11 September 2010 (gig)
12 September 2010
Anyone familiar with Gong and the origins of that band will be happy to see Daevid Allen back together with Miquette Giraudy, Gilli Smyth & Steve Hillage. Seeing them onstage at Kentish Town’s Forum – with Dave Sturt on bass, Chris Taylor on drums and the brilliant Ian East on sax and flute – was almost like a trip back in time.
Oh sure; Daevid Allen is now more wizard like and sprightly than ever, Gilli Smyth looks even more the impish little witch and Miquette doesn’t need to be hidden by banks of synths and keys – Steve Hillage somehow looks YOUNGER than he did in ’74 – but the music still has the elements of craziness and the delight in the otherworldly that it always did and the audience were delighted by the combination of the music and the lightshow that was far more complex than they could do back in the day.
Musically the material from ‘2032’ stood up well against numbers like ‘Dynamite’ or ‘A Nice Cup Of Tea’ and Hillages guitar was superb throughout while the synths were played to embellish and move the moods along rather than being the core as they once had a habit of doing and when the mikes weren’t shorting out – how the hell does that happen in 2010 – East’s sax playing and flute work added a whole other dimension to the music.
But the performance belonged to Daevid Allen – tiny changes in costume creating whole new persona’s on stage and with that keening and crafty vocal he made each number a unique artistic statement without ever seemingly repeating himself.
The crowd were a remarkable mix of old hippies, corporate survivor types and young crusties but they were united to celebrate one of the great bands of yore and even more to cheer the fact that the current material is as valid and heartfelt as ever.
Support for the show was by Nik Turner’s Space Ritual and they were much tighter and more focused than the last time I saw them. Opening with ‘Right Stuff’ and ‘Ritual Of The Ravaged Earth’, their own material standing up well against classic Hawkwind numbers such as ‘Steppenwolf’ or ‘Masters Of The Universe’ and I was massively impressed to see a performance this good after having most of their kit stolen two days before.
A stunning version of ‘Sonic Savages’ and the pounding intensity of ‘Brainstorm’ really brought the crowd to their feet and the band deserved all the heartfelt cheers they got.
Miss Angel danced seductively and embellished a surprisingly bare set but the music was the feature and they won over a lot of new fans here.