Brit Floyd’s Damian Darlington got hooked on Pink Floyd at age 13

By Steve Newton

Brit Floyd guitarist-vocalist and musical director Damian Darlington got his first guitar as a Christmas present when he was 11 years old, but it took him a couple of years before he really got into it. In the meantime, he bought his first-ever album (Eagles Live), which was followed by the purchase of an LP by Mike Oldfield, best known for Tubular Bells, the opening of which you may have heard in The Exorcist.

“He’s a multi-instrumentalist,” explains Darlington on the phone from his home in Cheshire, England, “but first and foremost he’s a guitarist, and he certainly influenced me early on. And I started to discover artists like Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia, so I was valiantly trying to play some of their guitar parts from around the age of 13 onwards, which is not an easy task, to say the least.”

As well as embracing the guitarwork of jazz artists at this time, Darlington’s musical tastes also tended toward prog-rock, with his fave band being Rush, followed closely by Yes. And prior to that another famous prog band had started to creep into his consciousness in a big way.

“My first memory [of Pink Floyd] is when ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ was an unlikely Christmas #1 in 1979,” he says, “but I wasn’t really ready to be into music in general at that age. A few years later I got to hear The Wall album in its entirety and from that moment onwards I was hooked. I was about 13 I think, and I just wanted to seek out all the other Pink Floyd albums I could get hold of after hearing The Wall.”

One of those discs was The Dark Side of the Moon, an album that Brit Floyd will draw on heavily when it plays Vancouver on July 31, as part of a world tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of that monumental release.

“Somebody sold me a second-hand copy of it for the princely price of 50 pence,” recalls Darlington with a laugh, “so I got to hear a rather scratched-up copy of it first off. But it was amazing from the first listen. It was definitely captivating.”

Nowadays one of Darlington’s main roles with the band–which he formed in Liverpool in 2011 after 17 years with the Australian Pink Floyd Show–is performing the guitar solos that David Gilmour made famous. He basically shares the lead work with Italian guitarist Edo Scordo, who joined the group in 2015. But it’s not as if they arm wrestle before each gig to see who gets to wail away on “Comfortably Numb”.

“We split it fairly amicably,” says Darlington. “It depends what the setlist is, to be quite honest with you. There’s the sort of tracks I’ve been playing forever, and if more of those come into the set then I’ll carry on doing them. But Edo is a very, very fine guitar player. He’s spent his whole life having David Gilmour as his inspiration, so he certainly is well suited to playing certain Gilmour guitar solos very well indeed.”

Naturally, when it comes to their chosen instruments, Darlington and Scordo start with the same Fender model that Gilmour is noted for.

“You’ve gotta have a Strat,” he points out. “Personally I’m using a Strat that’s more like what Gilmour was playing in the late ’80s, early ’90s–the red Strat he had then. And I am actually using his signature EMG pickups, the DG-20 pickups.

“Edo has a Strat that is a more vintage one, with more appropriate pickups for doing earlier Gilmour stuff. So we will take it so far when it comes to using the correct kind of gear that Gilmour and Pink Floyd used. But in general it’s a lot easier and safer to use more modern equipment when you’re touring as extensively as we are.”

When Darlington is asked whether there’s one particular David Gilmour guitar solo that stands out for him, that really turns his crank, his answer isn’t too surprising.

“It has to be when I play ‘Comfortably Numb’. The epic end guitar solos–it’s gotta be one of the finest rock guitar solos ever. When it comes to things that Edo does that blow me away, personally, it’s probably some of the guitar work on ‘Dogs’, off the Animals album. You know, the sort of beautiful, and really quite technical, guitarwork from Gilmour on that album–probably the most technical work he ever did, really.”

All this talk of pickups and guitar solos and Strats shouldn’t lead potential concertgoers to think that the only musical highlights of a Brit Floyd show emanate from fingers and fretboards. One of the two-and-a-half-hour show’s most mesmerizing moments occurs when backup singer Eva Avila steps up to the mike to deliver the wordless vocals originally performed by Clare Torry on the Dark Side track “Great Gig in the Sky”.

Darlington discovered the Quebec-born Avila–a 2006 Canadian Idol winner who joined Brit Floyd in 2017, then married Scordo in 2020–while trolling through YouTube, looking at various versions of the song.

“I came across Eva singing with a Canadian Pink Floyd show–the name escapes me–so she was already doing ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ when I first met her. I think she first heard it when she was about 20 years old or roundabout that age. She didn’t nail it straightaway, as far as I understand it; she did have to spend a bit of time developing the technique of singing it. But I mean now she’s absolutely perfect. Night after night, we couldn’t wish for a better person on the road with us singing that track.”

Performing with Darlington, Scordo, and Avila in Vancouver will be vocalist-bassist Ian Cattell (he sings the Roger Waters songs), keyboardist Matt Riddle, drummer Arran Ahrum, saxophonist-percussionist Ryan Saranich, and backing vocalists Genevieve Little and Jesse Lee Houllier.

And if the timeless Pink Floyd songs and sterling musicianship of the various Brit Floyd members doesn’t do it for you, the mind-boggling visuals–inspired by Floyd’s legendary live shows–surely will.

“You obviously always start with the circle,” says Darlington, “or ‘Mr. Screen’ as it was affectionately known, as the centerpiece of it. I’m always looking at what Pink Floyd were doing on the ’94 tour and the Momentary Lapse of Reason tour for inspiration, but also some of the solo performances and tours that Roger Waters and Gilmour have done, subsequently, to get ideas.

“There’s also plenty of our own input in there,” he points out, “and a way of recreating some of these things on perhaps a smaller scale than Pink Floyd did in places. And it’s been an evolution over the years. It didn’t happen all at once; it’s developed over the period of the last decade. We’re always trying to improve it, upgrading some of the fixtures. We’ve got more lasers this year, better lasers in general. So we never sort of stand still.”

Darlington has taken his Brit Floyd show far and wide, traversing the globe to keep ravenous Floyd fans happy. So has he found that there are some cities where fans are just more ravenous than others?

“Certainly there are,” he replies. “You find passionate fans of Pink Floyd music wherever you go, but there are obviously certain cities in the world, certain countries indeed, that seem to embrace it a little bit more enthusiastically–or certainly show their enthusiasm about what we’re doing a little bit more.

“I don’t know whether this will upset Canadian people at all,” he adds playfully, “but you do tend to find some very passionate fans of Floyd and prog music in general in Quebec, that part of Canada. So I don’t know whether there’ll be some competition between the west of Canada and the east over that.”

Brit Floyd plays Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Monday, July 31, and you can find tickets here.

(The above article was made possible by the support of sponsor Palladium Entertainment. For information on Ear of Newt’s sponsored content email

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