Concert review: El Monstero greets the apocalypse with Pink Floyd at the Pageant, Friday, December 21
With 17 bandmates in place and a set-up rivaling anything I’ve seen at the Pageant, Mark Thomas Quinn rode his podium over 30 feet above the sold-out and bustling mass before El Monstero proceeded to expand the meaning of the word “spectacle.”
El Monstero, difficult to define in the first place, is a collection of dedicated musicians, each with numerous band credits to their name — many Urge fans made their presence known during the introductions — that holds down an annual block of shows at the Pageant around Christmas. The difference: These are Pink Floyd tribute shows. These are El Monstero’s signature, for 14 consecutive years and regularly selling out each one.
Without an opener, the supergroup carved out a wide swath of Pink Floyd’s discography — the opening medley captured some of the pre-”Dark Side of the Moon” gem, “Meddle.” The first half of the show was largely built around Roger Water’s thesis, “The Wall.”
Fully included were multiple classic scenes from the film to the delight of everyone, especially those who’ve made a lopsided trade for a chocolate Snak-Pak in the interest of avoiding Salisbury steak. The opening, an excellent vision of character Pink’s delusional fascist concert, replete with a horsewhip, knee-high boots and the El Monstero stasi — armed only with spotlights tonight — elicited a borderline unsettling feeling. It was only amplified by the fact that so many moving parts truly commanded attention.
“Another Brick in the Wall” allowed the few who hadn’t completely been entranced yet the opportunity, as the stark contrasts of the night began. Lasers, built to approximate the calm of a lake, were interrupted by enough pyrotechnics to put a WWE headliners entrance to shame. “Young Lust” allowed a specific, professional group their exotic turn at the forefront, as well as at symmetrical poles adorning either end of the stage. While a ballet dancer temporarily afforded a reprieve to the mothers in attendance, a pig on stilts resembling Rich Uncle Pennybags corrupted the pole shortly thereafter, and marked the start of the industry evisceration, “Have a Cigar.” Advice to future attendees: Secure a spot in the pit before this happens.
After the break, El Monstero got back into its full tilt with an immaculate performance of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.” The crowd’s astonishment at aerial contortionist Meg, donning diamonds herself, was palpable. Dave Farver’s table top saxophone solo from the first tier faithfully brought it home.
The second half of the show heavily featured a start-to-finish recreation of the touchstone album “The Dark Side of the Moon.” Emphasizing the signature crunch of each riff and that unparalleled longing for another that Pink Floyd conveys, El Monstero nailed every bit. “Us and Them,” and “Breathe,” were particularly well-received. Special consideration goes out to the three ladies who belted out “The Great Gig in the Sky.” As anticipated a moment in the night as any, the applause rose as soon as they were seen leaving their perch against the set background. Ms. Tandra Williams, once arriving at her rightful place front and center with a microphone, quickly made any other thought obsolete.
A short encore allowed the band to circle back to the few necessities that hadn’t been done yet, and allowed “Wish You Were Here” to easily become a favorite of “Night One,” as guitarist Jimmy Griffin described this night, the only show scheduled before the Mayan apocalypse. After ending on “Comfortably Numb,” the band afforded fans one more memory, adding a shower of pyrotechnics before making the night’s final exit from the stage.
El Monstero: Pigocalypse continues at the Pageant through December 29, 2012.