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Ftira, cold lager & Pink Floyd – Maltese Summer Essentials

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

Some Maltese wait for summer all year long and start complaining about the heat as soon as we hit June. The older I grow, the more I am convinced that perspective changes with age. As children we used to spend hours in the scorching sun, either swimming or else fooling around. Few were those who bothered with sunblock at all. Time flies and suddenly you are in adolescence and before you know it, a young ‘adult’. Time for your first lager and the occasional cigarette. Suddenly you start developing new friendships and hang out with larger mixed groups. From those endless BBQ nights or days by the sea I remember some constants like the ftira biz-zejt, cold beer and that Pink Floyd track somewhere in the background. Also, somebody would bring along an acoustic guitar, and more often than not, try to fiddle out some Floyd tunes, favorite victim being Wish You Were Here. Not to mention The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon logos, in every shape and form, pretty much everywhere you looked.


The British giants have concurred the world with their music and their lyrics. They have fought on behalf of the people, so it is very easy to assimilate with the message in most of their songs, especially if you are in your rebel days. Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 (better known as We Don’t Need No Education) became an anthem for students all over the world. Pink Floyd provided you with a soundtrack for your life. The child, the youth, the adult……….literally from the cradle to the grave. They sold millions of records throughout the world and this comes as no surprise. They speak the language of the people. Their influence did not abate and is still strong coming down through to the new generations.

Ca Ira debut in the Grand Harbour. Photo: Charles Marsh

I am not going into the history of Pink Floyd, I am sure that there are more competent persons to do that and their story is very well documented. What I will highlight is how popular Floyd still are by going through some events, related to the band, that were held in Malta since the beginning of the millennium.


The radio is a very popular medium and sure enough Pink Floyd are one of the bands that hit the airwaves with a certain frequency. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s there were programs that pitted great bands against each other and have the public voting to see who emerges on top. In 2000, on Battle of the Bands, aired on Radio 101, hosted by Noel Mallia and Nigel Camileri, The Beatles triumphed as the most popular group, yet a few years before on Xalata Rock, aired on Super One Radio, Pink Floyd emerged as winners.


In 2004, after much controversy, Malta was ready to officially join the European Union. Welcome Europe consortium was set up to make the night a one to remember and no expenses were spared. On the night between 30th April and 1st May, there are many things to mention but I’ll stick to the highlights. There was an architectural light performance by the world-renowned Ross Ashton, a name synonymous with many artists, especially Pink Floyd. Gert Hof was responsible for the light show and pyrotechnic that lit up the Grand Harbour. Some 40 local acts took part in a ‘music marathon’ on four stages (Ta’ Liesse, Senglea Point and two at Pinto Wharf). After the National Anthem, sung by soprano Miriam Gauci and Tenor Jospeh Calleja, Gert Hof stepped in and created a light monument, a blend of lights and fireworks. This was accompanied by the music from the new opera, Ca Ira, penned by non-other than the former Pink Floyd front man – Roger Waters. Goosebumps. This was actually, the debut for Ca Ira, and the thousands of fans waiting across many countries to listen to Roger Waters opera, were left fuming as the sound came across muted over their television.

Australian Pink Floyd at Luxol Grounds

On Saturday, 25th June 2005, more than 15,000 people turned up at the Luxol Grounds (St. Andrews) to witness the incredible talent of The Australian Pink Floyd Show. In my opinion it was the closest I ever get to the real thing. This was a Floydian greatest hits feast delivered with gusto, not to mention the great visual effects. I remember the huge inflatable kangaroo they used instead of the pig. It was a greatest hits compilation delivered with gusto. No wonder that this show has been lauded by none other than Nick Mason and David Gilmour. The Australian Pink Floyd Show were back in Malta in 2007, as part of the Jazz and Rock Festival and then on July 14th, 2012, they performed at The Granaries (Floriana) as part of their Exposed to the Light world tour. Every time was a unique experience.

