This Pink Floyd tribute band definitely passed the acid trip.
Except maybe it’s not fair to call Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets a bona fide Floyd tribute band.
“We are not the Australian Roger Waters nor the Danish David Gilmours,” Mason joked Wednesday at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.
It’s an inside joke because Mason, who was Pink Floyd’s drummer forever, knows about Floyd bassist Waters’ flourishing arena tours and Floyd guitarist Gilmour’s continuing career as well as the various touring tribute groups such as the Australian Pink Floyd and Brit Floyd.
All the material Mason’s new band played was from the Pink Floyd catalog. Except the selections mostly predated the 1973 epic “Dark Side of the Moon,” one of the biggest-selling albums of all time. Mason mined material from 1967 to ’72, including tunes from the Rock Hall of Fame band’s second album, “Saucerful of Secrets.”
Some of the music was so noisy and angsty that it felt like Punk Floyd. Maybe it’s best, though, to dub Mason’s new quintet Pre Floyd. Because this concert showcased the experimental, often psychedelic sounds before Floyd ascended to classic-rock immortality with prog-rock grandeur.
The 1 3/4-hour performance certainly appealed to hardcore Floyd fans who got to experience some selections that the heyday band never performed live and many that had been missing for years and years – and especially with tribute bands.
Of course, Floyd itself had long been a shadow of its former self, with singer Syd Barrett bailing in 1968, keyboardist Richard Wright exiting in 1979, bassist Waters leaving in 1985 and then guitarist Gilmour carrying on with various players on and off until 2014.
Mason last toured with Floyd 25 years ago, and the vintage lineup – including the estranged Waters -- did a reunion gig for the Live 8 charity in 2005. Barrett and Wright have since died.
At the Orpheum, Mason, 75, looked like a proper English gentleman in his crisp white shirt and black trousers. He mentioned previous Pink Floyd gigs in the Twin Cities including one at the Metrodome after the Twins won the World Series.
He seemed to compete with his two singers -- bassist Guy Pratt and guitarist Gary Kemp -- to see who had the drollest wit.
Mason mused about how wonderful Waters was except he had a slight character flaw: He wouldn’t let Mason play the gong. But the drummer finally got his chance on Wednesday on “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.”
Pratt, who toured with Floyd after Waters left, talked about suggesting “The Nile Song” for a Gilmour solo tour. “David suggested perhaps I’d like to play for another band,” Pratt pointed out. “And now I do.”
Kemp, best known as the singer in the hitmaking 1980s British pop group Spandau Ballet, reminisced about seeing Pink Floyd as a kid when Mason was the only thing moving onstage “except for the inflatables,” referring to balloon characters. Mason did not respond with a rim shot.
Really, though, Mason’s first solo project was all about the music – and some ‘60s style whirling lights presented with ‘10s equipment and, of course, some old-school oil slides.
The sounds were diverse, including the acid garage-rock “Interstellar Overdrive”; the psychedelic instrumental “Atom Heart Mother” featuring Lee Harris’ slide guitar; the heavy-duty “Nile Song”; the gentle “Green Is the Colour”; the trippy “See Emily Play”; the Beatles-y “Children’s End”; the hard-hitting “Bike”; the unfinished Barrett novelty “Vegetable Man,” and the monstrous “One of These Days.”
All in all, this was a modest Floydian trip worth taking for both hard-core and casual fans.