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LIVE: Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets – Perth, 25th September 2023

| 26 September 2023 | Reply

LIVE: Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets – Perth, 25th September 2023
Riverside Theatre, Perth
Review by Pete Gardner
Photos supplied by band management from a show at London’s Royal Albert Hall, taken by Will Ireland

Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets live @ Royal Albert Hall

Few bands have the lasting influence of Pink Floyd, with all the Floyd albums from Dark Side of the Moon onward being amongst the biggest selling recordings of all time, which makes it easy to forget the seven albums (eight if you include Relics) released prior to DSotM.

Back in 2018, Blockheads guitarist Lee Harris brought together Mason, long time Floyd touring bassist Guy Pratt, Spandau Ballet guitarist Gary Kemp, and keyboard player (and former Rick Wright collaborator) Don Beken together to form The Saucerful of Secrets, taking the early psychedelic era of Floyd on the road. After extensive tours of the UK, Europe and the US the band finally arrived on Australian shores to round out their world tour tonight at Perth’s Riverside Theatre.

The theatre itself is a great venue, with well-designed tiered seating affording the whole audience an unimpeded view of the stage and great acoustics. We arrived early to enjoy a typically overpriced beverage and settled into our seats watching the projections of a late 60’s oil wheel light on the screen as the auditorium fills. Looking at the number of grey hairs (or lack of) in the seats I’m not expecting much of a mosh tonight (but I have been very wrong before…). There is however good representation of Gen-Y and millennials proving there is still a good appetite for the classics among those with a refined palate

The lights go down and the unmistakeable bass riff of One of These Days reverberates through the theatre as the band enters the stage. The show takes off straight to the stratosphere with Harris taking the lead on the lap steel guitar leading into Pratt’s extended swirling bass breakdown before the explosion of light and sound hits the theatre like a Tsunami. This promises to be one hell of a trip.

The next two hours are a treasure trove of familiar favourites and deep cuts from this wonderfully creative era of the band. Without this music there would have been no Dark Side or Animals, as this is the scaffolding upon which those albums were built. Each album is represented, including a wonderful version of Atom Heart Mother beautifully condensed to eight minutes down from the original sprawling 24-minute soundscape, Obscured By Clouds takes on a whole new life with Kemp and Harris on dual slide guitar duty, and tribute is paid to Rick Wright with his song Remember a Day. Gary Kemp’s vocal may not have the exact timbre of Roger Waters, but he is a great fit for the music, all the more obvious on their sublime rendition of Fearless.

Great homage is paid to the genius of Syd Barrett throughout the evening, with a good helping of tracks from Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and the early singles Arnold Layne, and its b-Side, Candy and the Current Bun. (Both songs Mason tells us were banned by the BBC, denying them the opportunity to appear on Top of the Pops) The inclusion of Vegetable Man was a well received surprise, an unfinished Barrett song never before played live by any iteration of Floyd.

The First set closer, Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun, showcases the sheer talent of Mason, with his relentless beating of the toms generating a sound which would normally require a whole tribe of drummers. A touring drummer needs to be incredibly fit, and at 79 Mason obviously still has what it takes for a gruelling world tour.

There has never been a great band without a great drummer (Moon, Watts, Peart, Starr immediately spring to mind) and Mason is one of these greats. His musicianship is nuanced, with an incredible touch and like his great peers, an innate sense of timing, watching him tonight he was effortless behind the kit, hardly breaking a sweat, and not missing a single beat. Like a ninth Dan Sensei he is in total command of his craft.

Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets live @ Royal Albert Hall

The second set starts with Astronomy Domine, setting up a wonderful second half, and cranking it up for The Nile Song gives the band a chance to rock out. Pratt joked about how it is one of his favourite songs of the early era, and when he tried to get Gilmour to include it on his last tour, he was told he should find another band, so he did.

Burning Bridges and Childhoods End from the Obscured by Clouds album are beautiful, and more homage to Barrett is paid with a fun rendition Lucifer Sam, a song about his Siamese cat.

Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets live @ Royal Albert Hall

The first sonar ping raises a great cheer from the audience as Echoes begins. The next twenty minutes are a hypnotic out of body experience as the music soars and band wring unearthly sounds from the instruments, Harris holding his Stratocaster high above his head twisting the tone control back and forth as the guitar wailed through the reversed Wha Wha pedal ( I had to look up on YouTube to discover how he gets that effect), and Pratt doing things to his strings which should have him up for instrument cruelty. As the song came to its close (seemingly way too soon) with the final fading sonar pings the entire audience was on its feet for a standing ovation as the band exited the stage.

Returning swiftly for the encores, See Emily Play was another gem, and the evening is rounded out with A Saucerful of Secrets, another 10 minute trip, again bringing the audience to its feet. Gary Kemp asked if we would like one more before launching into a fun version of Bike to finish the night.

It’s difficult sometimes when writing a review not to sound sycophantic, but there really was nothing to tarnish the night (beyond Guy Pratt getting cranky with people who can’t turn the flash off on their phones, but we’ll let him have that.) Tonight was just that good. If the band ever come this way again, sell the family silver for a ticket.

Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets live @ Royal Albert Hall

It would have been easy to dismiss A Saucerful of Secrets as another Floyd tribute, albeit with Mason on drums, but tonight was so much more. Far from a perusal of a few old antiques, considering these songs are over half a century old, this was the unearthing of great hidden treasures, removing the crust of time to reveal the gold shining through. Mason is on record saying how he wanted to capture the spirit of the music rather than just replicate, and the band achieved this in spades.

Set List

One of These Days
Arnold Layne
Obscured by Clouds
When You’re In
Candy and a Currant Bun
Vegetable Man
Atom Heart Mother
If (Reprise)
Remember a Day (dedicated to Richard Wright)
Set the Controls For The Heart Of The Sun


Astronomy Domine
Nile Song
Burning Bridges
Childhoods End
Lucifer Sam

See Emily Play
Saucerful Of Secrets


Category: Live Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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