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Gentle Giant Tour History

*** Part One ***

*** The Early Days ***


(1970 - 1971)


new information will be in RED


* Prologue *



Gentle Giant was formed by the three Shulman brothers (Phil, Derek and Ray), all of whom had earlier been in the late '60's British pop/soul/rock and roll band known as Simon Dupree and the Big Sound.  This earlier group, formed in 1966, played all around England for about four years, enjoying the odd TV and radio spot, as well.  They managed one album and one UK Top 5 single, but failed to make any lasting impression on England's pop music scene.  By the end of 1969, the Shulmans decided to disband Simon Dupree and set their eyes on the growing market for a more creative, intelligent type of music that eventually came to be called progressive rock.  Simon Dupree may have stayed together long enough to complete contractual obligations into January 1970, as a number of gigs are known to have been advertised, including an appearance in Bath on Jan. 23.  Some of these concerts may very well have been canceled, but one published Simon Dupree source did mention Bath as being that band’s final gig.  Another show in Derby was even announced for February 26, but it’s very unlikely that particular show went ahead as planned.

Whatever the case, by February 1970, they had formed their new group, retaining Martin Smith from his time at the tail end of the previous group, and adding new members Kerry Minnear and Gary Green.  Derek and Kerry have both stated that the group originally hoped to simply call themselves Giant, but an alternate name was suggested by a booking agent named Colin Richardson who worked at their management company, the Gerry Bron Agency.  Richardson noticed the music they had begun working on had both powerful and delicate qualities, so he proposed the longer nameGentle Giant and the band agreed.  This new group strove for a sound that was adventurous, challenging and distinctly its own.  Right from the start, their compositions seemed to be equal parts rock, jazz, classical, avant-garde, blues, medieval, and whatever else they could mix into the musical stew.  They were ambitious, to say the least, but with their vocal and multi-instrumental virtuosity, they were confident that they could realize their vision.






Feb. ?           Gentle Giant was formed, classically-trained Kerry Minnear being recruited on keyboards from a defunct band called Rust just returning from Europe.  Formal rehearsals and songwriting sessions began immediately in Portsmouth, England.  Kerry brought Rust’s guitarist, a gentleman named Eric Lindsey, into the band with him so it could be said that Lindsey was Giant’s first official guitar player.  However, it was clear from the start that he wasn’t really right for the job so his stay was short.  After a few weeks, he was let go and the band immediately began looking for someone to permanently fill the guitar spot.


Mar. ?           During March, Gary Green joined Gentle Giant.  Thirty to thirty-five guitarists vied for the spot, with the Shulman brothers viewing Gary as clearly superior.  Gary has stated that, by the time of his arrival, the musical framework for a number of songs had already been mapped out.


Apr. ?           In April, the brand-new band went into Philips Studios in London for their very first recording session, the intention being to record an audition tape for the progressive leaning Vertigo record label, Philips being Vertigo’s parent organization.  The liner notes included with the 1997 UNDER CONSTRUCTION album state that this happened on Feb. 23, but that is clearly wrong, as Gary had not even joined the band by that date.  Kerry has confirmed April as the correct month of this session.  The songs on the audition tape were Weekend Cowboy, Bringing Me Down and an early version of Nothing at All.  Apparently, the band did sufficiently impress Vertigo, as the label did end up signing them to their first record contract shortly after.  There has been some indication that Weekend Cowboy and Freedom's Child were at one point intended for release as a single and, in fact, early advertisements did suggest a single was planned for later in the year, but the truth of this has not yet been verified one way or the other.  Whatever the case, all these songs remained unreleased until their inclusion on UNDER CONSTRUCTION.



For the first few months of its existence, Giant was more or less a studio band.  Instead of concentrating on live work, they were content to spend their time shaping the musical direction of the band in the rehearsal hall and recording studio.  They spent quite some time early on rehearsing in a cottage in Southampton.  At the time, they mostly lived off profits from the Simon Dupree days and financial support from their manager, Gerry Bron.  By mid 1970, the group began playing sporadic live gigs, generally in the Portsmouth area, before even recording their first album.  Kerry recalls early appearances with the Faces and others with Rory Gallagher.  As the year wore on, they hit the stage more and more often.  The vast majority of these gigs were in England, the band rarely venturing onto continental Europe.  It was customary for live bands at the time to display their band name on their bass drum.  Following suit, Martin’s bass drum was decorated with a particularly elaborate, colorful design painted by yet another Shulman brother, Terry Shulman.  The head of this bass drum has been spotted hanging on the wall in a couple Hard Rock Café restaurants in America.




