October 23, 1996
Detroit, Seventh House
a short review by George Chosky
They played a tiny nightclub called The Seventh House, and an intimate crowd of around 200 Gong fans were there (I bumped into fellow Echoesian John McIntyre at the show). Roughly half of us were CODs, while the other half were youngsters just barely in their twenties; but the youngsters knew the songs, and danced pixie-style to the music...it looked something like a miniature Grateful Dead concert in that respect.
Even though there were some new faces in the band, they played their old music as well as the old 1970s Gong did. Veterans Daevid Allen and Didier Mahlerbe and Gilli Smyth were there; and Pip Pyle and Mike Howlett and Steffi Sharpstrings have been playing with them for several years (and albums) now. The engineer on the soundboard let too many microphones feedback too often, so we flogged him with banana peels after the show. But other than that, the music was wonderful. They closed the almost two hour long set with the mantra "You are I and I am You", and we all sang along with it until we were thoroughly transformed into pure energy; I've wanted to do that for most of my adult life, and I finally got to do it.
After the show was over, I brazenly followed the band down a hallway and almost into their dressing room, until I came up short against two roadies who were about six-foot-five. I thought "This is where I get told to beat it before it gets beaten for me," but no, instead, the taller one looked down at me and said "Just wait here a while; after most of the crowd clears out, the band will come out and talk with the serious fans and sign autographs."
And by God, they did! So I got to hobnob it with Daevid Allen et al in the flesh, face to face and nose to nose, for around 30 minutes, shook all their hands and got them to draw pictures and sign autographs all over the cover of my vinyl copy of "Flying Teapot"! I was in Heaven.
The next day, my daughter pointed out to me that my new Gong t-shirt actually glows in the dark ...hot damn!
I also picked up Gong's new studio album at the concert, titled "Shapeshifter +". I've listened to it twice now, and it's really beautiful. I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever liked a Gong album.
Gong is alive and well. They're touring the US now. By all means catch them if you can.