See Roger Waters, Nick Mason Reunite to Play ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’
Two of the surviving members of Pink Floyd’s founding lineup reunited in New York City Thursday night when vocalist-bassist Roger Waters made a surprise appearance during drummer Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets gig at the Beacon Theater. Waters joined the band, which plays pre-Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd music, for a rendition of “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” an ominous Waters-penned cut from the band’s 1968 album A Saucerful of Secrets.
The performance marked the first time the two musicians played together onstage since 2011, when Mason and the group’s singer-guitarist, David Gilmour, joined Waters at a performance of the band’s The Wall album for select songs. Waters and Mason also worked together in promoting Waters’ concert film The Wall in 2014 but did not perform.
As the Saucerful band played the hypnotic intro music to “Set the Controls,” Waters took to the mic to reflect on the first New York City show recalls playing with Pink Floyd. “It was called the Scene Club and its owner was Steve Paul, and it was 1969,” he told the crowd, though records suggest it was 1968. “I remember it well. We had a gong in those days. As I remember, as I used to, in the middle of the show, hurl a necked whiskey glass at it – and the glass was empty because I’d drunk the whiskey, as we did back in the old days – anyway, I’m so happy to be here playing with Nick.” The crowd cheered.
“We’re very, very close and old friends,” he continued. “And when I was doing The Wall he came and sang ‘Outside the Wall’ a couple of times, so here we are.” He turned his head around to the drummer. “Loving the show, by the way, Nick. My considered opinion is that you sounded a lot better than we did back in the day.”
With that, he let the bass and keyboards take over until he sang the opening lyrics, “Little by little, the night turns around … ” As psychedelic clouds of orange were projected onto the band, he seemed to get lost in the song, which they stretched to about nine minutes long. Midway through, Waters climbed on the drum riser and banged Mason’s gong and walked around patting the band members on the back. When the song was done he waved and walked offstage. Mason attempted to get him to come back and take a bow, but to little avail, and the group carried on with its set list playing the Syd Barrett-era classic “See Emily Play.” At the end of the night, during the final encore, Waters came back out and took a bow with the band, hugging Mason.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Mason said it’s unlikely the three surviving members of Pink Floyd’s classic lineup (Waters, Gilmour and himself) would play together again because Waters and Gilmour cannot get along. Despite this, Pink Floyd are still cultivating its catalog releases. Earlier this month, the band reissued a mono-only LP of A Saucerful of Secrets for Record Store Day.