Ad for Gerry Bron Organization    1970



In concert, they mostly played the songs that would turn up on their first album.  They are known to have played all seven of these songs live, plus a few others, though not all at every concert, and the order was undoubtedly switched around from time to time.  Choosing from these songs allowed them to feature each of the players on a variety of instruments.  Switching instruments back and forth became one of their trademarks.  The band members became so comfortable with these songs that material from their first album continued to make up the bulk of their setlists well into 1972.


TYPICAL SETLIST  (Mid 1970 - Mid 1971)



Funny Ways - Kerry’s vibraphone solo was much more subdued originally than the frantic renditions he played on later tours.


Isn’t It Quiet and Cold?

Nothing At All - This song, in particular, showed off the group’s versatility as it included a percussion break that not only featured Martin Smith but, according to Kerry, also saw he and Ray pounding on the drums.  It’s been said that Derek ended this break by beating a gong.  Eventually, in later years, this evolved into a full 5-man drum bash, still including Derek’s gong.  This is also the only live number on which Kerry played the bass guitar.

Why Not?

Plain Truth - This song eventually appeared on the second album, ACQUIRING THE TASTE.  It served as a vehicle for Ray Shulman’s violin solo which became a fixture on many future tours.  Like Kerry’s vibraphone solo described above, this solo was, at first, a bit more reserved but, in later years, Ray extended it and added quadrophonic echo effects, turning the song into quite a crowd pleaser.

Hometown Special - never included on any of their regular albums, though it saw release many years later

City Hermit - also never included on a regular GG album, but released many years later.  On stage, the band originally referred to the song by the name City Hermit, Me.

The Queen - generally used to end the main set, giving the band members a chance to thank and say goodbye to the audience

Peel Off the Paint - Often used as an encore, this song could be considered an early precursor to Peel the Paint from the third album.  However, although the lyrics were very similar, the music was quite different in nature.  It included an extended guitar solo.



Sadly, very few live recordings from the early days of the band exist, so it is not known whether any other material such as Weekend Cowboy, Bringing Me Down or  Freedom's Child may have been included in their stage shows at that time.  However, it is known that a song called Evil Woman was played live in the early days, one which Gary described as a "very pretty, lilting tune".  A 12-string guitar chord pattern from that song was recycled into the song Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It many years later.



May 9            Portsmouth, England                 Portsmouth Polytechnic - Union House                                         

                              Contemporary write-ups in a Portsmouth newspaper verify this as being Gentle Giant's very first gig, an event further corroborated by a recently discovered concert poster.  A 1973 issue of Melody Maker also makes reference to the band’s first public performance as having been in their hometown.  Beginning in 1965, Union House held the college’s Student Union facilities.  The four story building contained not only Union offices and meeting rooms, but also a couple bars, a lounge and even a travel agency.  It also contained a hall used for concerts such as this one, the hall being simply called Union House Hall.  The Union’s Entertainment Committee that would book these events would then use the name “Soc Scene” to promote them.  In 1991, Portsmouth Polytechnic merged with Portsmouth Art School and the following year, the college was renamed University of Portsmouth, as it is still known today.  Gary Green has described this as a “tune-up gig” and the band members were quite nervous. Giant was the headline act with Fairfield Parlour serving as the opener.  This support band was managed by BBC deejay David Symonds and already had its first single getting some radio airplay.  This raises the question of why Giant, a band with no gigs under its belt, was granted the headline position.  It can only be assumed that, while Fairfield Parlour was a London based group, Giant’s status as local Portsmouth residents worked in their favor.  Simon Dupree and the Big Sound had been hometown heroes and it may be assumed that many in Portsmouth would be interested in seeing what the Shulman brothers had come up with next.  In fact, the concert poster even stated that the “exciting new sound” of Gentle Giant would feature “ace singer Simon Dupree”.  The band’s exact setlist at this premier concert cannot be determined, except to say that they definitely ended with The Queen, a tradition they continued for quite a while afterwards.  The hall had no seats, requiring all in attendance to stand.  Perhaps 1,000 or a bit more could safely fit inside, although fire regulations were known to be ignored from time to time.  Unfortunately, although the Portsmouth Evening News gave an encouraging review, the newspaper also described the turnout for Giant as “disappointing”.  The Student Union moved out of Union House in 1983.  The original building is now a gymnasium run by the University.




