Re­set The Con­trols…

Nick Ma­son un­veils the new band he’s formed to play early Pink Floyd ma­te­rial – fronted by Span­dau Bal­let’s Gary Kemp!

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“Our ver­sion of ‘Bike’ is one of the more dif­fi­cult things we’ve tack­led” NICK MA­SON

Those wish­ing to see Pink Floyd’s mu­sic per­formed by the men who recorded it are gen­er­ally re­signed to fre­quent­ing enor­mod­omes. Credit, then, to Nick Ma­son. The Floyd drum­mer is poised to re­vive the group’s rarely heard early ma­te­rial in pubs and clubs, not are­nas. Nick Ma­son’s saucer­ful of se­crets is a band de­signed to ap­peal to early Floyd heads, fea­tur­ing the mu­sic of 1967 to 1972. And there’s one other stag­ger­ing thing about this news: in one of the most un­likely pieces of rock HR man­age­ment since Yes merged with Bug­gles, the role of syd Bar­rett is to be played by… span­dau Bal­let’s Gary Kemp.

“Gary’s not quite tak­ing the place of syd,” Ma­son con­tends. “It was to do with who had the en­thu­si­asm for it, and Gary did. The fact of the mat­ter is that as long as some­one liked the mu­sic, it didn’t mat­ter if they had been in Bana­narama, span­dau Bal­let or Led Zep­pelin.”

Join­ing Kemp and Ma­son are long­time Pink Floyd/David Gil­mour bas­sist Guy Pratt, key­board player Dom Beken and Block­heads gui­tarist Lee har­ris, who had the orig­i­nal idea for the project in 2016.

For now, it’s four Lon­don shows – one at Ding­walls and three at The half Moon in Put­ney, though Ma­son ex­pects there to be more. “I just felt that we needed to see how it went be­fore de­cid­ing what to do. I have no in­ten­tion of world tours in sta­di­ums, but we will move out of pub gigs into some­thing big­ger.”

Fans shouldn’t ex­pect epic sets (“I’m too old”). In­stead, the band have been work­ing up a nine- or 10-song set based on The Piper At The Gates Of

Dawn and A Saucer­ful Of Se­crets, fea­tur­ing tracks un­per­formed by Floyd since the late ’60s, and some that have never been played live, in­clud­ing ma­te­rial from More. “I hope dif­fer­ent el­e­ments will ap­peal to dif­fer­ent peo­ple. some­thing like our ver­sion of ‘Bike’ is one of the more dif­fi­cult things we’ve tack­led. And then there are things like ‘set The Con­trols For The heart of The sun’, just be­cause it’s one of my favourite things to play.”

And, yes, “In­ter­stel­lar over­drive” will fea­ture – the band have been work­ing on a ver­sion com­bin­ing el­e­ments from live record­ings and from the Piper ver­sion – but Ma­son’s hope is that the band will get to the point where they can im­pro­vise like the orig­i­nal Floyd did. “We’re not a tribute band,” Ma­son says. “It’s not im­por­tant to play the songs ex­actly as they were, but to cap­ture the spirit.” he’s dis­cov­ered, too, for­got­ten com­plex­ity in some of the old Floyd songs: “It’s ex­tra­or­di­nary, the con­struc­tion of some of the songs. some­thing like ‘see emily Play’ is bro­ken up in an un­usual way: it’s not just verse-cho­rus-ver­se­cho­rus-mid­dle-eight-verse-cho­rus. And some of the songs are even more bizarre in their struc­ture.”

The show comes with the bless­ing of Gil­mour and Roger Wa­ters (“I don’t think it was nec­es­sary to ask per­mis­sion – they’ve never asked me – but it was good man­ners and they were both re­ally sup­port­ive”) and Ma­son is happy for any­one to spec­u­late that one or other of them might make an ap­pear­ance, be­fore adding that re­mark is “for the ben­e­fit of ticket sales”. For now, though, Ma­son is wrap­ping his head round the prob­lem of how to fit a drum kit the size of a small eu­ro­pean prin­ci­pal­ity onto pub stages. so re­mem­ber: care­ful with that pint, eugene.

into over­drive: Pink Floyd at a press con­fer­ence in Lon­don, March 1967

See Gary play: Kemp and Ma­son in re­hearsal

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