Last week I joined a conversation with Nick Mason and about 100 other guests. The evening was part of the Prudential Series of talks with accomplished and well-known guests who have a story (or two) to tell.
The event took place at the China Exchange in the heart of London’s Chinatown.
Nick Mason’s chat was my first ever Prudential Series talk and first ever the reason to visit the China Exchange, something I had not heard of before this event.
Created in 2015, The China Exchange was created by David Tang as a place to encourage and increase our understanding of China and Chinese culture. A legend to all that knew him, David Tang would typically host these Q&A sessions but he sadly passed away in August, so a replacement host was required.
Enter Clive Anderson. Former Barrister, Clive Anderson has been a presenter and comedian for the past two decades whose work I have loved since I was a teenager. So the evening just got immediately better, before Nick had even taken the stage!
With a strict 60 minute running time, Nick needed little introduction before Clive launched into some questions. Nick quickly dispatched the standard items, ‘how did you meet’ etc. before Clive got into some more obscure queries.
‘Was Emily Stone the subject of See Emily Play?’
Great! My type of obscurity!
Emily Young was only 15 when she met Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett at the London Free School in 1965. Nick claimed not to know the answer, as Syd had written it. (Later investigations seem to be correct)
Will Pink Floyd ever play again? Probably not. Nick’s view was that he’d love to play together, but it was down to ‘Roger and David’ to decide on that one. I suspect with the loss of Nick; this won’t be happening.
The floor was thrown open for audience participation, which I had not expected, but encouraged some quite interesting questions.
The first question started as a song with a beautiful rendition of ‘Hey You…’ which was potentially a little awkward for Nick, followed by the actual question, “would you ever consider working with a Soprano again.” This from a female vocalist and friend of Clair Tory the original singer of Great Gig in the Sky. After Clive’s interjection, “this is not Tinder you know” Nick responded that yes, he could consider it…
“Have you ever made love to one of your songs?” Came a question from the back of the room. Another lady beaming as she asked the question (her partner cowering for anonymity!) “Oh no” came the answer. “I’d be focusing on the song and picking out the bits that didn’t sound right or could be better..” No official word on whether the couple had er performed to a Pink Floyd track but we all have our suspicions. (But which one? That’s almost the subject of an entirely separate blog post!)
I managed to get a question in too.
“Are you still friends with David and Roger? Do you drop them a text now and then or is it just business.”
Nick responded that they are friends. In fact, they are Nick’s oldest friends, so he does keep in touch. With busy lives (Roger and David have been touring) they don’t always see each other regularly, but they do keep in touch. Whenever Nick is in New York, he’ll try and catch up with Roger, and he expected to see David this week. That was cool to know.
The final question was just, “what is your favourite Pink Floyd song to play?” ‘Comfortably Numb came the answer. “it’s such a great track,” said Nick. “You start with almost half a drum part and grow to this powerful finale..”
The usual questions about Pink Floyd reuniting were somewhat ducked. Nick is on record saying he’d love to but the decision would rest on the relationship between David Gilmour and Roger Waters.
Other revelations we learnt were that Their Mortal Remains exhibition, which has finished in London is moving onto Rome, followed by Germany and New York later in 2018. The early albums, ‘Atom Heart Mother, and ‘Umagumma’ were musical ‘cul de sacs’ for the band which is why they aren’t so keen on those records.
Nick hung around at the end to answer more questions and sign a few autographs. I could see Nick had various objects provided for a signature – a Drum skin, a CD of Obscured by Clouds… I didn’t stay. I’ve already got my photo and autograph when I had a personal tour of his car garage. I was petrified to get the autograph then (on his Fictitious Sports album), so I wasn’t about to repeat this process!
China exchange have published the talk on YouTube, embedded here for your convenience.