Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets – Live at the Gamle Scene, Royal Theatre, Copenhagen

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I had passed many times by the Kongens Nytorv Square in Copenhagen, which the Old Stage overlooks. Still, I knew very little about one of the historical buildings of this beautiful city.

For instance, I didn’t know that it was completed in 1874 after months of delays and over the budget – which led to the impeachment of several ministers – next to the previous Royal Theater, which had turned out to be impractical and ugly after several rounds of renovations. I also didn’t know that the older theatre had a problem with rats coming from the canals, and which crawled at night and hung from the curtains. The audience had to beat them in order to see the performance.  What a show that would have been! No problem with that anymore…

Built in a baroque style, the Old Stage is apparently used primarily for ballet performances. I guess the audience is wearing formal clothes and there is a chance to see the royal family in the audience. But not today. Today it was Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets, the band of the drummer of Pink Floyd, and the audience, queuing outside the front gate were people averaging from 40 to 75 (by a quick look) dressed mostly in regular rock wear.

Of course, the building still had its outworldly magic. As one entered from the front entrance of the Old Stage and could take the short staircase to the right or to the left, leading to the hemicyclical perimetrical corridor of the parquet. Peering inside one of the many doors to the parquet, beyond all the seats, the stage was set, the drumkit stood gloriously – and the gong – under a blue hue. Four levels of hemicyclical balconies loomed over the parquet. A separate balcony at the first floor was reserved for the royal family – it was empty today. No psychedelic rockers there…

Back to the corridor and taking the staircase to the first floor, one could feel the ambience had not changed much in the last century. A large high-ceiling room with baroque atmosphere had the paper sign for “Merchandise” at its entrance, and a regular wall with t-shirts, books and other merchandise, predominantly the Echoes photo t-shirt with the shadow portrait of the young bearded Mason.

In theatre tradition – or I guess school tradition also – the bell rang for everyone to take their seats. The theatre was almost packed with around 1300 people. Only a few seats at the fourth floor were not taken. Me and a couple more photographers stood at the right side of the stage with our cameras ready. The show was about to start. Around 20:00 , the band came on stage and kicked off with One of These Days. Lights and psychedelic projections, and the early sounds of Pink Floyd made us forget we were at a baroque Theatre!

The acoustics were fantastic – the sound, without being too loud, was amazingly clear and rich. Brought up memories from the Herodus Atticus Theatre in Athens. The exceptionally well-tuned band consisted of Nick Mason, who is 78 by the way, on drums, Don Beken on keyboards, Lee Haris and Gary Kemp on guitars, and Guy Pratt on bass…

…and in a great mood, joking with each other and especially during the band presentation. Although Nick Mason looks serious in the photos, and throughout the concert actually, he joked with english wit the few times he took the microphone between songs. He explained for example that although his wife is half Danish, he never learnt a word, so he has to speak English instead . When he introduced the “Candy and a Currant Bun”, he playfully reminded us that it was originally called “Let’s Roll Another One”. Or when he introduced the last song of the first part, “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” as the song that features the gong. All those years it was Roger Waters playing the gong. Now it is finally Mason’s time: “Now it’s mine” he exclaimed. “My precious”, I would add…

The show, focusing on albums and singles before 1973 and featuring many songs by Syd Barrett, lasted a bit more than two hours, split in two roughly equal parts plus the encore. The trip ended with See Emily Play, A Saucerful of Secrets, and Bike. Without any exit pandemonium, we all left the baroque building with the psychedelic sounds and came back to reality. The night was cool but pleasant.

When I went home, I put the Live at the Roundhouse to play. I was back at the Old Stage…

George Anasontzis

Setlist

Part 1: 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

Part 2: Interstellar Overdrive, Astronomy Domine, The Nile Song, Burning Bridges, Childhood’s End, Lucifer Sam, Echoes

Encore: See Emily Play, A Saucerful of Secrets, Bike