Looking Forward to Saucerful of Secrets at Budapest Park
Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason in action at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Photo by Will Ireland.
Photo by Will Ireland.
On May 30, Saucerful of Secrets was due to play Budapest Park. Formed in 2018 purely to perform Pink Floyd’s early music, Saucerful of Secrets brings the band’s pre-“Dark Side of the Moon” material to an audience who, unless they’re of a certain vintage, won’t have heard it performed live.
The band made its debut in May 2018 at Dingwalls, London. A 2020 European tour was planned, but then postponed due to the pandemic.
Saucerful of Secrets concentrates on the more atmospheric, peculiar material Pink Floyd recorded, including out-there numbers like “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” and the utterly lunatic “Bike.” These were originally recorded with the creative leader and psychedelic genius Syd Barrett, who was on the 1968 Floyd album for which the band is named, but by that time, his mental illness and horrendous LSD consumption were sending him further and further off the rails.
Saucerful of Secrets’ swirling, knowingly retro, psychedelic light show looks fabulous and should work well in Budapest Park, an outdoor venue.
But this isn’t a tribute band. Saucerful of Secrets is led from the back by veteran Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and named for his favorite album, recorded in 1968. He has said, “I think there are ideas contained there that we have continued to use all the way through our career. I think [it] was a quite good way of marking Syd’s departure and Dave [Gilmour]’s arrival. It’s rather nice to have it on one record, where you get both things. It’s a cross-fade rather than a cut.”
Mason’s bandmates are Gary Kemp on guitar and vocals, Guy Pratt on bass and Dom Beken on keyboards.
The inclusion of Kemp, formerly of Spandau Ballet, is not as odd as I initially thought. He’s a full-on Floyd fan and, according to writeups I’ve read, acquits himself more than well. As John Lewis of U.K. music mag Uncut wrote in a review of Saucerful of Secrets at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on April 23, “Kemp […] gets to explore areas of his musicianship that even the most fanatical Spandau Ballet fan will not be aware of.”
Kemp shares vocal chores – I’ve always wanted to write this staple phrase of 1970s rock critics – with bass player Pratt. He is a session bass player whose 30-year career has seen him playing with artists that include Roxy Music, Michael Jackson, and Iggy Pop, as well as the Floyd.
Keyboard player and vocalist Beken is quite the wild card. His background is primarily in composing, playing and producing music for video games, film and TV, and music videos. He doesn’t appear to have played in any name bands other than Saucerful of Secrets.
By all accounts, it’s Mason who drives the band. In Pink Floyd itself, to me at least, Mason always came across as the least charismatic and intriguing member. Especially when you remember that his bandmates, the late Syd Barrett, David Gilmour, and Roger Waters, are all highly charismatic, driven artists in their own very different ways.
This is why it feels admirable that Mason is keeping the flame of the early Pink Floyd alive, especially as he doesn’t need the money. Those of you who, like me, are sneakily curious as to the financial status of our rock dinosaurs might like to know that Mason is said to be worth USD 180 million. Which makes it somehow all the more laudable that Saucerful of Secrets exists.
As Mason told the audience at the April 23 Royal Albert Hall show, “It’s a bit surreal having to tell my grandchildren that I’m going on tour.”
Speaking of the net worth of rock and rollers, another good thing about the show at Budapest Park is that it’s reasonably priced. The cheapest tickets are around USD 40. That’s satisfyingly cheap for a reasonably big-name act. Especially as ticket prices for shows by Mason’s contemporaries are skyrocketing this summer.
To give you one eyewatering example, the cheapest tickets to see the Rolling Stones in Vienna on July 15 are around USD 235. And that’s to stand.
Now, I’m sure a promoter or band member could give me a vaguely plausible explanation for why ticket prices have gone up so much. But, frankly, I don’t care. From where I’m standing, several miles away from the stage, bands like the Rolling Stones and their management, who have more money than they’ll ever need, should put their fans first. But I started listening to music when bands at least pretended to have a conscience, so maybe I’m just a romantic old fool.
And there is a bright side to all these wizened old men pricing themselves out of my market. To get our live music fix, people like me who have previously had next to no interest in new music will be obliged to head for smaller venues to see bands we’ve never heard of.
This could spark the musical revolution those of us who had our lives changed by punk have been hoping for.
In the meantime, I suggest you snap up a ticket for Saucerful of Secrets at Budapest Park while you still can. As John Lewis wrote: “Many of us will have seen several incarnations of Pink Floyd over the last 40 years – the official Gilmour/Mason brand, Waters’ themed shows, Gilmour’s solo tours, or even tribute bands like the Australian Pink Floyd – but this is definitely more fun than any of them.”
Buy a ticket at www.budapestpark.hu. For an idea of what Saucerful of Secrets sounds like, check out their Live at the Roundhouse concert video on YouTube.
This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of June 3, 2022.
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