Portsmouth Polytechnic - the band’s very first gig    May 9, 1970



June 6          Exeter, England                          Exeter University                    

                              UNCONFIRMED.  GG was set to open for Van Der Graaf Generator on this date.  Members of the headlining band arrived in town early and did some sunbathing.  It was quite a hot day, however, and one of them ended up with sunstroke and had to be hospitalized.  A member of VdGG has confirmed that his band went ahead and played the gig anyway without the hospitalized member.  That leaves the question of whether Giant played its opening set.  Gary seems to recall that they may not have, but this is still open to debate.



Exeter ad - unconfirmed concert    June 6, 1970



June 20         Hamburg, Germany                         Klein Flottbek                         

                              Giant appeared, along with a roster of all British acts, on the first day of the two day “Hamburg Open Air Pop Festival”, more commonly known as the "Big Gig Festival”.  This was one of the few concerts GG played outside of England in 1970.  Other bands that appeared on the same day included Humble Pie, Black Sabbath, Steamhammer and Uriah Heep, while Colosseum, Family and Juicy Lucy were among the bands that played on June 21.  It was held on a very hot weekend in a 20,000 seat outdoor venue and it’s estimated about 10,000 fans actually attended over the course of the two day event.  Two stages were employed to cut down on delays between acts.  A press review described how, when the festival began, people living nearby became quite upset at the loud volume.  Residents up to four kilometers away phoned to complain.  Festival organizers did eventually end up turning down the volume a bit.  Being a new band, Giant probably played early in the day, though it’s not known if their volume was found offensive.  A tiny bit of GG’s performance has shown up on a German newsreel but whether more exists remains to be seen.





Hamburg - “Big Gig Festival”    June 20, 1970



June 25         London, England                        Haverstock Hill Country Club             

                              This was billed as a special promotional appearance of some sort, with no other bands taking part.



London - Haverstock Hill ad    June 25, 1970



June 29         There was a rumor that the band recorded a studio session on this date for the BBC, with the intention that it air on deejay Terry Wogan's afternoon radio program.  However, this is unlikely, as there is no hard evidence of either a recording or a subsequent broadcast.


July 2            London, England                        Speakeasy

July 4            Portsmouth, England                 Greyhound Stadium               

                              This was an open-air festival billed as "Popday '70" and promoted as a “progressive extravaganza”.  Also on the bill were ten other bands, including the Strawbs, the Keef Hartley Band, East of Eden and Uriah Heep.  The master of ceremonies was Mike Raven, who introduced each band.  Melody Maker subsequently reviewed the event poorly, claiming it had “a turn-out of about 300 people in a stadium capable of holding 10,000 and a house PA system that was unbelievably bad”.  Greyhound Stadium was a dog-racing track.






Portsmouth - “Popday 70 Festival”    July 4, 1970



July 10          Birmingham, England                 Mother's                                 

                              GG was the only live band performing on this date at this well-known Birmingham club.  However, in advertising for the gig, they actually received second billing to BBC presenter Andy Ferris who was providing deejay services.



Birmingham ad    July 10, 1971



July 15          London, England                              Marquee Club                         

                              According to records kept by the Marquee and published in the book London Live, Giant was only ever booked to play three times at this famed London nightclub.  This was the first, the others being on Sept. 14, 1970 and Nov. 24, 1971.  Unlike many of their contemporaries in the young progressive rock genre, Giant never secured a regular weekly residency at the Marquee.  They were never a London-based band, preferring to use the Shulmans’ home town of Portsmouth as their base of operations for most of the 1970’s.  This may have been a contributing factor to the difficult time they had later on gaining acceptance by English audiences.  On this night, they played in support of Slade. 



