By Thom Jennings
Niagara Gazette — The retooled Machine made their annual pilgrimage to Artpark Tuesday, and if there was any question as to whether they should come back next year, they answered it with a show that would have blown the roof off of Artpark, if it had one.
Since their formation in 1988, Joe Pascarell has handled vocal and guitar duties for The Machine, but this year marked the first year the band performed without one of its founding members.
Last year’s show was steeped in sentimentality, being Pascarell’s last visit to Artpark with The Machine. This year the band performed with a renewed conviction thanks to the addition of Adam Minkoff on bass and vocals, and Ryan Ball’s shift from bass to guitar.
What I have always loved about The Machine is the improvisational element they add to the Pink Floyd material. They play in a way that reminds me why I fell in love with bands like The Grateful Dead and Little Feat, going off into spirited jams that capture your imagination and remind you that there is a real live band onstage and not a recording or scripted performance.
The Machine’s set contained all the fan favorites, save one, they didn’t play “Money.” In many ways I am glad they didn’t play it because their set was so good that if anybody whined about not hearing “Money” they must have “Brain Damage,” (a song that they did play).
The band began their first set at 7:15 p.m with “In the Flesh.” The first set featured some interesting selections from all three of Floyd’s lineups, including a great version of “Astronomy Domine” from the Syd Barret era and “Coming Back to Life” from the Gilmour-led lineup.
Minkoff’s greatest contribution to the band is his ability to handle the Gilmour vocal parts with ease. He nailed the lead on “Coming Back to Life” and later when the band played “Comfortably Numb” he was able to handle both the Roger Waters and David Gilmour parts amazingly well.
In fact, I will go as far as to say that The Machine’s version of “Comfortably Numb,” was better than any live version that the Gilmour-led Floyd or Roger Waters solo band has performed.
While Pascarell’s guitar style is closer to Gilmour’s than Ball’s, I actually prefer Ball’s finesse. Ball really puts his own stamp on the material, almost shredding at times, which really compliments drummer Tahrah Cohen, and the way she attacks the drum kit.
Keyboardist Scott Chasolen brought it all together, adding some great vocal lines and pulling out some great sounds that add authenticity to the material, especially on songs like “Echoes” and “One of These Days.”
It was Chasolen who made two comments that underscored what type of evening it was, first he said “we aren’t going to talk too much because we have a lot of playing to do,” and then he went on to say, “It’s always to be great to back at Artpark, we miss you the other 364 days of the year.”
After Tuesday’s show everyone at Artpark was missing them — until next year.Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.