Even as Steve Hillage paid tribute to the psychedelic rock band Gong in 2006 at the Melkweg in Amsterdam, he also took a lengthy look back at his own underrated solo work from the 1970s.
Live at Gong Family Unconvention, Amsterdam, due in both CD and DVD formats on September 10, 2012, from Gonzo MultiMedia, focuses on the latter — as the Steve Hillage Band, which hadn’t appeared on together in some 25 years, performed tracks from 1975′s Fish Rising, 1976′s L, 1977′s Motivation Radio, and 1983′s For To Next.
What those solo albums did, this live set makes clear, is point the way for Hillage’s transition from volcanically inventive guitar player to a quirk-filled innovator behind the boards. Before he would go on to work as a producer (Simple Minds, the Charlatans, Murray Head and Robyn Hitchcock) and then architect of ambient techno (System 7), Hillage would issue a series of recordings that focused more on imaginative band interplay and textured arrangements.
The guitar work is often a long time coming, though when it finally arrives, there are these pupil-dilating outbursts of kaleidoscopic sounds — each of them their own undeniably persuasive argument for a long-awaited return to Hillage band projects.