Roger Waters live at Luxol, St. Andrews. Photo: Fleeting Glimpse

A year later, on July 10th, 2006, the Luxol Grounds were once again packed, this time to witness the master himself, Roger Waters. During the first part of the concert Waters, accompanied by an eleven-piece band, performed Pink Floyd hits from The Wall, Animals, Wish You Were Here and a few Waters original material. During the second part, Waters and band, performed Pink Floyd’s legendary album, The Dark Side of the Moon, in its entirety. What a night. Two and a half hours of pure bliss.

Through the years several Pink Floyd tribute bands performed on the islands. Not all reached the highest of standards set by The Australian Pink Floyd Show but all of them gave us an entertaining evening none the less. To mention a few the Scandinavian Pink Floyd Project delivered a three-hour set at Ghaxaq Grounds on May 28th, 2010. This event was organized by the St Joseph Band Club to raise money for charity. On May 16, 2012, Think Floyd, from the United Kingdom, participated in the Beland Music Festival in Zejtun, organized by the Beland Band Club. They were back for the fifth edition of the same festival in May 2015.


In 2019, on June 10th, Pink Floyd’s drummer Nick Mason and his band – Saucerful of Secrets – performed at The Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta. This was a unique opportunity to experience the true psychedelic era of Floyd as Mason and band performed songs from the albums The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and A Saucerful of Secrets.

Promo poster featuring original scheduled venue released before this was changed to The Mediterranean Conference Centre

Back to the local scene in 2013 the Malta Rock Movement (MRM), featuring a live band with a big cast of singers and musicians, gave us shows such as The Wall by Pink Floyd, performed at Earth Garden and the Zabbar Music Festival. On July 30th 2014, as part of the Farsons Beer Festival, they gave a performance entitled Wish You Were on the Dark Side, this time focusing on Pink Floyd’s best known albums, Wish You Were Here and the Dark Side of the Moon. We have an abundance of local talent on the rock.

In 2017 the Dark Side Over Gozo, a concert in tribute to Pink Floyd was held at The Aurora Opera House in Victoria. The Gozo Youth Orchestra and the Shola Cantorum Jubilate were under the direction of Maestro Jospeh Grech. Aurora hosted another Pink Floyd themed performance with Not Just the Wall in 2019. In 2020, the Gozo Youth Orchestra, performed Not Just…. The Wall, at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta.


Pink Floyd’s entertainment potential is still strong and this summer (2023) another dose was envisaged. Pink Floyd Celebration would have performed on day one of the Rock the Fort Music Festival, on June 28th, but the festival unfortunately had to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Pink Floyd Tribute – Tea Crisis – were scheduled to perform in Vittoriosa on June 16th and The Scandinavian Pink Floyd Project were back at the Ghaxaq Music Festival (now themed Summer Lust – Ghaxaq Music Events) on 20th May 2023.


The connection between Pink Floyd’s music and the Maltese summer is a long and enduring one, may it continue prospering in the years to come.

References:

Times of Malta, Friday, April 14, 2000 – Page 30

The Sunday Times, April 25, 2004 – Front page

Times of Malta, Monday, May 3, 2004 – Page 48

The Sunday Times, July 3, 2005 – Page 41

Time of Malta, Friday, June 2, 2006 – Page 13

Times of Malta, Monday, July 10. 2006 – Page 5

Times of Malta, Tuesday, July 11, 2006 – Pages 6 & 7

Times of Malta, July 21, 2007 – Weekender Page 16

The Sunday Times, May 16, 2010 – Page 47

The Time of Malta, Friday, May 4, 2012 – Page 19

Times of Malta, August 30, 2012 – www.timesofmalta.com

The Times of Malta, Friday, May 22, 2015 – Page 17

The Times of Malta, Wednesday, May 29, 2019 – Page 17

The Sunday Times, July 13, 2014 – Page 8

The Sunday Times, August 25, 2013 – Page 43

The Times of Malta, Friday, March 17, 2017 - Page 30

The Sunday Times, October 27, 2019 – Page 41

The Times of Malta, Monday, February 24, 2020 – Page 15




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