April 16, 2024

Ozric Tentacles – Live in Leeds 2024 – “psychedelic swirl”

Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 20th March 2024

Live is the natural home for the Ozric Tentacles. Although they’ve released lots of albums (many on cassettes) since 1983, they served as accompaniment to road trips in battered vans between eighties and nineties festivals. Their 1991 ‘Strangeitude’ reached 11 in the British charts, showing just how popular the sound was. Last year’s offering, although different in many ways, serves the same function. Live, the band flourishes, making dance-space-rock for swaying hippies, feeding on the energy and spending time expanding.

It’s a double header tour – a true partnership, with Gong and Ozric Tentacles alternating slots. Tonight Ozrics open but have no problems warming the crowd up rapidly, since the bands, despite being born in different decades (sixties and eighties) are fellow travellers and the combination works great. I saw them last year and the combination works just as well the other way round. Gong now a revitalised intense prog-rock force and Ozric Tentacles a band more tuned to the rise and fall of steady-state swirly dancers.

Always the project of Ed Wynne, the only common strand over those forty years, the Ozrics know what they need to do and it’s what they want to do, and it all merges rather nicely. Add in a psychedelic light show and the floor is ready for swirly action. Long-time collaborator, Silas Neptune on keys (not actually a Greek ocean god) plays keys, while the bassist and drummer are newer additions and Saskia Maxwell joins on flute (she later also dances with Gong). There is a cumulative blissy wash that goes down very well with the chilled and friendly crowd. Some tracks are guitar riff led, others more groovy, some slower, some faster but the common factor is an ongoing rise and fall as the psychedelic swirl is attempted. Despite a light-show of mushrooms, forests, space and pumped-up Hindu gods, the band doesn’t quite gel, with the solid and tuneful bass not hitting the dancey swish Ed Wynne usually has his band aim for and the drums, feeling similarly not locked in. No matter to the happy crowd and the flute passages go down very well (perhaps being a young woman amongst four very blokey-looking blokes helps?), as do things like the dubby drop out section.

Lots of old favourites were played, including Erpland and Sploosh and fitted seamlessly with newer material like Lotus Unfolding and Burundi Spaceport. The point of a band like Ozric Tentacles is to just keep playing and the gentle movement of the crowd lifts them to a happy place, that psychedelic space where the mind empties and lifts through movement to music. As a mood-altering device, the band’s eighty minute set did what it set out to do. With a better meshed line-up, they’d be more effective, as they have been on previous outings.

Apparently this is the last tour like this and I’d advise anyone who likes either of the bands to grab it while you can. Ozrics continue to be a legendary bunch of hippies and Gong-without-Daevid-Allen are a fire-breathing psychedelic dragon.

 

We caught Ed Wynne five years ago – words and pics here:

Ed Wynne – Tentacles are swaying tonight for Ed’s support slot

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