GONG 1996
In concert in Portland, Oregon, 1996

Many may think that this incarnation of the band is not capable of doing what this band has done before, and for so long. I would like to tell everyone, that they are wrong, even if Tim Blake was not present for this, or even any, tour.

What may have started out as a subdued show, became a specially enjoyable kicking show, that reportedly surpassed the energy levels that the band showed the night before in Seattle.... Portland has been known for subdued fans, ask the Blazers, but whatever it was required to wake up this band, was alive and well, after their middle break, specially after a few bugaboos with the sound system, that were making Daevid Allen sound much too bassy for most of the evening.

But the slow start, only helped setup the rest of the evening. By the time they were ready to tackle the material from YOU, the audience and the band were more than ready for an exciting evening of music and entertainment, from what was, obviously a tired band, with little sleep in the past few days.

Compared to the other live recordings, this show stood up as well as any of them, although this reviewer wished that the band had been able to bring their keyboard player, and make an addition to the totality of their sound.... but even without it, it wasn't an empty sound or band.

In fine form, and tremendously steady, and perhaps the only ones not displaying any nerves before the show, were Didier Malherbe and Gilli Smyth. Mike and Pip were a bit nervous, and warmed up enough to make the show happen. Steffi, was as steady and worth it as it ever has been, and Daevid, aside from a few bugs with the monitoring system, finally came alive, and the audience was ready to see, one of the rarities in music, a band whose trip to the States was much too overdue, and should have been helped to
make it here before, when its audience was much bigger, in the 70's.

If there were any problems with the show, it was on the technical side, in that Portland only affords monaural systems for any band coming around that doesn't bring their own sound and pa systems, which apparently was not exactly the band's preference, which is understandable, though without a full time keyboard player, this could be considered an additive.... Portland must have the worst record on history of taking care of bands with   keyboards. But Gong was not about to not doing it right, or well. If there were some errors here and there, they were hardly noticeable, and the steadiness that the ground session provided added to a magnificent evening, one that has been overdue for 20 years at least.

The show, itself, musically, was highly on par with the 25th Birthday Party recording show, the only difference being the missing sound system.... but even with garage equipment, this band can do very well... it did. And the kudos must be mentioned for the hosts in this show, who were gracious, and helpful, and with a nice sense of humor on top.




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