Friday, October 2, 2020

Nick Mason: Live At The Roundhouse

The Pink Floyd tribute band industry has been thriving for decades now, making room for any number of outfits in addition to such successful franchises as Brit Floyd, The Machine, and The Australian Pink Floyd Show. So it was both surprising and fitting that drummer Nick Mason, of all people, who’s the only man to appear on every Floyd album, would launch a tribute band of sorts.
With the fantastical moniker of Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets, this five-piece combo was formed to celebrate the Floyd of the pre-Dark Side Of The Moon years—basically the music on the various volumes of The Early Years. Most of the songs in their repertoire were not performed at all by the post-1987 Floyd, and some barely made it to the stage at all when they were new. Between the economy of the lineup and the capabilities of modern stage equipment, these versions are as faithful as they are passionate.
Live At The Roundhouse, a combination CD/DVD or Blu-ray set, provides the evidence. On bass is Guy Pratt, who held the same job through the Waters-less years. One of the guitarists is Gary Kemp, best known from Spandau Ballet, of all bands. Both sing lead, and neither attempt to emulate the original vocalist(s). And Nick Mason himself, who’s barely played drums this century and was never really known as the most dynamic player, shows an awful lot of energy.
The songs are paced well, bouncing between some very different albums. “Interstellar Overdrive” is something of an overture, the freakout section incorporating elements of “Let There Be More Light” and “The Narrow Way”, going into “Astronomy Domine”. “Lucifer Sam” suffers a bit from Guy Pratt’s wacky asides, but there’s still no beating that riff. (A Sex Pistols reference is somehow shoehorned into “The Nile Song”, too.) Obscured By Clouds finally gets its due, with a few tracks scattered throughout the set. An abridgement of “Atom Heart Mother Suite” is bookended by verses from the starkly acoustic “If”, and “A Saucerful Of Secrets” itself is tackled and conquered. Syd Barrett is not ignored, from all of the early singles to “Bike” and the ultra-rare “Vegetable Man”. “Point Me At The Sky” is the wild card of an encore.
Lots of aging rock stars get pigeonholed into the living tribute act category, and it’s moot whether this set will woo the skeptical. But Live At The Roundhouse is a unique snapshot of an era that often gets overlooked, and even more fun to watch.

Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets Live At The Roundhouse (2020)—

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