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Nick Mason Sets The Controls For The Heart Of New York

Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets returned to The Beacon Theatre in NYC on Wednesday, October 12. The band formed in 2018 to perform the early music of Pink Floyd. It consists of Pink Floyd co-founder and drummer Nick Mason, bassist Guy Pratt, guitarists Gary Kemp and Lee Harris and keyboardist Dom Beken. Mason’s idea was to bring Pink Floyd’s pre The Darkside of the Moon material to a broader audience.

Although The Darkside of the Moon was Pink Floyd’s most popular album, there were actually seven albums that preceded it. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was Floyd’s debut album. It was released in 1967 and is the only Pink Floyd album created under the leadership of founding member Syd Barrett. During the second album, A Saucerful of Secrets, Barrett’s mental health deteriorated. Syd left the band before the completion of the album and David Gilmour joined. “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” was the only song on the album featuring all five members.

Nick Mason may not have the same name recognition as Waters or Gilmour, but this show is just as good. I had forgotten how many fantastic pre Darkside hits the band has. The show started with “One of These Days,” the opening track from the 1971 album Meddle. After that they performed Pink Floyd’s first single released in 1967, “Arnold Layne.” Gary Kemp’s vocals really did this song justice as it sounded almost identical to the original. They continued with “Obscured by Clouds,” the title track of the 1972 album, and “When You’re In.”

The next portion of the show was devoted to the album Atom Heart Mother. This was Pink Floyd’s fifth studio album, and the first to reach number 1 in the UK. The album was recorded at EMI studios which is now known as Abbey Road Studios. It is also the first album not to feature any photos of the band anywhere, nor their name on the cover. They performed the title track to the album as well as “If”. The first set ended with the psychedelic “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.”

After a short break, set two started with “Astronomy Domine,” the opening track on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Hallucinatory images of red ooze and trippy lasers flashed in synch to the music. The second set also revisited Obscured by Clouds with “Burning Bridges” and “Childhood’s End.” The highlight of set two and perhaps the entire show was “Echos.” For the first time of the show, the entire audience was on their feet. They included every detail from the opening “ping” to the high pitched screeching noise. Kemp and Pratt’s vocals on this were just as good as the original version’s Gilmour and Wright. This was the culmination of set two.

The crowd remained standing for the rest of the show. “See Emily Play” was the first song of the encore. The show ended with the band’s namesake “Saucerful of Secrets” and again paying tribute to Syd Barrett with “Bike” which Nick Mason considers one of Barrett’s best songs.

The band finally restarted touring in April after postponing due to the pandemic. They also have a ton of upcoming dates in the states as well as Ireland, the UK and Europe. You can see the complete list of all upcoming dates here.

Setlist: One of These Days, Arnold Layne, Fearless, Obscured by Clouds, When You’re In, Candy and a Currant Bun, Vegetable Man, If, Atom Heart Mother, If (Reprise), Remember a Day, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, Astronomy Domine, The Nile Song, Burning Bridges, Childhood’s End, Lucifer Sam, Echoes, See Emily Play, A Saucerful of Secrets, Bike

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