Last week the Pink Floyd tribute band, "The Australian Pink Floyd" played in Prague. This was great for those of us whose formative teenage years consisted of trying to fit "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Wish You Were Here" on one side each of a C90 cassette before returning the albums at school the next day. The good thing about the Australian Pink Floyd is that you know exactly what's coming - greatest hits, lasers, 3D effects, inflatable pigs and so on, and all very well done at that. Just like the real Pink Floyd, except Australian.
A few weeks ago a student of mine told me she was going to see the 1990s Irish band, The Cranberries, that particular evening. Upon expressing surprise that not only had they reformed but were playing in a neighbouring village just three bus stops and ten minutes hitch-hiking time away, she rolled her eyes and retorted "Don´t be silly, they play here all there time".
It turns out that rather than Ms O'Riordan and Co. upping sticks and heading for the land of the dumpling, my student had simply fallen for the old tribute poster scam that is rather prevalent in these parts. This involves using the original band name and logo in large size letters followed by words such as "revival", "tribute" or similar in microscopically small print at the bottom of the poster. Thus, various revival and tribute versions of AC/DC, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and the Rolling Stones (complete with a bald Keith Richards and Paul McCartney replacing Bill Wyman on bass) have all appeared in various village halls and pubs in the region within the last few years.
The most memorable tribute band to have played in the village were the imaginatively titled KISS (me) who played in the Village Hall a few years ago when headlining the annual Valentines Day Masquerade Ball, a major event in the village calendar and almost on a par with the ceremonial switching on of the Christmas lights in December. Maybe the idea was that KISS (me), being kind of masked themselves, would fit the theme as it were.
No thanks Gene - we prefer bluegrass............
After regurgitating "God gave Rock n Roll to you" into "Dog save Guacamole, do you", the band decided to bring the pyrotechnic part of the show forward, presumably to take the attention away from the deafening silence that greeted the opening number. As the bass player began to unscrew the top of the bottle containing lighter fuel that had been placed at his feet, the first two rows of tables immediately caught the smell and began to exchange glances, suspecting something was afoot. This was confirmed a few seconds later when he successfully extracted his imitation Zippo lighter from his skin tight spandex leggings.
Panic began to break out in the audience, unsure whether he was about to martyr himself or martyr by proxy the first two rows of tables. In a surge of civic pride, the Deputy Mayor sprinted to the back of the hall and frantically began to pull the village fire extinguisher off the wall, although by this point there was no need to extinguish anyone - a purple faced bass player was now coughing, choking and twitching in a worrying manner after inadvertently swallowing the first mouthful.
Fortunately medical attention (back slaps, much water drinking, cries of "don't puke") was close at hand, expertly administered to the ailing musician by those so close to immolation just one minute previously. So successful was the treatment that the bass player was allowed to stay for the evening providing no home-made slivolice (plum brandy) was drunk, for fear of provoking a catastrophic chemical reaction.
The Masquerade Ball continued with KISS (me) replaced by a six piece bluegrass band hastily summoned from a neighbouring village, that when all was said and done, provided a more appropriate style of music from the perspective of the relived residents.
As for the village, a few days later a new motion banning KISS (me) from village balls was put in place by the entertainment committee............ ......although maybe they should just look a little bit more closely at the small print in future.