Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Ozric Tentacles and Gong, sonic explorers elevate Margate

Going out under the heading of ‘The Last Blast,’ (though whether this means for one or both bands this is the last tour, is unclear) this formidable pairing of sonic explorers put on a scintillating show in the iconic Margate Dreamland ballroom, but a show with a difference.

The difference being, having seen both bands previously on more than one occasion, this was the first time I’d seen either band play against just a black backdrop without having any light show and/or a swirling colourful psychedelic backdrop of ethereal astral projections. Lighting, such as it was, comprised a few red and white lights above the stage. Whether this was Dreamland’s policy or the hall being too small to accommodate both bands’ usual stage set-up couldn’t be ascertained. But the music was what mattered. On this tour the bands are alternating being the headline act so, tonight, the Planet Gong opened up with ‘My Guitar Is A Spaceship’ from their recent Unending Ascending album, and followed it with ‘Kapital,’ from Rejoice I’m Dead.

Kavus Torabi, personally anointed by Daevid Allen to keep the spirit of Gong alive, invites the audience to ‘go on a journey inwards and outwards, but it’s all the same thing, right?’ Gong may no longer have the bubbling synths as the background to their songs, or the glissando guitar effects. However, the freaky rock sax is still prevalent and they’re now more guitar-heavy. However, their set still features prolonged and extensive jamming with some lengthy guitar workouts, with storming versions of seventies classics ‘Master Builder’ and ‘The Glorious Om Riff,’ bringing on Saskia Maxwell to dance across the stage and occasionally contribute flute, as well as newer tracks like ‘Ship of Ishtar’ and ‘Tiny Galaxies,’ before closing with the advice to take care when you ‘Choose Your Goddess’.

Ozric Tentacles (The Ozrics) follow. They also have a new album out, Lotus Unfolding, and they perform their signature blend of rave and hippy aesthetics, and they evolve their own sonic landscape with synths and Ed Wynne’s spiralling guitars. The Ozrics music merges prog, psychedelia, ambient and electronica to create their own unique swirling sound, which gives the sense their music portrays the sensation of travelling through space, but without any of their usual psychedelic backdrops, light show and strobes, greater imagination has to be employed. The Ozrics say little onstage, and their set is an expansive series of conjoined guitars and synths and effects, alongside some surprisingly heavy drum sounds, and even if you know their albums, their onstage improvisations mean the pieces are often different ‘live.’  But they create the desired effect and the crowd enjoys what it hears.

Afterwards, there’s almost a sense of unreality upon leaving the hall and stumbling out onto a breezy and rainy Margate seafront, after time spent with Gong and The Ozrics, making you realise how good each band is in taking you out of your own world and, for a short time, elevating you into theirs.

[22/03/23 – Dreamland got back to us to say they say the bands didn’t use lights/backdrop projections etc., as they felt the venue was too small to accommodate them].

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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