Steve Hillage: Live At The Rainbow 1977

Levitational space-rock from onetime Gong guru.

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Steve Hillage was nearing his peak by the time he fetched up at London’s Rainbow Theatre in 1977, flush with the success of the Todd Rundgren-produced L (which made the Top 10) and the arrival of an impressive new album, Motivation Radio.

This terrific set finds him digging deep into the latter, giving the nod to his old Gongmates with Octave Doctors and offering up 15 minutes of trance-like cosmology with Searching For The Spark. Radio is lovely too, starting off all ambient-acoustic before becoming progressively more animated. That said, it’s Hillage’s more rockist urges that set the pulse racing here. Saucer Surfing, introduced as a “new psychic sport”, bubbles and builds into the kind of thing that Rush would make a career from. Heavy licks abound on Light In The Sky and Solar Musick Suite Part Two, which showcases Hillage’s fine guitar virtuosity. The biggest cheer of the night is for a cover of The Beatles’ It’s All Too Much, with Hillage’s powerchords echoing the churchy riff of synth-playing partner Miquette Giraudy. Top marks, too, to a blinding rhythm section of bassist Curtis Robertson and drummer Joe Blocker. Pretty much vintage Hillage.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.