London ad - first Marquee Club appearance    July 15, 1970



July 21          The band recorded their first verified BBC studio session at the Playhouse Theatre in London, England.  Two out of the three songs from this session, City Hermit and Isn't It Quiet and Cold?, appear on the 1996 album, OUT OF THE WOODS and the 2000 album, TOTALLY OUT OF THE WOODS.  The third song, Freedom's Child, is missing.


Aug. 17         The BBC session from July 21 was broadcast on Sounds of the Seventies, hosted by David Symonds.  The other band having studio sessions on the same broadcast was called Honeybus.  Simon Dupree had had a number of BBC sessions aired, but this was the first confirmed time Gentle Giant appeared on British radio.



 BBC Sounds of the Seventies - very first radio appearance    Aug. 17, 1970



Aug. ?           Their first full album, GENTLE GIANT, was recorded at Trident Studios in London.  It took only a couple weeks to record, but the group had been writing and rehearsing in preparation for this since the beginning of their time together.


Aug. 29         The UNDER CONSTRUCTION liner notes state that on this date, at Trident Studios, the band recorded Freedom's Child and Hometown Special.  In that case, these two songs would certainly have been recorded as part of the overall recording sessions for the first album, although they did not see the light of day until their inclusion on UNDER CONSTRUCTION.


Sep. 10         Eastleigh, England                     Concorde Club

                              The Concorde Club is a still active music venue just north of Southampton.  GG performed a number of times in the Southampton area during their early years, the city being only about 20 miles from their home base of Portsmouth, and it’s reasonable to assume that not all of the gigs have been uncovered yet.  Records kept by the club show that Simon Dupree and the Big Sound played there an amazing nineteen times, although those same records only confirm one appearance by Gentle Giant.  Up until three weeks before this gig, the Concorde Club was located inside the Bassett Hotel right in the city of Southampton, but this Sep. 10 show was actually held at the newly opened Eastleigh location.  Gary believes the band may have played more than once at the Concorde, including possible very early dates at the Bassett Hotel itself.  An archivist at the club points out that if the band had any last-minute bookings, they may not have appeared in advertised programs at the time.

Sep. 14         London, England                        Marquee Club                         

                              shared the bill with Czar and another band named Jenks




London ads - second Marquee Club appearance    Sep. 14, 1970



Sep. 28         Ads in New Musical Express and other UK publications confirm a BBC session as being broadcast on this date on Sounds of the Seventies, hosted by David Symonds, more than likely a rebroadcast of the earlier July 21 session.  Also appearing with sessions on this date’s program were Spencer Davis and Peter Jameson.


Oct. 8            Martin Griffiths, the lead singer for the Scottish band Beggars Opera, recalls a release party for that band’s first album held at Ronnie Scott’s club in London on Oct. 8, 1970, Griffiths’ 21st birthday.  He remembers his band playing with Gentle Giant as part of the celebration, both bands being recently signed to Vertigo Records.  This may have been a private party, but it is unclear.


Oct. 9            London, England                        The Temple                            

                              a triple bill with Tear Gas on first, a band called Kiss playing second, and Giant taking the stage last.  This is not the same Kiss that captured the hearts of heavy metal fans later in the 1970's, although Giant and that band did actually follow each other at an American venue on August 23, 1975.  The Temple was similar in design to the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool and was located down a steep set of stairs from Ronnie Scott’s, a well-known London jazz nightclub.  On this particular night, Kiss needed help getting their mellotron down these stairs, so two of Giant’s roadies cheerfully gave them a hand.  At the conclusion of their set, Giant didn’t play a traditional encore, instead playing some sort of loose jam.  The crowd was impressed with the band and, according to Kiss’ road manager, that band became Giant fans this night.  Ironically, Kiss wasn’t even on the bill originally.  Early ads showed the band Arcadium was scheduled to play with Tear Gas and Giant, but later ads confirmed that Kiss had taken their place.




