Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason serves up the band’s deep cuts with Saucerful of Secrets | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason serves up the band’s deep cuts with Saucerful of Secrets

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If you’re a fan of Pink Floyd’s most iconic albums, such as Animals and The Wall, you may have plunked down some cash to see Roger Waters in his solo show or caught David Gilmour the last time he was in town. But if you’ve got an appetite for Floyd’s early trippy material, drummer Nick Mason (aka “the heartbeat of Pink Floyd”) might be more your cup of tea. He’s currently touring as the leader of a quintet billed as Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets, which includes Spandau Ballet guitarist Gary Kemp, longtime Pink Floyd touring bassist Guy Pratt, guitarist Lee Harris, and keyboardist Dom Beken. Mason, who cofounded Pink Floyd with Waters, keyboardist Richard Wright, and guitarist Syd Barrett in 1965, shaped the group with his jazz and big-band influences and remained a constant from their prog-rock beginnings through their mainstream success (with some lineup changes) in the 80s and beyond. He also co-wrote some of the band’s best-known songs, such as “Time,” from 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon. But though he released music without his Pink Floyd bandmates, including a handful of collaborative projects and a solo outing called Nick Mason’s Fictitious Sports in 1981, Mason had never toured without Pink Floyd until last year. (In fact, outside of a Pink Floyd reunion set at London’s Live 8 concert in 2005, Mason spent about 25 years playing out only sporadically while pursuing passions like piloting helicopters and racing sports cars.) Unlike Waters and Gilmour, who tend to stick to post–Dark Side of the Moon material in their solo shows, Saucerful of Secrets focuses on Floyd material from 1967 to 1972—some of which Mason hasn’t played live in 40 years since he started the band. This means he's dishing up ditties from albums such as The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Obscured by Clouds, as well as—you guessed it—A Saucerful of Secrets. The set list spotlights Mason’s drum work and allows him to finally bang the gong on “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”—a bit of theatricality that Waters used to perform in live shows. Though the light show remains, the quintet has eschewed the stadium-size venues and over-the-top spectacle that marked Floyd concerts (translation: don’t expect any flying pigs) in favor of relatively intimate settings. Hard-core fans may wonder whether Mason can still hit the skins at age 75, but the reviews have been stellar since the tour kicked off last September, so anyone who can nab some tickets should leave feeling satisfied.  v

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