The Tempodrom, Berlin
Nick Mason & His Saucerful Of Secrets (as they’re actually called) currently play a European tour, and in Berlin they stopped at the Tempodrom, a venue that usually hosts the likes of Steven Wilson, Bob Dylan or Nick Cave. Not bad for a combo that’s only existed for a couple of months.
It starts with ominous sounds – animal noises, weird bleeps, voices from outer space – and before you can think it’s The Orb gone mad there’s the familiar riff of “Interstellar Overdrive”. As played by Sonic Youth. It’s quite clear that this is not yer regular cover band or a cosy nostalgia evening: these five men play with a joy and energy as if they’ve just finished recording their first album.
Everything in these songs is intact and recognizable (no reggae version of “Lucifer Sam” no sirree!), but there are different solos, arrangements are shuffled about, and the two lead singers often divide the vocal parts between them (much like The Move on their sixties singles). Yet every single tune has one or two pleasant surprises – like the tiny Sex Pistols quote in “The Nile Song” – and the biggest surprise for me was when they played a lovely “If” and the instrumental middle part turned into a 20-minute medley of “Atom Heart Mother” sections (grown men had tears in their eyes when they heard “Funky Dung”…).
Fantastic. And they played “Vegetable Man”.
Many old couples of the retired geography teacher variety, lots of black T-shirts on fat bellies (they’ve all seen “Roger Waters Plays The Wall” apparently), and a few hip youngsters who clearly didn’t recognize anything from “Obscured By Clouds” or “Meddle”. And I’ve seen a few of those scarves from the Immersion boxes.
It made me think..
The band (“We’re not The Danish Dave Gilmours!”) obviously had the time of their lives. Nick Mason from time to time hopped off the drum riser for a bit of chat: “Roger Waters is a dear friend of mine, but he always had a problem… with sharing the gong. Now finally, this is my night!” And he proceeded to play a gong solo.