Gong, not Gong!
Tonight I’m off to see Gong at the Cluny in Newcastle…or am I! There is much debate about wether or not the current band is Gong! Since the death of main man Daevid Allen the band had carried on without any of the original members. It is said that just before he died Daevid sent and email asking the current line up to take the band forward:
“It is super clear to me that Kavus, you are the perfect fit with Dave, Ian and Fabio and that Cheb, you are the perfect fit with Kavus!I want you to know I am 100% behind you with this project and I wish you huge success in every way you decide to measure that success.I am really proud of laying the foundation for the Gong tradition and have done my best to make it as multi layered, wide ranging and open ended as I possibly could.At last I am free to let go of it so now it is up to you guys to carry it on into new unknown heights and depths far beyond anything I could ever imagine myself.”
I myself did wonder if I wanted to go and posted the question on Facebook when the dates were announced only to find opinion split although it did waver towards the positive view of the group which I think made me buy the ticket! Since then the band have released a new album The Universe also collapses which is the second album they have released since Allen’s demise the previous one being Rejoice! I’m Dead! I’d heard lots of good reports about the album so I bought a copy last week and to be honest I haven’t stopped playing it since so much so that I am mega excited about seeing them tonight!
An added attraction is that Ed Wynne of Ozric Tentacles is the support act – last time I saw the Ozrics was being Donovan’s backing band at Glastonbury (something I didn’t find out till a couple of months ago!) I have a last minute panic because while looking to see if anyone had put the stage times online I spotted that the facebook event page said it started at 7 (like some of the other dates on the tour) whereas my ticket said 7:30. I rang the venue and thankfully the timings were as I suspected support at 8 Gong at 9. I set off and parked in the usual place outside the Brinkburn Street brewery and walked to the venue. I hadn’t been to a gig in Cluny 1 before and had only just worked out where the actual venue was when I went through the wrong door after a gig in Cluny 2 and found myself in the venue by mistake! It wasn’t as I was expecting with the stage being smaller and in a different place to where I thought it was!
It was about five to eight when I got there so I went straight down to where the stage was and ended up pretty much at the front. Just as the band were about to come on I suddenly realised that Kavus from Gong was standing right next to me – he’d obviously come out to watch Ed do his set! When I first arrived I thought it was a solo set but then when they came on I realised there was a band too.
They played what a friend described as swirly acid-tinged dance groove music which was very enjoyable. It is a mystery though while he billed himself by his name rather than using the Ozric Tentacles nane, the music was certainly the swirly acid-tinged dance groove that I remember the Ozrics playing. Maybe it was to do with not upstaging the headliners.
And so to Gong! I debated going to get a drink during the break but didn’t want to lose my space so I stayed put. After a couple of minutes a young girl appeared and stood next to me. She told me that this would be the first time she’d seen the band who she had loved since she made her dad play her flying teapot at the age of 7 and fell in love with the music. The weird thing was that the story seemed familiar as if I’d heard it before – maybe a subliminal transmission from the Planet Gong by the Invisible Opera Company of Tibet!
Then Gong came on – a projection started up and the Gong intro played over the PA. The band came on and kicked into Can’t kill me from Camembert Electrique and off we went. The set consisted of old and new songs – they played almost all the new CD plus a few tracks from Rejoice I’m Dead and old stuff mostly taken from the aforementioned CE album!
Now obviously Kavus isn’t Daevid Allen but he never tries to be instead he brings his won brand of swivel eyed (literally) lunacy to the group – when he’s not singing he’s bending over and staring pop-eyed at the audience – at one point he came over and stuck his face almost into mine but I was ready with the camera!
The rest of the band are pretty good as well – the bass of (local lad) Dave Sturt is devine and keeps the music pumping forward with some great percussion from Cheb Nettles at the back. Glissando guitar and more from Fabio Golfetti and completing the line up classically trained Ian East on saxes.
Thinking about the old stuff – some of it seemed to work like the om riff and Selene but occasionally they don’t seem to grab the spirit of the original band. On the whole though I do feel that the band that started back in the 60s is continuing and in good hands.
Gong est Mort, Vive Gong
You Can’t Kill Me
If Never I’m And Ever You
My Sawtooth Wake
Mister Long Shanks: O Mother
You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever
Tropical Fish: Selene
Insert Yr Own Prophecy