laser shots like this one:
Anyway, I had a great time and I hope you'll enjoy all of my photos here.
And thanks again to Damien (leader of Brit Floyd) and the rest of the team for a great show – and for letting photographers like me enhance our pleasure by allowing photos!
(cover photo credit: photos by planetMitch!)