Anyone with an interest in experiencing the music of Pink Floyd performed live has been well served during the 21st Century. Leaving aside the multitude of tribute bands who grace clubs, theatres and arenas on a regular basis, there have been several global tours by Roger Waters and more sporadic ones from David Gilmour. What has been recurrent in all of these is the emphasis on material from 1973 – 1979, aka Dark Side to The Wall and the Floyd’s so called golden age. So when Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets came along in 2018, with an exclusive show based on the 1967 – 1972, period it offered an intriguing and mouth-watering prospect for Floyd aficionados.
Anyone who saw the shows back in 2018 will be aware that this is something very special indeed, but by billing this as the Echoes tour this current run offered the tantalising prospect of 1971’s magnum opus being added to the set list. They kicked off however with the pulsating throb of ‘One of These Days’, Guy Pratt wandering on stage and thumping out the opening notes. ‘Arnold Layne’ followed, the first of several Syd Barrett songs to be performed and Gary Kemp continues to be a revelation in the guitarist / vocalist role, channeling the very essence of the 60’s and capturing the moment perfectly.
There is a real attention to detail about the whole performance, from Guy’s Rickenbacker 4001v63 to the collage of sound effects and bubbling, psychedelic visual backdrops. The enthusiasm for the material within the whole band (Nick, Guy and Gary along with Lee Harris and Dom Beken) is exceptional and you get the impression that Nick has never been happier on stage. His amiable between song chat recalled the BBC banning ‘Candy and a Current Bun’ and the erratic recording session for ‘Vegetable Man’, a song they were never really sure how to finish. The first half closed with a mesmerising ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’ and featured Nick on the gong (“which I was never allowed to play when Roger was in the band”).
A stunning ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ began the second set, Lee and Gary going back and forth with the songs shifting rhythms and discordant chords. Obscured By Clouds, a much overlooked release in the Floyd canon, was revisited for ‘Burning Bridges’ and ‘Childhood’s End’ and after Emily came out to play we finally reached the point in the evening many had been anticipating as that ping rang out from Dom’s keyboards. A captivating ‘Echoes’ had all of the ingredients that make the song so special; the sound effects of the sea, the wind, and a submarine, combined with the mellow vocals conjuring thoughts of albatrosses and glorious solos. Prog rock heaven. An encore that started with Guy and Gary bouncing along to ‘Lucifer Sam’, continued with the abstract ‘Saucerful of Secrets’ and concluded with the whimsical ‘Bike’ perfectly summed up the eccentricity of Floyd’s formative years.
Quite possibly the most satisfying concert experience to be associated with the tag ‘Pink Floyd’ for forty odd years, this is show that simply has to been seen to appreciate just how remarkable it truly is.
One of These Days
Obscured by Clouds
When You’re In
Candy and a Currant Bun
Atom Heart Mother
Remember a Day
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
The Nile Song
See Emily Play
A Saucerful of Secrets
Words by Dean Pedley & photos by Rich Ward.