Paul casts his critical eye over Space Rock marvels Ozric Tentacles;
Ozric Tentacles – The Globe 27 October
Several weeks ago my boss, who is partial to a bit of space rock amongst his hugely eclectic musical tastes asked if I fancied going to see Ozric Tentacles. I have to admit that, although I had an idea of who this band was, it was hell of a long time since I could honestly say I’d heard any of their stuff. My hazy recollections were of Hawkind without words. Hey, I love Hawkwind so without hesitation I agreed and the night was suddenly upon us. A quick stop in the Andrew Buchan bar was very pleasant and a must for any real ale fans. I know I’m digressing but I don’t care. Two pints from the Rhymney Brewery for under a fiver. Result!
Anyway, we arrived at the Globe in time to catch Forked Tongue giving it a right good go. A cross between Skindred, Rage Against The Machine with massive space rock and reggae influences, they definitely had a hard core groove to their sound. Unfortunately they suffered from being the opening act and had to work hard to impress the hardy souls who had ventured out in ‘the storm’. I’m not particularly familiar with the terminology that describes this type of music; fusion I suppose is the best description. Full of energy, vocalist Pezmo gave his all and by the end of their set, more and more of the audience were starting to cut a shape or two as the groove driven by the drums and bass section of Vinny and Greg became quite infectious. A brave cover of Feur Frei, yes, sung in German, ended their set to a decent ovation. 7/10
I’m going to skip over the next act, as Israeli techno delivered by one man and his apple is just not my thing and move on to the main act.
Ozric Tentacles for the uninitiated were touring as part of their 30th Formed in Somerset in 1983, the band have released over 25 albums and amassed a hardcore following. The group have sold over a million albums worldwide, and are driven forward by the only constant band member, guitarist and keyboardist Ed Wynne. However, the band is no longer based in Wurzel country, having settled in Colorado many years ago. Now, I have to admit, that I know very few of their songs by name, which is probably unsurprising considering that they are totally instrumental so I won’t try to impress you (or not) by trying. Suffice to say that The Ozrics got straight down to business and proceeded to drive out and hour and a half of space rock combined with funk, jazz fusion, dub and reggae. The band is pushed forward by bassist Brandi Wynne who combined superbly with new recruit Balázs Szende and percussionist Paul Hankin with thumping basslines throughout. For those of you old enough think Gong and you won’t be far away. Swirling keyboards from Silas Wynne, son of Ed (and whose biog on the band’s web page included olives and hummus amongst his favourite foods – you get the picture) all added to the psychedelic mixture. You will not be surprised to learn that The Ozrics music contains more time changes than a Cardiff Bus timetable. This combined with complex arrangements and regular key signature changes made it an interesting gig. As well as the progressive rock influences, the music included many electronic elements and effects with dub and techno influences running throughout. This was supported by a huge visual display behind them; a constant changing kaleidoscope as well as flying creatures of all sorts; a bat and pteranodon amongst them. Floating heads and all manner of other hippy induced bollocks raced across the screen, tied perfectly to the music’s tempo. This was a highly professional and tight performance, by a band clearly at the top of their game. If you fancy listening to them, start with Paper Monkeys from 2012 it will give you a pretty clear idea. Overall, this was a cracking night out with superb musicianship on display. A very healthy crowd provided suitable encouragement and the band responded in kind. All in all an excellent bit of entertainment which could be massively enhanced if it was 2am at a festival and you were completely off your tits. 8/10