July 23, 2024

Steve Hillage – ‘PARIS BATACLAN 11.12.79’ – “Damn your pigeonholes and categories”



MADFISH RECORDS      23rd February 2024

So this 1979 recording has been dug out, polished and sent out into the world. Although I think of 1979, the period immediately post-punk, as a time when the refreshing blast of noise had swept away the indulgence of prog-rock, that wasn’t the case at all. And independently minded bands like Gong weren’t going to follow everyone else. So Steve Hillage, best known for his stints in the revolving line up of Gong, was in the Bataclan, blowing minds with his band, just as he does in his other project, System 7, playing Techno. Damn your pigeonholes and categories!

A delightfully gently spoken and unobtrusive man, even he describes his playing here as totally scorching in places. He introduces the band and chats between songs in good French and is rewarded with a responsive audience, beaming energy up to the stage. Encompassing members of Gong and fellow travellers in the band, the music has similarities; a playful progginess, a propensity for the long-form jam. There are elements of Gong present in the emergence of the ‘Om’ riff from ‘Master Builder’ and of course the feeling of gentle wonder. You’ll hear more ‘serious’ prog rock themes than universal love, pixies and tea in the lyrics but me, I’m listening to the musicianship, the interplay, the jams and those guitar solos. For fans of progressive rock jamming from the Seventies, this is a great addition. Having said that, punk was not ignored and ‘Getting In Tune’ has the riffy punky speed of Here And Now.

Lean back, relax, let the jams massage that tired brain before building up to a crescendo and back. Then feel glad that he’s still playing – touring last year backed by the current incarnation of Gong and touring this Spring as System 7, playing Techno EDM.


Steve’s on this release too:

GongLive At The Gong Family Unconventional Gathering

and this astonishing duo supported Steve Hillage in 2023 in Manchester:

The Utopia Strong – Live in Manchester 2023 – “visible pleasure in the sound”



About Author