Gong - the verdict

Ah, what a gig! Legendary. I'm still bouncing around. It was all a bit of a rush to get there (what kind of gig starts at 7.00pm prompt?) and Steve Hillage was already half-way through 'Palm Trees' when we arrived. Managed to push our way through phallanxes of grey men in leather blouson jackets (chaps - what happened? The ravages of mortagages and middle age?) to secure a place up at the front. Hillage is looking increasingly like a geeky Frank Spencer, that is until he starts to play. He worked his way through much of 'Fish Rising' and before long his head was tipped backwards, face gripped in that strange rictus grin, fingers dancing across the fretboard, fully entranced by the music that descends through him.

After a short break the mothership landed. With the band launched into 'Control Escape Delete' (my favourite song from the new album, dealing with the imminence of death in a moving but light hearted manner) Daevid Allen slipped through the intersticial lattices of time and space to dematerialise on stage, dressed as he is, the uber-Pixie, the Octave Doctor, the Wizard of the Keys. With pointy hat, silver cape and pixie grin, he performed his mudras and invocations. At a youthful 71, he's lithe and athletic, and yet there's an insubstantial quality to him. He leaped about the stage as if he's made of air. Gilli Smyth, it must be said, is looking pretty frail, but still sends shivers with her space whisper cackles.

And they rocked. For a full hour and forty five, working their way through Camembert Electric, the trilogy and 2032. The light show was exquisite and my only sadness was that Bloomdido wasn't there to complete the line up. I missed his gnomic presence, his witty lines and cheeky riffs.

High point? Allen, dressed in a silver insectoid suit, with a single curling tentacle sprouting from his head, asking 'would you like some tea?'. 'Would you like some infinitea? Would you like some mushroom tea? Would you like some ayahuasca tea?' And to each, the grey men, suddenly remembering the hopes and possibilities of their long-forgotten psychedelic youth, punching the air with a resounding 'Yes!'



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