NICK MASON’S A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS
VENUE THE ROUNDHOUSE, LONDON
Nick Mason sets us straight early on. “We’re not the Australian Roger Waters. Or the Danish David Gilmour.” He’s given up waiting for a phone call from his fellow Floyd survivors, he adds. As tonight affirms, he’s making hay while the heart of the sun shines, fully in control. Halfway through an exhilarating show, he jokes that Roger was “not good at sharing”, so the drummer never got to bang the gong at the start of Set The
Controls…. “But tonight,” he declares wryly, “is my night…”
It certainly is, and not just because he gets to bang that gong. The 74-year-old has quipped that it’s akin to playing in his own tribute band, but this unit combines devoted discipline with the confidence to get stuck in. There must be many Floyd-heads here who once decried Spandau Ballet as the root of all evil, but the packed house is whooping as Gary Kemp and Lee Harris (Blockheads) trade twin guitars (carefree axes) on Interstellar
Overdrive. Guy Pratt (bass) has plentiful Floyd experience, and keyboardist Dom Beken subtly fills planes of aural space. The front three share vocals, Kemp’s tempered Cockney traces a fitting fill-in for Syd Barrett, whose image onscreen draws cheers. Mason pays respects to him and to Rick Wright, while Kemp eulogises Mason (“the heartbeat of Pink Floyd”) and Pratt observes, “For many of us, Relics was our introduction to Floyd at school, because it was half-price.”
It was also priceless: the gateway drug. Tonight’s thrilling ride through the early psychedelic material and Barrett’s barbed anti-pop may be, by nature, nostalgia, but it’s also a life-affirming reminder that music can side-wind and surprise.
Whether it’s the mesmeric murmurs of Obscured By Clouds or A Saucerful Of Secrets itself, or the spiky rush of Arnold Layne, See Emily Play or Bike, the ensemble stride that coveted line between replica and sparky exuberance. The sonic epiphanies make you wonder if Floyd invented both Mogwai and Moroder. Worries that they shouldn’t meddle with idealised memories are dissipated when Fearless floats into a transcendent hazy pathos, and
One Of These Days closes with a thumping, dramatic fusion of electro and headbanging rock.
Over half a century since Pink Floyd debuted here at an all-night, acid-addled, “pop-op costume-masque-ball”, much has changed. The venue is cleaner, technology is god and the audience are more likely to have ingested a cheeky half than LSD. Yet your ears don’t lie: there’s more oxygen and fire in these sounds than any number of V&A embalmings. “I hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I have,” says Mason. He and his cohorts have bent time, bringing Floyd’s fertile, avant-garde spirit back to life. The secret’s out.
“TONIGHT IS A LIFE-AFFIRMING REMINDER THAT
MUSIC CAN SIDE-WIND AND
NICK MASON: “THE HEARTBEAT OF PINK FLOYD.”
GUY PRATT (LEFT) AND GARY KEMP TUNE IN AND TRIP OUT.