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Gong: Live at the Gong Family Unconventional Gathering

The Gong Family Unconvention at the Melkweg club in Amsterdam during November 2006, was a unique three day event in which all the surviving key members of the legendary psychedelic band came together and, after playing their own individual sets, performed once again as Gong. This climactic and joyful two hour and sixteen song live set was recorded and finally appears on this double CD release.

Now, I must admit that I’m not the biggest Gong aficionado in the world, but even with that in mind, I understand their importance and prominence in the psychedelic, space rock scene and beyond. Starting from that point of view often makes live albums either the perfect way to experience a band, or exactly the opposite, but I’m delighted to say right from the off that it’s the former experience I’ve had here. Admittedly it helps massively that this double disc set sounds rather wonderful, with a balanced mix retaining the live energy and nuances this band obviously revelled in.

Trying to explain the family tree of Gong would probably take up this entire review, but the cast list here is stellar, Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth, neither of whom are still with us sadly, taking up the vocal charge, while the former, of course, was also one of the band’s twin guitar attack. On this occasion his partner was none other than Steve Hillage - who is simply magnificent throughout, while the rest of the band were made up of Gong fulcrums Didier Malherbe (soprano sax, duduk, flute), Mike Howlett (bass), Tim Blake (synths, keyboards, voice), Miquette Giraudy (synths), Theo Travis (tenor sax, flute) and Chris Taylor (drums).

That’s an incredible cast list and with a set that plunders many of the band’s most favourite musical moments, one put to extremely good use. From opener “You Can’t Kill Me” to the pulsating “Dynamite/I Am Your Animal”, where Smyth is in incredible form, and from the provocative “I Am Your Pussy” to the irresistible “Serene”, disc one is just magnificent. And what comes across strongest is just how much inherent fun is packed into the seriously constructed pieces, and also how much joy is being shared on stage and in the audience.

The trip continues apace on disc two, “A Sprinkling Of Clouds” airy, spacey, yet focused, while the quick, quirky one-two of “Master Builder” and “The Isle Of Everywhere” almost do the impossible, as they make you grin from ear to ear as your jaw drops at the complexity that’s made to sound so damn easy! Although, the closing classic, “You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever” stands up to that barrage and then some.

For Gong fanatics, this release is, put quite simply, a must, as it captures a unique performance in quite glorious style. If, however, like me, you have held more of a passing admiration for this band than an out and out dedication, I’d suggest that this live double disc album is still a captivating and exhilarating experience from start to finish.

Track Listing
You Can't Kill Me [10.39]
Radio Gnome Invisible [7.11]
Tomorrow Afternoon (I Am Your Fantasy)[2.49]
Dynamite/I Am Your Animal [7.12]
Flute Salad [3.02]
Oily Way [3.34]
Outer Temple [2.03]
Inner Temple [3.04]
Zero the Hero and The Witches Spell [11.45]
I Am Your Pussy [5.18]
Tropical Fish [7.10]
Selene [3.55]

I Never Glid Before [6.28]
Prostitute Poem [6.25]
Magdelene [8.25]
A Sprinkling of Clouds [11.29]
She is the Great Goddess (Magick Mother Invocation) [1.18]
Master Builder [8.17]
The Isle of Everywhere [8.05]
You Never Blow Yr Trip Forever [17.50]

Added: January 28th 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Planet Gong
Hits: 1182
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Gong: Live at the Gong Family Unconventional Gathering
Posted by seoexpert on 2023-02-12 17:29:02
My Score:

This is the nicest thing about the internet. I had no clue they'd put on such an incredible show. Super glad to have this one!

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