What does a musician do when their beloved band breaks up? Over the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of musicians putting together “tribute” bands. Some, such as Peter Hook & The Light and Pylon Reenactment Society, occasionally release new material. Others, such as Flag and From The Jam, simply stick to the original material. In 2018 Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason put together his own tribute band, Saucerful of Secrets. Understandable, as Mason was the only Pink Floyd member from beginning to end. For this band, Mason specifically kept the setlist focused on pre-Dark Side Of The Moon material. He also chose to focus on rarely played material from the early days, in order to deliver a unique live experience. These decisions resulted in a superb performance, as documented by the recent release Live At The Roundhouse.
For their shows, Mason and company selected material from every pre-Dark Side album save for Ummagumma. Unsurprisingly, Syd Barrett-era material constitutes the bulk of the 22 song setlist. Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp handles the vocals, delivering “See Emily Play,” “Bike,” and “Arnold Lane” with both reverence and aplomb. The band even pull out the Pink Floyd outtake “Vegetable Man,” and the audience goes wild. Interestingly, Live At The Roundhouse’s opener “Interstellar Overdrive,” offers the only weak spot. . Though live performances of the song in its heyday could easily stretch past the twenty-minute mark, at nearly six minutes it feels woefully incomplete.
But it’s understandable why they don’t dwell too long there; they have too much great music to perform. And they perform it quite well, too; nothing here sounds dated or half-assed. Nick and his band give their all, resulting in renditions of long-established favorites such as “Fearless,” “Remember A Day,” and “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”. “One Of These Days,” one of the only songs to survive in the post-Dark Side Pink Floyd setlists, simply showers the listener with intensity and aggressiveness. Oh, and dig “The Nile Song” for an ironic reference to one of Pink Floyd’s avowed enemies. These arrangemennts feel fresh and contemporary, and
Watching the DVD of the live set, the excitement and pure joy on Nick Mason’s face says it all. This project might be a chance to present unfamiliar Pink Floyd material in a live setting, ultimately, it’s about having fun. While the world’s current situation may or may not put paid to further performances remains to be seen. Until then, Live At The Roundhouse serves as a superb document of one of rock’s most surprising tributes.
PS. Evidence exists that shows the only major way Mason could make this already fantastic project better. Roger Waters on vocals? It happened. Dream on, of course–but never say never!
Purchase Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets Live At The Roundhouse: Legacy Recordings