London - Temple ads - original and revised bill    Oct. 9, 1970



Oct. 10          Coventry, England                      Lanchester Polytechnic - Students’ Union                                         

                              shared a bill with Stone the Crows and Mead.  In the Coventry Evening Herald, Giant was advertised as “Simon Dupree’s New Group”.



 Coventry ad    Oct. 10, 1970



Nov. 13         Maidstone, England                    Maidstone Technical College

                              GG, along with the band Ginhouse, both opened for Stray whose advertised lightshow, according to an attendee, was quite impressive.



Maidstone poster    Nov. 13, 1970



Nov. 14         Exeter, England                          Exeter University                    

                              UNCONFIRMED.  For quite some time, it was assumed that Giant played this gig where they were was preceded by Quatermass, both opening for Ginger Baker's Air Force.  There is certainly evidence to support this but one online source now claims that Baker was actually supported by Arthur Brown’s new band Kingdom Come in the University’s Devonshire House.  Confirmation on exactly what happened is needed.  Regardless of who opened the show, Baker himself had a bad night, being accused of arriving late, threatening people from the stage, getting into a physical altercation with a doorman, and a couple instances of lewd behavior.  As a result, the University withheld 100 pounds from his fee.

Nov. 26         Dundee, Scotland                       Dundee University


Nov. 27         On this date, their first album, GENTLE GIANT, was apparently released by Vertigo in England, followed by European releases over the next few months.  However, it was not originally released in America.  This UK release date of Nov. 27 seems fairly definitive, but album release dates are often very difficult to pin down exactly.  Even when a specific date was planned and advertised, it sometimes got moved back or forward at the last minute.  At times, it may have been leaked prematurely in certain locales.  For these reasons, all release dates in this Tour History should cautiously be viewed merely as best evidence available so far.  Further information is always welcome. 



Ad for first album release    Nov. 27, 1970



Nov. 27         Glasgow, Scotland                     Morpheus                               

                              This popular Glasgow night spot had previously been known as the Maryland Club.



Glasgow press notice    Nov. 27, 1970



Nov. 28         Kirklevington, England               Country Club


Dec. 1           The band recorded their second BBC studio session, this time at London's Maida Vale Studio 5.  The songs were Hometown Special, Nothing at All and Funny Ways.  Unfortunately, this entire session is missing.


Dec. 2           Harlow, England                         Aquarius Birdcage                 

                              shared the bill with Gnidrolog.  Stewart Goldring of Gnidrolog remembers Gentle Giant as being "not so gentle!"



Harlow ad    Dec. 2, 1970



Dec. 5           London, England                        Bumpers                                 

                              The band played this gig alone.  Bumpers was a brand new 600 seat club which was promoted in the press as having a “progressive policy”.  Advertisements showed a closed, “invitation only” concert on Dec. 3, with the Dec. 5 Giant show being only the second concert open to the public.



London - Bumpers ad    Dec. 5, 1970



Dec. 7           Bolton, England                          Bolton Casino                         

                              This was the annual ball sponsored by the Bolton School of Art.  It was held at a nearby venue which, although named the Casino, was actually a dance hall and had nothing to do with gambling.  Opening the show was guitarist Mike Harding who later went on to considerable fame as a comedian and BBC presenter but who, at the time, was an unknown.  Second on the bill was a band called Embryo.  A member of this band claims his group played horribly, but were consoled afterwards by kind words from some of the members of Giant.  GG themselves closed the show in the headlining slot.  At one point during Giant’s set, an employee of the venue came up on stage and asked the band to turn the volume down because the "neighbors are complaining."  The band laughed and carried on without changing anything.


Dec. 8           The second BBC session was broadcast on Sounds of the Seventies, hosted by Mike Harding.  Studio sessions by the band Greatest Show on Earth were also featured on this program.


Dec. 10         London, England                        Lyceum                                   

                              opened for Colosseum.  Ian Carr's Nucleus also played support on this bill.  A Melody Maker review called Giant’s music “twee” and criticized the band’s frequent switching of instruments as being “pretentious for the sake of it”.  In an odd twist, this latter phrase became a wry badge of honor for the band and even appeared as the title of their 1977 compilation album.




