You will believe a pig can fly.
A replica of the giant pink floating pig, a mascot for Pink Floyd's "Animals" album and tour from the 1970's, made its appearance at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe Thursday evening as part of the performance by tribute band the Pink Floyd Experience.
The six piece band, led by San Diego native Tom Quinn on guitar and vocals, strives to replicate not only the music of the British progressive supergroup but the eye-catching visuals of its concerts as well.
A crowd of about 750 turned out to see the pig and PFX, as the band abbreviates its name, recreate Floyd's "Animals" album in its entirety, as well as perform a set of the band's other hits.
"Animals" was released between two of Pink Floyd's best known albums, "Wish You Were Here" and "The Wall." While not as commercially or perhaps critically successful as the records that bookended it, "Animals" does have its appeal for many Floyd fanatics. While tribute bands might perform a song or two off it, hearing it performed from start to finish is a rarity that PFX provided.
"Animals" is based on George Orwell's "Animal Farm" and only has four songs, which are named "Dogs," "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" and "Sheep," as well as the short two-part "Pigs on the Wing" that is played on acoustic guitar to open and close the record.
Because of the length of the suite-like songs, as well as the concept, "Animals" didn't garner as much radio play as some of Pink Floyd's better-known work. PFX gave "Animals" the full treatment it deserves, using its entire 45 minute opening set to perform it beginning to end.
Each of the three main "animals" has it own morale flavor. "Dogs," which took up almost all of side one during the days when vinyl albums had two sides, seems based on the motto "every dog has its day," as the conniving canines end up receiving their comeuppance at the end.
"Pigs (Three Different Ones)" directs Pink Floyd's disgust at three specific targets, one of them a British censor and moral guardiam at the time, Mary Whitehouse, who is named in the song and is blamed for "trying to keep our feelings off the street." The song has a syncopated section that drives its point home in ominous fashion.
"Sheep" has a nightmarish feel to it as its title animal gets led to the slaughter. It includes a mechanical-voiced paraphrase of Psalm 23rd that picks up with that theme.
Quinn strums the final part of "Pigs on the Wing" to provide a glimmer of hope in the bleak Orwellian vision of "Animals."
Interestingly, PFX did not release its flying porker during its "Animals" set. It remained lodged in The Peak's balcony until near the end of the second set, when it took flight during a medley of two "Wall" favorites, "Run Like Hell" and "Another Brick in the Wall Part Two."
The second set spanned Floyd's career and also included material from "Dark Side of the Moon," and "Wish You Were Here" as well as post-Roger Waters' hit "Learning to Fly" and a trip back to " A Saucerful of Secrets."
Pink Floyd was considered one of the ultimate "headphone bands" and PFX has its share of sonic trips, including the use of surround sound, so that the barking of dogs, oinking of pigs and ringing of cash registers, well known Floyd sound effects, were put to good use.
Quinn was also able to provide his own versions of David Gilmour's searing guitar solos, which add bite to the Floyd soundscape.
While the entire "Animals" set was a worthy highlight, PFX fared best on the "Dark Side of the Moon" standards, with "Money" and the album's closing trio of "Any Color You Like," "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse" given reverent recreations. Longer material, such as "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" and "Echoes," were given abridged renditions, most likely due to time restraints, but they were still a blast to hear live.
Jesse Molloy's striking sax work on "Money," not to mention Gus Beaudoin's signature Roger Waters' basswork, added energy to the performance to go with the visual appeal of the coloful lighting and accompaning video screen that played non-stop behind the band.
Pink Floyd tributes are not uncommon these days, but PFX can certainly hold its own. It doesn't hurt that it has its own "pig on the wing" to rise above the crowded field.