planet gong gigs


Subterania, London

Michael Heatley, Classic Rock Magazine

Set length: 1 Hr, 40 mins.

Set list: 'Foolfare'/'Zeroid'/'Radio Gnome'/'Mars'/'Bodilingus'/'Tic Toc'/'Pussy'/'Magdalene'/'Infinitea'/'Mad Monk'/'Flute Salad'/'Oily Way'/'Outer Temple'/'Inner Temple'/'Goddess Invocation'/'The Om Riff'/ Encore: 'Can't Kill Me'

"Take our picture, mate?" said a bloke in a pointy hat, one hand proffering an Instamatic, the other gripping singer Daevid Allen's shoulderblade. Realising the audience were every bit as amazing a sight as his band, the 'alien Australian' who formed Gong in Paris in 1968 was passing among his people with a friendly fervour that would've seen him kissing babies had any been present. Once on stage, the silver-haired and suited Allen proceeded to unveil his Y2K manifesto for the benefit of a webcast audience as well as the denizens of a Subterranea decked out like a version of Star Wars' Cantina. Quite an amazing sight.

The set list mixed old faves with seven selections from the current 'Zero to Infinity', washing away the decades in a wave of patchouli oil and ultraviolet light. Despite Allen's wacky whimsy and the occasional appearances of space-whisper specialist Gilli Smyth, it's the heartbeat supplied by bassist Mike Howlett and ex-Soul II Soul drummer Chris Taylor that allowed all manner of musical risk taking. Saxophonists Theo Travis and Didier Malherbe, the latter resplendent in toilet-plunger hat, turned on the jazz style, while a keyboardist reminiscent of Gilbert O' Sullivan in appearance - though not in playing style - added layers of space-age synthesiser.

By the time "The Om Riff' brought the reeling all-senses assault to a climax, a further keyboardist (Basil Brooks from Zorch) and Here and now guitarist Steffi Sharpstrings had upped the stage contingent to nine, inspiring the audience to party yet harder.

Porcupine Tree guitarist Steve Wilson, possibly the only other non-fancy dress wearer in the house, sympathised at the plight of the reviewer: "It is what it is," he concluded, a smile playing on his lips as he left to contemplate the sky over the Westway. For anyone who was unaware, there'd been a mystical alignment of the planets just a little earlier in the evening - a highly suitable occurrence for an out-of-this-world event. 32 years on, the force is still with 'em!"