25 June 2022 (gig)
27 June 2022
Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets are here in Lucca, a beautiful Tuscan town still with its city walls jealously guarding its wonderful piazza’s. Indeed we are in one of the squares, Piazza Napoleone, on this hot summer’s night. It’s worth taking time out to talk about the band. Nick Mason has put together a five piece ensemble playing early Pink Floyd songs ranging from their first ever single ‘Arnold Layne’ to the ‘Obscured By Clouds’ 1972 album release that predates the legendary ‘Dark Side Of The Moon ‘ album by a year. They are a mixed bunch aiming to generate curiosity, to infuse the songs with their indubitable talent, and indeed the word out on the street is of an adventurous and dynamic band. Gary Kemp on guitar lead vocals, Guy Pratt on bass and lead vocals, Lee Harris guitar and vocals, Dom Beken keyboards and technical wizard, and obviously Nick Mason on drums. Gary is Mr Spandau Ballet, Guy a top session bass player and Pink Floyd/Dave Gilmour bassist since the 90’s who together are responsible for my favourite musical podcast, The Rockonteurs ( do check it out). Lee was guitarist with the marvellous Blockheads and indeed it was he who suggested to Nick that playing Syd Barret songs would be both a success and a gas at the same time. Dom has even worked with Richard Wright.
On the dot of 9pm as on the programme, the band open the show and indeed the Lucca Summer Festival 22 with the classic ‘One Of These Days’, opening track from Pink Floyd’s 1971 album ‘Meddle’ The next part of the set is largely devoted to Syd with ‘Arnold Layne ‘ and its B-side ‘Candy And The Currant Bun’ performed admirably, along with an unreleased Syd Barrett cut, ‘Vegetable Man’ that as Nick explains “ never mind Roger Walters or Dave Gilmour, not even The Australian Pink Floyd or Brit Floyd have ever attempted it.” Indeed, when Nick Mason talks to the crowd during the concert, his dry, tongue in cheek mannerisms and inflections when talking about the Floyd boys or the songs, are both warming and endearing.
Italian Floyd fans are a special breed, like Liverpool fans, the team (songs) seemingly belonging to them as much as to the players (band). The Secrets are aware of this genuine joy and appreciation and the band’s enthusiasm is evident as the night unfolds. There is great camaraderie and “bon humour” onstage. After the magnificent couplet of ‘If’ and ‘Atom Heart Mother’ the first part of the set ends with a simply captivating ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun’.
After a 20 minute break, the band return with ‘Astronomy Devine’. Tracks such as ‘Burning Bridges’ and ‘Lucifer Sam’ follow with the band letting loose. If Pink Floyd is this well-oiled magnificent machine of seamless perfection, the Saucerful of Secrets are more gritty, allowing for nuances, feel and edge to creep into the mix. Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon to Pink Floyd’s USS Enterprise, but it makes for a hell of a ride especially with some impressive visual effects on display on the backdrop and screens. The second set ends with an enthralling ‘Echoes’, side 2 of Pink Floyd’s ‘Meddle’ album, with Gary kemp and Dom Beken intuitive and engaging in their adventurous interplay.
After encores ‘See Emily Play’, ‘A Saucerful Of Secrets’ and a very jovial ‘Bike’ ,the band take many a bow and some well-earned applause. I get the feeling this is one of the most satisfactory projects of Nick Mason’s long career, and he should rightly be proud of its success.
One of These Days
When You're In
Candy and a Currant Bun
Atom Heart Mother
Remember a Day
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
The Nile Song
See Emily Play
A Saucerful of Secrets