Still scraping bits of brain matter off the Wiltern Theater’s art deco ceiling after mind-blowing aural/visual assault last night courtesy of Nick Mason & Co’s “Saucerful of Secrets” performance. Mason, of course, is the original drummer and founding member of Pink Floyd. Pulling rare tracks from early gems circa 1967-72; “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, “Saucerful of Secrets”, “More”, and “Obscured by Clouds” he faithfully replicated their notoriously elaborate light show complimenting the intensely psychedelic, acid rock. After drolly explaining his band was ‘…not the Australian Pink Floyd, nor are we the Danish David Gilmour, nor, as someone rather cruelly put it, the Celebrity Antique Road Show” he mentioned Floyd’s inaugural gig at a Venice Beach club in 1967. “I don’t know if any of you were present 50-some years ago at the Cheetah Club. The only thing I remember about it is I think the other band — I wasn’t even sure if it was a band or just a peculiar troupe was Lothar and the Hand People. Anyone remember them?” Crickets.
He and his bandmates then launched into the opening power chords of “Interstellar Overdrive” bathing the audience with sheer sonic majesty that set the tone for the entire evening.
Throughout the show, Mason recounted interesting tidbits of little known minutia regarding his decade’s long tenure with Floyd. “I spent the last 52 years in one particular band working with a particular group of people, one of whom is a great friend, a very talented man, but a bit picky when it comes to sharing,” said Mason. “Mr. Roger Waters was not good at sharing the gong. In the last 52 years, I never ever got to play it. So tonight, it’s a very special night,” he announced, as a prelude to “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” in which he finally got to take his timpani mallets off the drum kit and turn around for a ceremonial bang.
The inclusion of the deepest of deep tracks like Syd Barrett’s “Vegetable Man”, “The Nile Song”, and ‘Arnold Layne” was received with extreme reverence and appreciation by the die-hard pre “Dark Side of the Moon” Floydians. Vintage stills and archival footage of an unrecognizably young Mason, Syd Barrett, and cohorts in various states of bearded scruffiness were projected in layers over the light show during “Arnold Layne”. Mason explained that the group had never actually finished the song “Vegetable Man” back in 1967, because “we ran out of Syd.” Highlights included a stunning version of “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”, a medley of “If,” the instrumental “Atom Heart Mother,” and their first radio hit in the U.K “See Emily Play”. Mason took a moment to introduce his current lineup: Guitarists Lee Harris (sounding very Gilmour-esque) and Gary Kemp (from Spandau Ballet) shared ax duty with verve and panache alternating back and forth from electric and acoustic. Dom Beken (keyboards) channeled the dearly departed Rick Wright tickling the ivories while Guy Pratt laid down the bass guitar licks of ex Floyd Roger Waters. Beken and Pratt also shared vocals during the night.
I think it’s safe to say this is the first time in history any setlist resembling this one has ever existed by Pink Floyd, therefore the once in a life time-ness of it all gave this one hour forty-five minute show significant and quantifiable allure.
OBSCURED BY CLOUDS
WHEN YOU’RE IN
REMEMBER A DAY
ATOM HEART MOTHER
THE NILE SONG
GREEN IS THE COLOUR
LET THERE BE MORE LIGHT
SET THE CONTROLS FOR THE HEART OF THE SUN
SEE EMILY PLAY
ONE OF THESE DAYS
A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS
POINT ME AT THE SKY