London Lyceum - ad and infamous Melody Maker review    Dec. 10, 1970



Dec. 12         London, England                        Speakeasy

                              Photographer and friend of the band Nigel Grundy recounts in his book that, during GG’s set, a sketchy looking character wandered onto the stage and tried to join in.  Two of the roadies, Frank Covey and Mark Bradshaw, steered him offstage but three hours later, after the band had packed up and was leaving, they encountered this same character outside.  Expecting trouble, they were relieved to find that he had been waiting all that time just to apologize.  Grundy also reported that Peter Frampton was in the audience this evening.



New Musical Express notice for London Speakeasy and Redcar gigs    Dec. 1970



Dec. 18         Redcar, England                         Redcar Jazz Club - Coatham Hotel     

                              Located in the northeast of England, this was a very popular mecca for up-and-coming rock bands in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Dec. 19         Durham, England                        Durham University


Dec. ?           Over the UK holiday period of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, Dec. 24 through Dec. 26, BBC competitor Radio Luxembourg included in their evening broadcasts what they described as “Christmas messages and record dedications” by a number of musicians and celebrities.  Gentle Giant was among this list of UK musicians whose messages were aired.


Dec. 30         London, England                        Tooting Castle                        

                              Czar played support.



London - Tooting Castle ad    Dec. 30, 1970



            Long-time fans of the band remember several other UK gigs from very early in the 1970's, but they are not all confirmed and specific details do not exist.  Even the exact year of the concerts is unknown, except to say that 1970 or 1971 is likely for most of them.  It is known that, early on, they shared a bill on at least one occasion with a London band called Clear Blue Sky, although no date, city or venue information is available.  Additionally, there have long been rumors that Giant shared early bills with the Italian band Premiata Forneria Marconi, later known simply as PFM, but so far, no such dates have been found.



???               Brynmawr, Wales                       Semtex Club

                              A member of the audience became a long-term fan of the band after seeing this show.  An exact date is unknown but he remembers it as being “just after they changed their name from Simon Dupree and the Big Sound”, possibly placing it as a very early gig.

???               Eastleigh, England                     Technical College                   


???               Fareham, England                      Fareham Youth Centre           

                              Although not able to recall the exact date, other than being prior to December 1971, a fan does specifically remember this early gig and recalls the band as being eagerly anticipated by the youth of the area and very loud the night of the show.  At the time, Youth Centres and Youth Clubs were common places for up and coming British bands to play on their way up the ladder of success.  This particular centre hosted many rock concerts in the 1960’s and the early 1970’s.  This was a separate gig from the Fareham Technical College show of May 28, 1971 listed below.

???               Hertford, England                       Balls Park Teacher Training College                                            

                              recalled recently by a BBC presenter during an interview with Ray Shulman

???               Salisbury, England                     Alex Rooms

                              Giant definitely played a gig here early on, in either 1970 or 1971.  Although the exact date is not known, it may have been on a Saturday.  On this day of the week, the club regularly held an “Alex Disco” night featuring many up and coming bands and big name acts.

???               York, England                             Hypnotique

                              This gig, taking place in 1970 or 1971, is remembered by a fan as getting only a mediocre response from the crowd.  The Hypnotique was a small dance club with an official capacity of about 200, although some times more were squeezed in.  This show probably took place on a Thursday, as that is the day the club usually hosted live bands.

???               Coventry, England                      Whitley Abbey School

                              It’s already known GG played here on Dec. 8, 1971, but a student at the time remembers the band playing here twice in their early days.  The unknown date was probably before the Dec. 8 show and has been described as a school dance.  They were so well received on this first visit to the school that they were specifically invited back for the second.

???               Aberdeen, Scotland                    University of Aberdeen - Student Union

                              UNCONFIRMED.  This is, at best, a vague recollection by a fan who may have been in attendance.

???               Portsmouth, England                 South Parade Pier                  

                              UNCONFIRMED.  recalled simply as being from the “early 1970’s”

???               Sheffield, England                      City Hall                                  

                              UNCONFIRMED.  All that’s known about this concert is that it took place sometime in the “early 70’s” and that GG opened for Supertramp.  Supposedly, Supertramp were quite poorly receiv






            During the first few months of 1971, Gentle Giant still tended to spend a lot of time on songwriting and recording, but they were also doing more and more live work.  They stuck with the same basic setlist of their inventive originals but, unfortunately, they had some trouble shaking the Simon Dupree tag with the English audiences.  A press report at the time mentioned that they planned to do a six-week US tour later in the year, possibly with a big-name American band, but this never came to pass. The group didn’t make it to America until the latter part of 1972.



