GETTING your head around the history of Gong – who have almost been through more players than some football teams since 1967 – is a daunting task: not even guitarist, vocalist and core and founder member Daevid Allen has always been a constant presence in the Franco-British space-rock band’s many on-off incarnations.
Star rating: * * *
But then, judging by their trippy musical and aesthetic approach – both clearly hinting at a certain penchant for, shall we say, herbal/chemical enhancement – probably few band members past and present can remember much history themselves beyond a certain point.
Where many space rock bands took and take themselves seriously beyond reproach, for all their stellar stoner heaviness, Gong – whose most progressive trait here was the white-bearded Allen’s succession of increasingly ludicrous headgear – are lighthearted, often funny fare, reliant more so on repetitive grooves and daft lyrics than 15-minute guitar solos.
Imagine a Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, fronted by a cross between Gandalf and the Artful Dodger, playing dance music, and you’re in the right universe.
The psychedelic visuals (flying fish, teapots and cannabis leaves all featured) looked like they’d been created on a computer running Windows 95.
Not one song lasted any less than three times longer than necessary. But no gig which at one point had a singer sporting enormous furry white horns – with CDs dangling from the tips – declare: “Here I am dressed like an idiot in a curly-wurly doo-da,” then sing the virtues of the kind of tea you definitely can’t buy at Tesco, could fairly be accused of failing to entertain.