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Review: Gary Hodges Photos: Will Ireland

 Arriving at the venue there was a palpable vibe of anticipation and excitement with people queued around the block. Quite possibly over a thousand people. Big numbers for this stylish Melbourne venue.

Moving inside the building the audience was greeted with a full stage layout complete with retro backdrop, a sign of what was to come.

As the lights dimmed some audio chatter emerged from the stage, heightening (in a typical Floyd way) the concert atmosphere.

At last, some prog rock history in the flesh. This early portion of the Pink Floyd catalogue, developed and led by band co-founder Syd Barrett, has literally been lying dormant in a live sense for many years. A chance suggestion by Lee Harris to Nick Mason has brought us all to this point tonight.

Nick Mason and band took their positions on the stage to a great reception. Nick Mason, the man of the moment on drums, Lee Harris on guitar and vocals, Gary Kemp on guitar and vocals, Dom Beken on keys/ synths and vocals, and Guy Pratt on bass and vocals. All experienced industry veterans. People were ready for this.

First off was ‘One of These Days’. Guy Pratt’s signature bass line set the tone for the mammoth shuffling groove that was to follow. What a great starting point. Cue the lightshow and a big band sound and psychedelic imagery.

Next was ‘Arnold Layne’, a crowd favourite. Gary Kemp led this song vocally with harmonies and support from Guy Pratt. Really nice retro organ from Dom Beken, amidst some quirky imagery of Nick from the old days.

‘Fearless’ followed featuring Gary Kemp leading proceedings on acoustic guitar. Great harmonies combined with field recordings of Liverpool fans chanting.

The backdrop screen images of clouds heralded the arrival of ‘Obscured by Clouds’. Dom Beken’s spacey synth intro built the atmosphere really well before the rest of the band joined in. Duelling unison slide guitar playing from Gary Kemp and Lee Harris gave this piece of music a real rock edge.

And so, the songs flowed through, ‘When You’re in’, ‘Candy and the Currant bun’ and ‘Vegetable Man’.

As we moved towards the end of the first set, ‘Atom Heart Mother’ (boarded each side by the song ‘If’ and some beautiful singing by Gary Kemp) was treated to some pretty dramatic on-stage psychedelic creativity.

‘Remember a Day’ was introduced and sung by Guy Pratt as a dedication to his father in law, the late Rick Wright, keyboardist and long standing member of Pink Floyd. Before commencing this song, Guy mentioned that he had actually played this venue when working with Australian band Icehouse. Interesting.

The final song of this part of the concert was ‘Set the Controls For The Heart of the Sun’. Complete with a gong and a humorous fake phone call with Roger Waters about the whereabouts of said gong, this piece of music really took the audience back to the late 60s and the UFO based London Club that was the epitome of psychedelia in all it’s glory. Again, incredible band dynamics working in sync with a very effective lightshow and colourful backdrop.

After a short break the second half of the concert swung into action with ‘Astronomy Domine’ and Gary Kemp and Lee Harris trading guitar licks and building a venerable rock vibe.

The set kept building with ‘The Nile Song’, ‘Burning Bridges’ and ‘Childhood’s End’, before unleashing the classic descending riff that underpins ‘Lucifer Sam’. This has to be one of the classiest guitar riffs of all time. What a joy for these musicians to play these quality pieces of music.

The final portion of the second set was reserved for ‘Echoes’. The audience had been waiting for this sprawling Pink Floyd classic moment. In the studio ‘Echoes’ goes for something like 23 minutes. Tonight’s performance certainly gave the studio version a run for it’s money. Dom Beken and Gary Kemp traded lines, while Lee Harris was creative in his use of feedback. The power coming from Nick’s drums and the band as a whole was muscular and tight and had to be heard to be believed. Very impressive, particularly within the psychedelic context. Guy Pratt’s bass solo contribution was inspired and timely as ‘Echoes’ drew to a close. Extraordinary.

After taking a few bows, the band entered the encore space and were back with ‘See Emily Play’. Again, they sounded incredibly tight. What a versatile band. What a group of skilled musicians each playing their role in delivering these whimsical songs and instrumental offerings in a respectful way to Syd Barrett’s original vision. Was Syd Barrett compositionally the forerunner to Frank Zappa?

The encore closed with another dose of psychedelia in ‘Saucerful of Secrets’ and then a short punchy version of ‘Bike’ complete with bike imagery coming off the backscreen.

All in all, a pleasure to have been transported back in time to a place where imagination and stream of consciousness ideas collided with new music that was culturally and sonically challenging.

Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets will again be multiplying the fish and dividing the loaves at the Forum tonight, 17/9.

Remaining dates:

Sunday 17 September – Melbourne, Forum Theatre

Tuesday 19 September – Brisbane Convention Exhibition Centre

Thursday 21 & Friday 22 September – Sydney, Enmore Theatre

Monday 25 September – Perth, Riverside Theatre

For tickets and tour information visit           

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