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Live Report: Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets at the Roundhouse
Jeremy Allen , October 4th, 2018 12:31

Nick Mason is back at London’s Roundhouse, 52 years after Pink Floyd played there on a milk float at the International Times launch party

Photo by Jill Furmanovsky

If Live8 took some of the edge off the appetite for a Pink Floyd reformation, then Saucerful of Secrets negate the need for one. Floyd drummer Mason has gone back to the source and started from scratch with a handful of musicians, improvising and oscillating and exchanging blows with material from the earliest works. The MO is experimentation. Saucerful Of Secrets aren’t a stuffed museum piece, they’re a living, breathing beast with ten legs and arms, playful and curious.

Opener ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ with its un-pop-like ABA structure, captures the inchoate wonder of space travel. Feedback is maximised and controlled, and with Mason driving behind you can almost feel the g-force and the meteors bouncing off the ship. At the other end of the set, another instrumental, ‘One of These Days’, channels their sci-fi smarts into an irresistible groove. It dangerously encroaches upon Floyd in their indomitable 70s era, but it’s so good that all is forgiven. ‘Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun’ starts with a giant gong that becomes a meditive drone passing through a cosmic field of pure noise before coming out the other side, returning back to the gong.

Of course, the classic Syd Barrett songs steal the show. ‘Bike’ is beautifully unhinged, ‘See Emily Play’ is diaphanous and psychedelic, ‘Arnold Lane’ has a vitality that takes you by surprise, with Kemp’s and Guy Pratt’s close harmonies executed with a brio that makes you want to punch the air. Only Roger Waters’ ‘Green Is The Colour’ is a bit trad and soggy. ‘Vegetable Man’ gets an outing, too - a song Mason says was destined for a A Saucerful of Secrets, only they “ran out of Syd before it was finished”. At this point a picture of Barrett appears on the backdrop, a moment for us to remember his influence and his genius. But this isn’t a show for looking back, despite much of the material being over a half century old. Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets are moving inexorably forward, and there are plans for more shows - and who knows, maybe some new material. You wouldn’t bet against it from a band this indomitable.