published Sunday, June 12th, 2011

The Machine tackles Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” tonight at Riverbend

When the band last played Riverbend in 2007, The Machine’s tribute to the music of Pink Floyd won over a huge crowd fronting the Unum Stage.

It was a night to remember, said lead singer/guitarist Joe Pascarell, which makes the opportunity to team up with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera as tonight’s Coke Stage headliner all the more exciting.

‘I looked at that stage from the audience’s perspective, and I thought, ‘We really need to play there one day,’ ” he said. “Now, I’m going to go do it. It’s a very rewarding feeling.”

With its expansive soundscapes and rich musical textures, Pink Floyd’s music is a natural fit for an orchestra, said CSO musical director emeritus and pops conductor Bob Bernhardt.

“I think what’s unique to Pink Floyd music is that each of their songs creates its own atmosphere,” Bernhardt said. “There’s this long, arching, chordal music they do where it changes harmonies but not quickly. It fits a chorale of strings beautifully.”

During the course of their 90-minute collaborative set, The Machine and the CSO will perform the entirety of Pink Floyd’s seminal 1973 album, “The Dark Side of the Moon.” Pascarell said he wanted to avoid ruining too many surprises in the set list but promised additional pieces from “Dark Side’s” 1975 follow-up, “Wish You Were Here” and 1979’s “The Wall.”

Pink Floyd’s live performances were renowned for their dramatic stage props and light shows. While The Machine won’t be flying a plane into the barge or building a wall onstage, Pascarell said every song will be accompanied by a vivid light display and videos projected on screens behind the musicians.

The show will also feature guest performances by Black Crowes and North Mississippi Allstars guitarist Luther Dickinson and Dave Matthews saxophonist Jeff Coffin. Both men will be performing earlier in the evening — Dickinson with the Allstars (7:45-9 p.m., Bud Light Stage) and Coffin with his Mu’tet (8-9:15 p.m., Unum).

Coffin said he has been a fan of Pink Floyd’s music since college and is looking forward to performing it.

“Everybody loves Pink Floyd,” he said. “It should be fun, a lot of fun, to dig into that stuff.”

The Machine was founded by a group of New York-based musicians in 1989. Early on, the band performed an average of 150 to 180 shows a year. In recent years, that has dropped to 70 to 80, but in all, the band has performed about 2,000 times, Pascarell said.

For all its expansiveness and complexity, Pink Floyd’s music — with a few exceptions, such as “Comfortably Numb” — wasn’t written for orchestral accompaniment. The Machine commissioned its arrangements in 2005 and has performed with orchestras several times annually since 2007.

Even to longtime Pink Floyd fans, the performance should offer a new perspective on the music, Pascarell said.

“It’s presenting this music that’s so familiar to people, and it sounds like it’s familiar, yet there’s this texture in it you’ve never heard before,” he said. “It’s really special, really something.”

Contact Casey Phillips at or 423-757-6205.

Online: Read a Q&A.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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