By Matt Koelling
Pink Floyd is one of the most beloved rock bands of all time, whose uniquely intricate music is best experienced live onstage.
Pink Floyd have not played a full show together since June 1981.
That’s two subsequent generations deprived of the chance to see Pink Floyd live.
Enter Joe Pascarell, founder and lead singer/guitarist of The Machine, a long-running Pink Floyd tribute band who took the stage Monday night in Ocean City.
Joe was one of the fortunate ones who did get to see Floyd in their heyday:
“I’m going to date myself here but my older brother took me to see the Dark Side of the Moon tour at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Saint Patrick’s Day in 1973”.
Since 1988, Joe Pascarell has been paying it forward with the band that he and drummer Tahrah Cohen co-founded.
Over the course of a two-hour show spanning 20 years of Pink Floyd’s career on Monday, culling selections from eight different albums, giving an appreciative Ocean City crowd the closest many will get to an authentic live Pink Floyd experience.
“When we started, there weren’t really a lot of cover bands. That wasn’t really a thing yet. We just loved the music, got a good feeling from playing it and the people really responded. We are not those guys getting up there trying to look like them and all that, we did not get into this chasing money or thinking this could be a legitimate career. We simply loved listening to Pink Floyd’s music as kids then playing it together as we got older. Hopefully that comes through in our performances”.
The absence of Pink Floyd along with The Machine’s love for playing its music, have coalesced serendipitously for nearly three decades now.
“I think having been able to make a living at this for nearly 30 years is a bigger testament to that fact than anything I could say”, said Joe. “When you can get paid to do something that you would be doing for free anyway, that’s when you know you’re on the right track”.
They got on the right track quickly Monday night with a blistering version of “Have A Cigar”, the classic-rock-radio staple from Wish You Were Here.
Several popular selections from Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall soon followed, though there was room left for surprises. “We try to work at least one or two songs that even diehards leave saying ‘I can’t believe they played that’” said Pascarell. They satisfied that quota mid-show with a song from their debut album that the late Syd Barrett wrote about his cat, “Lucifer Sam”.
While that selection might have been a bit beyond some of the audience’s grasp, they were quickly back in the fold with the crowd-pleasing sing-along “Wish You Were Here” immediately afterwards.
“Thank you very much, you sing lovely” Joe said after the song concluded with the crowd filling in on vocal duties in its final chorus.
Joe loves the OC Music Pier, which The Machine has now played five times.
His love for Ocean City, much like his love of Pink Floyd, predates his founding of The Machine.
“We used to come down here with my family as a kid from North Jersey, my cousins had a house,” said Joe, “I remember my cousin and I being on the beach, underneath the boards playing ‘Echoes’ on a boom box at sunset”.
Shortly after the sun set a second ‘I can’t believe they played that’ song of the evening arrived, “Two Suns in The Sunset” from 1983’s The Final Cut. This was the last song Roger Waters ever wrote or recorded with Pink Floyd. The Machine’s guest saxophonist Jon Thompson opened his solo by holding an incredibly long single note, finishing in a dazzling flurry of notes by the song’s conclusion.
Each musician onstage got his own spotlighted time to shine and delivered. Keyboardist/singer Scott Chasolen got cooking on an organ solo during “Another Brick in The Wall”. Bassist/vocalist Ryan Ball displayed his range moving from acoustic guitar, back to bass, while also singing on “Wish You Were Here”. “Pigs”, the set closer, was a true showcase for the band’s two co-founders. Joe deployed a vocoder while the ferocity of his guitar combined with Tahrah Cohen’s double-time drums led to the first of the show’s two standing ovations.
Stephen Buono from Philadelphia came to the show to see his good friend and former classmate Jon Thompson play sax. His last trip to the Ocean City Music Pier had been for a baseball card show a decade ago, where he met Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller. Yet he came away “impressed by the whole band” while having “really enjoyed the show”.
Jon Thompson plays “five or six specialty shows a year” with The Machine. “usually the ones where they’re playing a full album”. The Ocean City date was more of a “standard Machine show” dipping into a little bit of everything in the catalog. Thompson was happy to be involved because he enjoys playing with the band, plus lives “right down the street” from the Music Pier in Ocean View.
As Joe Pascarell chatted up a few enthusiastic fans post-show, Jon Thompson and his friend wandered off to grab a late bite out on the boardwalk. Both men wore the satisfied smile of someone paid to do something they’d have gladly done for free anyway.
- Have A Cigar
- Breathe in The Air
- Learning to Fly
- Nobody Home
- Another Brick in The Wall
- Us and Them
- Shine On You Crazy Diamond
- Lucifer Sam
- Wish You Were Here
- Two Suns in The Sunset
- Not Now John
- One of These Days
- Comfortably Numb