Although the days of clubbing after ‘Live in Venice’ with Duran Duran, or hanging in the hotel bar in Germany with Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead may not be re-visited with the Aussies, new memories are made each tour; celebrities included.
Left: Lorelei McBroom, Tom Jones – Lorelei
Centre: Mike Kidson, Colin Wilson, Brian Wilson, Dave Fowler
Right: Steve McElroy – Lorelei , Mike Love
I don’t expect those kinds of guests to be hanging back stage at an Aussie Floyd show, but I did get to meet Tom Jones when the Aussies played the V fest with him in 2012. Gary Wallis (former Pink Floyd percussionist) is his musical director and drummer. He took me in to meet him. I was a huge fan of Tom Jones growing up, and for me that was a summer highlight. The Aussies played a festival in Belgium with the Beach Boys and Bruce Johnston told us how he’d helped arrange vocals for ‘The Wall.’ We got to take photos with Brian Wilson and I grabbed Mike Love for one too. So even with a tribute band I’ve shared the stage with more big name artists! We do the classic Rock genre very well.
There are no private planes, I tote my own bags, we sleep on our tour bus except for days off in a hotel, and I have no issue accepting those differences. I was told by my friend, singer Bernard Fowler, after we finished the Stones tour “everything is downhill from here;” meaning this is the mountain top. I am realistic enough to know the Aussies don’t make the royalties, or draw the same size crowds, but they are very pleasant to work for and that means the world to me! The Aussies have played in the O2 in London, like I did with Rod Stewart, and big name celebrities from Stevie Wonder to Sting have their photos on the wall backstage in many venues we play. The difference is that Rod gets booked for 2 or 3 nights in one place and the Aussies do one-nighters most of the time. I have worked in some organizations where politics can make the gig very tense. That’s not fun especially if it’s a steady gig. “Diva fits” or constant worry that one might offend a temperamental Super Star can make touring with big names challenging.
My earliest exposure to “the big show” was with gracious, down to earth people like Nile Rodgers, bass master Anthony Jackson and Pink Floyd. My background is unique compared to most band members. I have met and worked with lots of big names, so while recounting old war stories, I am often talking about somebody everybody has heard of. I met Joni Mitchell when Pink Floyd played Los Angeles. She was another big influence on me as a school girl, playing folk guitar and singing in a troupe of kids at local schools. Joni was very kind. David Bowie was backstage at our show in Paris. He and my friend producer Nile Rodgers had made “Let’s Dance” together, the biggest record of his career. I knew Nile wanted to work with him again so I told Bowie Nile would love to reunite. As a result, David did call him and they made the “Black Tie White Noise” album.
One of my favorite stories was while on a break from touring with the Rolling Stones, Durga was singing with Pink Floyd at Knebworth in 1990 and I came as her guest. I was back stage and Elton John walked in. He came up and hugged me. He said “I’m so glad you’re here!” I said “I am too but I’m not who you think I am.” We both laughed. I’d never met him before, but he was nervous about performing. His hair was grey and thinning. He told me he hadn’t done a show in a long while. I was a BIG fan of his in high school so this was a golden moment for me. I told him not to be nervous, and that he’d be great! Of course he was. I got to meet Paul and Linda McCartney that day as well, and since Paul had been my favorite Beatle as a little girl that was a thrill! They were also very kind as was Eric Clapton when I introduced myself to him.
Fans whose children never got to see Pink Floyd live come to see the Aussies with their kids. I’ve also noticed how many young fans we’re collecting.
I worked with Pink Floyd post-Waters and for some Pink Floyd purists, that wasn’t the same Pink Floyd. They view ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ as more of a David Gilmour solo album because Rick Wright and Nick Mason didn’t play on it. But we played everything with them on tour so for me it’s all Pink Floyd. Guy Pratt (whose playing I adore) and Jon Carin’s contributions helped carry them forward in a way many of us love. The ‘80s were over the top. Just like disco influenced ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, to me Gary Wallis’s percussion fit the era. There’s no question the angst in Water’s writing was a huge part of the early era Pink Floyd post-Sid Barrett. Gilmour’s guitar playing is phenomenal. Steve McElroy and Dave Fowler do an amazing job of re-creating his genius. Alex McNamara’s vocals especially on ‘Pigs’, ‘Coming Back to Life’ and ‘Hey You’ capture an essence of Waters and Gilmour that makes the lyrics really connect for me. Steve sounds so much like Gilmour ‘Money’ and ‘High Hopes’ Durga and I found it eerie. Drummer Paul Bonney and Colin Wilson on bass have a great pocket that makes dancing to songs like ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ and ‘Run Like Hell’ loads of fun. Jason has Rick’s keyboard sounds and feel down pat and Mike Kidson has a tone on his sax that I make sure to have in my in-ear monitors. The vocal blend I have with Emily Lynn and Lara Smiles is awesome. I do wish the girls and I could be on the floor with the guitars like we were with Pink Floyd. Women on a stage full of men gives it visual balance, especially for the majority male audience. Some of the subtle dancing we do is missed in the shadows. Pink Floyd featured the girls. Even the Pulse girl’s platform was unblocked and well lit. The Aussies tend to shy away for highlighting any one person because they wanna make the music is the star. The 1970’s Pink Floyd philosophy of being heard more than being seen greatly affected the Aussie Floyd. As an American I’m far more inclined to exhibit a performer’s ego. Although Gilmour, Mason and Wright didn’t act like ‘Rock Gods,’ they took pride in their playing. I think this is the point where a tribute band differs from an original band.
My hat’s off to the Aussies for 26 years of preserving the Floyd’s music beautifully! I will continue to get my Floyd fix with these guys as long as they’ll have me! I am very proud of what we do.
See you soon! xx, Lorelei