Last weekend we headed to Birmingham for a much-postponed (thanks to the pandemic) treat – a concert by Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets.
For anyone who doesn’t follow prog rock, Mason is a brilliant rock drummer who formed one quarter of the original line-up of Pink Floyd. Recently he’s put together his own band, including other rock legends such as Guy Pratt and Gary Kemp, to play some of Floyd’s older material. As he himself said, the other surviving members of the group tend to focus on Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall, but Floyd was so much more than that. It’s also his own tribute to tortured genius Syd Barrett, the front man of the original band, who wrote much of that early material.
We booked the concert pre-pandemic and had to sit on our hands while it was postponed about four times. This time, we were so used to being disappointed we hardly dared hope, but as it was, we arrived at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall clutching our tickets to find it was all happening at last.
Was it worth the two year wait? Yes, absolutely it was. Every last second was amazing, brilliant, masterful – and surprisingly good fun. Unlike the original band, who even a fan like me has to admit could occasionally be a bit po-faced, Saucerful of Secrets are a lot more relaxed and even, at times, mischievous. In between numbers, Mason provided entertaining snippets looking back at the history of the band and some of the songs they played. Like Vegetable Man, for instance, which he freely admitted was never recorded because it was never finished, because none of them had a clue how to finish it!
The highlight of the night was a complete, unabridged, and pretty much note-perfect rendition of Echoes, possibly the first Floyd track to really sound like Floyd, if you know what I mean. It’s one of my favourites, and I sat utterly spellbound for the 25 minutes it took to play. I could almost have been back in the 1970s, before all the splits and acrimony, listening to the Pink Floyd of old. A very special treat, and one I hope we can repeat some day.
The photo above isn’t mine, sadly – we took a few on a mobile phone, but the lights were so bright the lens focused on those rather than the band members, so all it really looks like is a lightning strike. This pic is courtesy of The Midlands Rocks.