Live at Leeds’ Wardrobe 18th May 2019
It is always now for Ed Wynne and always now for those twirling in the front rows. As tonight’s headliners, the eternal Gong (now exuberantly minus any founding members) reiterate, there is only the present. Ed Wynne’s music embodies that perception more than Gong’s. A swirly acid-tinged dance groove, tunes start and end but don’t trouble themselves with development, thematic progression, climaxes; instead forming a psychedelic space for feet to move and minds to follow. Playing a brief opening slot for Gong, the audience was perfectly receptive and would have liked it to go on for more than forty-five minutes. At the interval I heard lots of people remembering the Ozric Tentacles fondly.
Ed Wynne is the Ozric Tentacles in the same way that Mark E Smith said “if it’s me, you and yer granny on bongos, it’s The Fall”. Why he’s performing under his own name, I don’t know, as the sound is very much what the crowd knows and loves and expects from the Tentacles. Whereas Ed’s new album is nearly all performed by him, he has an organic band here. The bass and drums lay down festival swirl, hippy stomp and reggae beats, the synth makes spacey sounds and Ed plays his signature eternal noodle or rhythmic fuzz chops. I’ve owned a number of Ozric Tentacles albums and still can rarely tell the difference between them – and that is kind of the point. Beloved of festivals since the eighties and with thirty albums – on cassette or CD – the Ozric Tentacles provided the soundtrack for a generation, now middle-aged, to get their groove on and indulge in some recreational chemistry. In fact, I’ve not seen the band since mushrooms were criminalised and I wondered how they’d sound straight. I needn’t have worried.
Proving that if you free your ass then your mind will follow, this was a very well-received support act and should fill Ed with the confidence to take his show back on the road to support his new album.