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Pyrotechnics and Pink Floyd

The Paramount Laser Spectacular sets music from The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon to psychedelic lighting, videos and stage fog this weekend in St. Petersburg.

By JOHN FLEMING

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 28, 2001


"This is one concert so advanced it doesn't even need a band!" "This is one concert so advanced it doesn't even need a band!"

So says the Web site of the Paramount Laser Spectacular, which pounds out the music of Pink Floyd to lasers, videos, pyrotechnics, stage fog and psychedelic lighting in a show that plays Mahaffey Theater on Friday. 3-D glasses are available.

Mostly the show consists of Pink Floyd -- The Wall, the movie inspired by the band's rock opera about the nervous breakdown of a rock star. Also featured are highlights from the so-called synchronicity between Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz.

The Dark Side/Oz connection was quite the Internet buzz a few years ago. The idea is to turn the volume off on the movie in your VCR, begin the Pink Floyd CD at the point where the MGM lion roars for the third time, and then music and movie supposedly achieve a "strange cosmic synchronization" (in the words of one Web site) for the 43-minute running time of the album.

"It's kind of the surprise element in the show, and when it comes up, the audience goes crazy," said Paramount producer Steve Monistere. "It has the parts we consider the best synchronization, one to the song Money, another to The Great Gig in the Sky, a dreamy type of piece, with a female voice doing this crooning, swooning a cappella kind of thing that goes on for about four minutes. It works perfectly in time with the scene when the tornado picks up the house and Dorothy's looking out the window and seeing all these images swirling around her. It really is intriguing."

There are other matches between CD and movie -- Dorothy teeters on a fence when the band sings "balanced on the biggest wave" from Breathe, a scene of the Munchkins dancing seems choreographed with Us and Them, Brain Damage plays at the point where the Scarecrow sings If I Only Had a Brain, the album ends with a heartbeat as Dorothy tries to hear a heartbeat in the Tin Man, that sort of thing -- but only a Floyd fanatic could really buy into the theory that they're anything more than spacey coincidences.

A popular Web site on the subject is Mike Johnston's Synchronicity Arkive at home.xnet.com/arkiver/synch/synch.shtml. The Paramount production, which has toured since 1987, has featured other bands from the classic rock era (Rush, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Queen), and Monistere is developing a new laser show on The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

"When we've done classic rock and mixed it up, we drew more of a broad audience because there was more music to choose from," he said. "With the Pink Floyd show, if you're not a Pink Floyd fan, you don't really understand the music very much or what's going on. So sometimes we try to give them more variety."

Still, Pink Floyd and lasers are the touchstone, a combination that has been bringing out the crowds since planetarium shows in the 1970s. "It's been unbelievable how consistently the show's been attended over the years," Monistere said.

PREVIEW

The Paramount Laser Spectacular is at 8 p.m. Friday at Mahaffey Theater. Tickets: $20-$24. (727) 892-5767. Web site: laserspectacular.com/index2.html.

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