At The Barrier were out in force at Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets show last Friday. Our man Howard wanted to add to Dom’s review (read here) with his own view…
‘Games For May’ – Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets – Manchester Apollo – 6th May 2022
Japanese artist Hokusai’s artwork adorned the stage, drum kit, and T-shirt to set the atmospheric scene as the countdown merged into the familiar opening to One Of These Days with some wonderful slide pedal steel guitar work from Lee Harris and Nick’s driving beat provided the impetus for a grand opening.
Gary Kemp took the lead vocals for Arnold Layne as the focus remained on Nick with a hairier, younger Nick dominating the backdrop. A long cosmic sound effect opening brought up the underrated Obscured By Clouds with some stunning slide guitar from Gary Kemp.
As we made another visit to the Meddle album with Fearless, the Kop crowd singing You’ll Never Wall Alone received mild respect from the Manchester crowd. It was startling that there were multiple guitar changes by Lee, Guy and Gary as all three changed guitar on the first three pieces of the set .
A pair of Syd Barrett’s quirky tunes Let’s Roll Another One and Vegetable Man followed with interesting anecdotes that the former was re-titled to suit TV fussy execs and the latter was never completed, hence the sudden ending.
Sandwiched between the beginning and end of If came excerpts from Atom Heart Mother. The baroque style keyboard playing and the choral parts replicated by the keyboard wizard Dom Beken was a feature of this. Lee Harris’ bluesy guitar bits seemed funkier than the original, showing the SOS arrangements of our favourite classics is the essence of what they are about. Homage to the originals but this is how we want to play them! All the original effects, motorbike and all, were there as they were in the first set’s final piece, Set the Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, which was played with all the mysticism and frenzy of the original.
If we had then had a power cut and had to leave I’d have already had my money’s worth but amazingly the second half began with Astronomy Domine and Interstellar Overdrive merged into an orgasmic cosmic trip as Lee Harris’ guitar work added structure to the mind-bending chaos.
A raucous version of the Nile Song and from earlier in the night a tribute to Rick Wright with Remember A Day brought memories of late nights listening to Floyd’s cheapest album Relics before we returned to Obscured By Clouds with a tranquil Burning Bridges, which after Gary’s screaming vocals in the Nile Song left me thinking, “Why does it have to be so quiet?” Childhood’s End completed the unexpected visit to Obscured By Clouds but this clearly fitted in with the evocative stage scenery.
Lucifer Sam, a regular in SOS setlist preceded what was clearly the highlight of the night. The revamped version of Echoes stunned the amazed crowd and almost completed the playing of the entire Meddle album. (Incidentally, back in the day, I was able to afford this album because I’d backed Red Rum in the Grand National and spent my winnings on the album.) The band replicated all the amazing sounds and Dom Beken excelled again with bluesy keyboard. This re-invented Echoes along with the awesome oceanic scene backdrop was as inventive as all those Floyd concerts, which never ceased to amaze.
Rapturous applause greeted the band and was well deserved. We were rewarded with an encore of See Emily Play, Saucerful Of Secrets accompanied by the type of psychedelic light show that Floyd pioneered at the outset in the 60’s but thanks to technological advances are now on a much greater scale. A sing-a-long to Bike completed most wonderful performance.
An evening that matched the wonder of many Floyd concerts but it goes to show you can’t please everyone – I overheard a remark on the way out that they didn’t play half of what Pink Floyd usually does. A thought that just left me Comfortably Numb!