Skip to main content

Enter your email below to be the first to hear about new releases, upcoming events, and more from Dig!

Please enter a valid email address
Please accept the terms
Best Nick Mason Pink Floyd Performances: 10 Songs That Define The Drummer’s Legacy
Alamy Stock Image
List & Guides

Best Nick Mason Pink Floyd Performances: 10 Songs That Define The Drummer’s Legacy

Throughout his career as drummer for Pink Floyd, the best Nick Mason performances have underpinned an array of timeless prog-rock classics.

Back

As the drummer for one of the greatest rock bands of all time, Nick Mason of Pink Floyd has provided the steady pulse behind the mesmerising and innovative soundscapes that have defined the group’s musical legacy. With a distinctive sense of finesse and a clean, balanced style, Mason’s drumming has evolved from the improvisatory psychedelia of the group’s 1967 debut album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, to the ethereal and atmospheric transcendence of their swansong, 2014’s The Endless River. Though one of the best drummers in rock music, Mason would be the first to admit that he is not a virtuoso in the traditional sense of the word, yet his rhythmic precision and nuanced approach to playing have left an indelible mark on music history. His contribution to Pink Floyd’s sound is immeasurable – as this countdown of the best Nick Mason performances proves.

Listen to the best of Pink Floyd here, and check out the best Nick Mason performances, below.

10: A Saucerful Of Secrets (From ‘A Saucerful Of Secrets’, 1968)

Providing the foundation for an exploration of musique-concrète composition, Nick Mason’s drumming on the A Saucerful Of Secrets album’s 12-minute title track is truly mind-blowing. During the Syncopated Pandemonium section of the song (beginning at 3.57), Mason sweeps across the kit to anchor his bandmates’ trippy maelstrom of piano bashing and bizarre studio effects with an excitedly clattersome run of fills. One of the best Nick Mason performances to highlight the drummer’s commitment to achieving Pink Floyd’s progressive vision, A Saucerful Of Secrets is like plunging into the vortex of a psychedelic dreamscape.

9: Have A Cigar (From ‘Wish You Were Here’, 1975)

Bringing equilibrium to this blues-inspired song’s herky-jerky guitar riff, Nick Mason steadies Have A Cigar with a stuttering drum rhythm full of poise, as if he’s manning off seasickness while his bandmates’ sonic waves crash against the ship. Demonstrating his skill for precision and subtlety, Mason’s hi-hat work on Have A Cigar (3.17) is stunning, bringing an indispensable sense of balance to the woozy feel of the track.

8: Sheep (From ‘Animals’, 1977)

Leading listeners in like lambs to the slaughter, Nick Mason’s inverted drum effects on the first verse of the ten-minute progressive-rock epic Sheep mark the start of a masterclass. Providing a rhythmic backbone to the experimental song’s pulse-pounding momentum, Mason’s drumming is commanding as he navigates intricate patterns and dynamic shifts throughout the song. One of the biggest highlights among the best Nick Mason performances comes towards the outro of this song (8.34), where his fills ratchet up the intensity.

7: The Nile Song (From ‘More’, 1969)

Highlighting Nick Mason’s adaptability as a drummer, The Nile Song is a gritty and bluesy number that Pink Floyd recorded for the soundtrack of the 1969 film More. Arguably the hardest-rocking song the group ever attempted, it’s almost a sonic precursor to grunge. Mason’s drumming is relentless here, letting loose with a wild and frenetic flurry of thunderous fills and tom breaks (1.46) that threaten to make the earth move. Raw and energetic, the sheer power and ferocity of Nick Mason’s drumming on The Nile Song will make your hair stand on end.

6: Biding My Time (From ‘Relics’, 1971)

A lesser-known Pink Floyd gem that sees the group dabble in New Orleans-flavoured jazz, Biding My Time finds Nick Mason at his most lively and unpredictable on record. From a playful and syncopated swing groove accompanying the trombone (1.56) to a feverish breakdown in which he almost obliterates his two bass drums (4.26), the song stands out among the best Nick Mason performances by showing Mason’s ability to effortlessly traverse a new genre with a combination of intuition and spontaneity.

