As I toasted the end of another wonderful Mauritian day with a six pack of Phoenix on the beach, I put on the Pink Floyd album Animals and lay back as the sun bled into the sea. It felt appropriate, because that album is the only thing as surreal as the evening beauty of this country. The guitars were wailing and the dogs were howling when I felt a tap on the shoulder, and turned around to see a little bloke with a big smile on his face.
“You like Pink Floyd?” he asked. I thought the answer was obvious, but I told him that that yes, I do enjoy their unique style of guitar-led rock and roll. “You should come to Pink Floyd concert tonight. Just five kilometres from here. You will have wonderful time.”
He handed me a little flyer with a picture of Pink Floyd on it, and I immediately punched the sky. I’ve been a massive fan of Floyd for years, but have never had a chance to see them, so I couldn’t believe how lucky I was that they were playing just down the road from me in Flic en Flac. I cranked up the music, cracked open another can, and prepared myself for an epic evening of progressive rock.
The buses stop running early in Mauritius, so by the time I’d swilled enough booze to poison a wombat and decided to head out, my feet were my only option. I’m telling you, it’s not easy to dodge nutty Mauritian drivers on a dark back road after smashing 11 cans of beer, but somehow I made it to the concert just as the band was launching into In the Flesh? I was nearly dying of thirst after my epic five kilometre treck, so I fronted up to the nearest bark, waited in line for 20 minutes, and finally told the little barman to pour me four of his coldest beers. I was licking my lips like Rolph Harris in a pre-shool – I couldn’t wait to sink some piss!
“Where you ticket?” the barman asked me as I waved a few hundred rupees in his face. Apparently I had to trade my real money in for some stupid tickets called FunBux, and the line for FunBux was about 100m long. Pink Floyd had already blasted through Wish You Were Here and Run Like Hell by the time I joined the back, and while I was standing in line like a chump thay raced through Time and Money, so I was worried the concert would slide by before I’d even had a chance to get shitfaced. The Mauritians, it seems, could not organise a root in a brewery (or something like that).
I finally scored a fistful of booze somewhere in the middle of a 45-minute rendition of Echoes, and moved into the crowd to find some attractive young island dwellers who might want to spend the evening looking at the dark side of my moon. Mauritius might be multi-ethnic, but I was pretty much the darkest person there, and I struggled to find anyone young enough to be able to work a computer without calling their grandchildren for help. After dirty dancing with someone’s grandmother for the entirety of Young Lust (she put her hands down my pants after I sang, “Oooooo, I need a dirty woman!”), I finally stood back to check out the band.
Dave Gilmour was a bit darker than I thought he’d be, and I was surprised to see that Roger Waters had a pineapple-like haircut and colourful boardshorts. Nick Mason had obviously decided to become an overweight Indian since the band’s heyday, and Rick Wright looked quite sprightly for a man who’s been dead for nine years. I turned to the dude next to me and asked, “Is this a fuckin’cover band?” He just looked at me like my dick was hanging out of my shorts.
As far as cover bands go The Mauritian Tribute to Pink Floyd are no worse than the countless Balinese bands who play Wish You Were Here on a loop to bored tourists. In fact, they were bloody brilliant instrumentally, but struggled with the words, leaving Roger Waters’ brilliant lyrics sounding like the words of a homeless man at a glory hole. I found some fellow Aussies to get smashed with and was comfortably numb by the end of the night (despite the lines at the bar), so I can’t really complain.
As I was staggering out after the final song, I got talking to a tall, grey-haired bloke who seemed to be a big fan of Pink Floyd.
“I never got to see the real band play,” I lamented, while stepping over a stray dog.
“That’s a shame,” he replied. “I’ve seen more Floyd concerts than just about anyone.”
“Bloody hell, you must’ve met the band members and everything.”
“Just once or twice.”
“But still, I think those fellas made a decent effort to be like Pink Floyd. I could’ve sworn that was Roger Waters up there on bass.”
“Really?” the silver-haired gentleman asked with a smile. “I don’t think he looked the least bit like me.”