Live: Gong / Ozric Tentacles

Epic Studios, Norwich November 30, 2022

by Brian Warden

“Welcome to the weird world” is the first thing uttered tonight by Ozric Tentacles guitarist and founding member Ed Wynne.

This double-header collaboration has seen the running order flipped for the second half of the tour, meaning the Ozrics are opening proceedings here.

Ozric Tentacles: It's a weird world (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)
Ozric Tentacles: It’s a weird world (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)

After first song O-I, the rhythmic keyboard melody of Erpland fills the air with some of the crowd still making their way into the venue – perhaps unused to a headliner taking the stage so early in the evening. But those already here are enjoying the first opportunity in some years to see a live Ozrics show.

The set varies from ambient numbers to hard rock, driven by Wynne’s versatile guitar playing. The four core members of the band create a large, spacious sound and are joined occasionally by flautist Saskia Maxwell.

The Ozrics deliver a varied set (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)
The Ozrics deliver a varied set (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)

And it’s fun on stage, with bassist Brandi Wynne – who is centre-stage throughout – belly-laughing between songs with the other members of the band.

On the large screens, ever-changing visuals of mystical landscapes and geometric shapes are evocative of the early 90s festival scene and they form a large part of the whole show.

Brandi Wynne is front and centre (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)
Brandi Wynne is front and centre (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)

The unreleased Lotus Unfolding marks the halfway point of the set, and after that there’s a strong dub influence before the anthemic, up-tempo and heavy Sploosh!, which proves to be the last song before the Ozrics make way for Gong.

The contrast between these joint headline acts is immediately apparent.

In guitarist and lead singer Kavus Torabi, Gong have an animated focal point. Pulsing guitars drive forward his whirling vocals, again partnered with the continuously morphing visuals and lights.

The animated Kavus Torabi (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)
The animated Kavus Torabi (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)

But there doesn’t seem to be the same connection with the audience at the start of the set as there was with the Ozrics – perhaps because of the change in dynamics.

Early on, Torabi assures us that “leaving this world is nothing to be worried about – it will feel like taking off an old, uncomfortable pair of shoes”.

It's a prog 1-2 when Gong take the stage (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)
It’s a prog 1-2 when Gong take the stage (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)

Longstanding Gong fans might have heard similar deep advice down the years, but it seems to be met with mildly confused acceptance by some of the others present.

As with the Ozrics earlier, the style varies as the set goes on. The heavy Kapital is followed by the syncopated Rejoice!

Gong provide a few moments of deep reflection (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)
Gong provide a few moments of deep reflection (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)

My Sawtooth Wake brings another change in the mood as a chugging riff is punctuated by sections of airy psych, with Torabi’s vocals accompanied by saxophonist Ian East.

And by the time Maxwell, who was on stage earlier with the Ozrics, returns to add her vocals later in the set, the room has been won over.

Gong: It's a night of nostalgia (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)
Gong: It’s a night of nostalgia (Picture: Niki Jones Photography)

“It might be the nicest stage we’ve ever played on,” says Torabi at one point, before getting all deep again. “It all led to here…” he muses.

Tonight is a nostalgic trip for many of us, but those new to this experience will find it fitting that the end of the show includes My Guitar Is A Spaceship.

Welcome to the weird world, indeed.

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

Preview: Big Country

The Scottish veterans will play their iconic Steeltown album in full when they roll into Norwich next week

Preview: Alestorm

Expect a wild night when the pirate rockers sail into Norwich for a date on their tour of the UK and Ireland

Preview: Slowdive

The shoegaze band continue to fly high during their second life, and they’ll be bringing their Everything Is Alive tour to Norwich

Live: Aynsley Lister

Aynsley Lister is one of the best around, and he shows it once again in this masterclass of a performance in Norwich