5: Dogs (From ‘Animals’, 1977)

Dogs, the 17-minute closing track from Side One of Pink Floyd’s 1977 studio album, Animals, prowls around like a bloodhound thanks to Nick Mason’s performance. Effortlessly adapting his playing throughout, Mason proves his grace and finesse as a drummer, keeping the song on a tight leash as he navigates song’s complex time signatures, before breaking loose towards the end with a galloping rhythm (13.25) and then sinking his teeth into a lumbering groove (15.54). Though Mason is renowned for his meticulousness and steadying influence, his unyielding flourishes are equally impactful, and his drumming on Dogs makes for a prize-winning breed among the best Nick Mason performances.

4: One Of These Days (From ‘Meddle’, 1971)

Containing a subtle homage to the Doctor Who theme tune, there’s a touch of cosmic exploration to One Of These Days, and Nick Mason is more than happy to be along for the ride. “One of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces,” he says just over halfway through the song, his voice distorted like a Dalek, before going supernova with a pounding drum groove full of hypnotic ride-cymbal crashes and intergalactic drum fills (3.36).

3: Pigs (Three Different Ones) (From ‘Animals’, 1977)

From joyously whacking a cowbell (1.49) to giving the swine-baiting groove some swagger towards the end (9.23), Nick Mason’s drumming on Pigs (Three Different Ones) is a compelling blend of precision and power. Ranking highly among the best Nick Mason performances, it’s a song that showcases a wide range of the drummer’s abilities, as he transitions from providing impeccably metronomic accompaniment to unleashing brief yet primal outbursts of tom fills that elevate the mood of the piece. For its measured intensity alone, Mason’s drumming on Pigs (Three Different Ones) is flawless.

2: Time (From ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’, 1973)

Elaborating on the heartbeat-like pulse of the clock sound effects during the intro, Nick Mason’s drumming on Time, from Pink Floyd’s landmark The Dark Side Of The Moon album, perfectly aligns with the song’s thematic exploration of ageing. His turn to the roto-toms (0.59) makes for a hypnotic moment among the best Nick Mason performances – a meticulous interplay of percussive elements that is both evocative and nuanced. Furthermore, during the guitar solo (3.27), Mason’s use of hi-hats and fills is exceptional, demonstrating his innate ability to make subtle shifts within a single composition that are frequently majestic to behold.

1: Echoes (From ‘Meddle’, 1971)

The sprawling and ethereal 23-minute masterpiece Echoes sees Nick Mason craft a haunting and intricate rhythmic landscape to complement the ebb and flow of the song with commendable restraint. After creating a hypnotic foundation, Mason’s drumming locks into a stop-start rhythm full of dreamy tom fills and cymbal crashes (6.05) before settling into a thumping military-like groove noisier than a herd of marching elephants (7.00). You only have to watch Mason’s 1972 performance on Pink Floyd’s Live At Pompeii concert film to understand how exceptional Echoes truly is, and why it tops this list of the best Nick Mason performances.

More Like This

Best Music Biographies: 10 Must-Read Rock’n’Roll Books
List & Guides

Best Music Biographies: 10 Must-Read Rock’n’Roll Books

Revealing and insightful, the best music biographies tell us everything we need to know about rock’n’roll’s most iconic artists.

Best Soul Singers: 30 Must-Hear Voices From Soul Music’s Golden Era
List & Guides

Best Soul Singers: 30 Must-Hear Voices From Soul Music’s Golden Era

From powerhouse personalities to gentle falsettos, the best soul singers can make you dance or weep, can touch your hearts or move your hips.

Sign up to our newsletter

Be the first to hear about new releases, upcoming events, and more from Dig!

Sign Up