What a year it is for loons, hippies and freaks. 60 years since the opening of the City Lights bookshop, 50 years of the Grateful Dead and,best of all, here come the Ozric Tentacles again.
More than 30 years into their journey, the Ozrics have had the energy and will to create a brand new double album, Technicians Of The Sacred, and to tour it. Where the Dead are set to say farewell once and for all to their long, strange trip, the Ozrics just go on reinventing themselves around the compositional direction and production of guitarist and keyboardist Ed Wynne.
The latest line-up came to Oxford for the last of a short run of UK dates before they headed off around the world. Support was Mantis Mash (Natan Lenski), but, frankly, having been nearly deafened by him at a previous show, my friend and I adjourned to the nearby Library for a pleasant pint.
We returned to the O2 just as the lights dimmed. The Ozrics are a great fit for venues like the Academy. You can get fully immersed in the sound, the lights and the happy throng, with a little room to go nuts if you want to.
Crucially, the sound was very good, though clearly they were struggling a bit with the monitoring on stage. It all added to the bonhomie though, and from where we were, it was excellent.
Bouquets too are due to the lights and visuals, which were as good as I’ve seen in 20 years of Ozric watching. The band have never been great ones for throwing shapes on stage, so the light show is a vital ingredient and it was gorgeous. Siddartha meets Pythagoras, on the way to the Yum Yum Tree and Erpland.
And then, of course, there’s the music. I had not heard the new album and there were several tracks featured in the show. They’re unmistakably Ozric-ish, but perhaps a little more ambient and chilled. In between, classics like Sploosh!, Xingu and Eternal Wheel bathed us in trippy joy.
Brandi Wynne locked it all down with her dub-like bass sound, Balázs Szende was magnificent and groovy on drums, Ed was fluent and inventive, and long-time friend and guest percussionist Paul Hankin was nice to see, but hard to hear.
But star of the show these days is Ed’s son Silas on the keys. Snaking, swirling sounds spiral and sizzle from his synths as he stands statue-like to the side of the stage, sometimes smiling subtly. Enigmatic, or what?
They’re away now for a while, but they’ll be back. If you like your music transcendent, don’t miss them.