Jan. - Apr.     Their second album, ACQUIRING THE TASTE, was recorded at A.I.R. and Advision Studios in London.


Jan. 5            The BBC Sounds of the Seventies program, hosted by Mike Harding, rebroadcast Giant’s second studio session, recorded on Dec. 1, 1970.  Other acts presenting live sessions on this episode are unknown and, in fact, Giant’s may have been the only session included.


???               Portsmouth, England                 Tricorn Club                           

                              This is a fascinating gig recalled by Pete Cross, the Tricorn’s deejay at the time, and corroborated by Phil Shulman in a 2009 radio interview.  Apparently, a ballad singer by the name of Richard Barnes was booked to play this club but needed a backup band.  Gerry Bron, who managed both Giant and Barnes, asked Giant if they could help by backing Barnes at the gig.  They agreed and after a very short time for rehearsal, all six members of the band appeared at the show, setting up on tiered levels behind the singer.  Interestingly, a string section was also employed to bolster the sound and give it the right cabaret feel for Barnes’ ballads.  The exact date of the show is unknown, except that it occurred on a Saturday.  Gary, who also specifically recalls this unusual concert, believes it to have taken place in early 1971.

???               Portsmouth, England                 Tricorn Club                           

                              The club’s deejay, Pete Cross, has also confirmed that the group played on a few other early occasions at this Portsmouth night spot.  It’s known at least one of these appearances was on a Tuesday, as that was the day of the week the club set aside for presenting the more “progressive” acts.

???               Cardiff, Wales                             Llandaff Technical College                 

                              A fan at the show seems to recall hearing the song Black Cat.  This might have placed the show more correctly in 1971 but, actually, band members have no memory of ever playing this song on stage.

Jan. 16          London, England                        Imperial College                     

                              shared the bill with Affinity, a member of Affinity confirming that Giant was the headliner



London - Imperial College ad    Jan. 16, 1971



 Jan. 22         London, England                        Bedford College                     

                              shared the bill with Uriah Heep



London - Bedford College ad    Jan. 22, 1971



Jan. 29          Exeter, England                          Exeter University                    

                              scheduled to open for the Faces, but the headliners did not show up.  GG played an extended set alone.  A decent crowd was in attendance and seemed to enjoy the show.  Phil was recently asked about this gig and, although he has an excellent memory, he could not recall this one.



Exeter flyer    Jan. 29, 1971



Jan. 31          Southend-on-Sea, England         Palace Theatre                       

                              Here, Giant played in support of Uriah Heep, the gig being promoted by a gentleman named Jon Paul whose main occupation was as the owner of a local clothing outlet.  The only substantive information about the band’s set on this evening was that they did indeed open with Giant.

Feb. 1           Wolverhampton, England           The Catacombs

                              The band was again advertised as “ex-Simon Dupree”.



Wolverhampton ad    Feb. 1, 1972



Feb. 2           London, England                        Lyceum                                   

                              This was a lunchtime gig billed as a “lunchtime workshop”.  The venue was open from noon until 3:00 P.M. and deejay Andy Dunkley was also on hand for the event.



London - Lyceum ad    Feb. 2, 1971



Feb. 7           North Finchley, England             Torrington                              

                              a show they played alone




Press notices for North Finchley and Winchester gigs    Feb. 1971



Feb. 12          Winchester, England                  King Alfred’s College - John Stripe Theatre                                                                             

                              This gig was arranged by a boyhood friend of Ray Shulman’s named Rick Fudge who was attending this teaching college at the time and who was thanked from the stage during the band’s introduction.  An existing tape of the concert, recorded by a member of the road crew, is the earliest known live Gentle Giant recording.  It includes the only known live recordings of Hometown Special, City Hermit, Isn't It Quiet and Cold? and Peel Off the Paint, all of which disappeared from their setlist shortly afterwards.  The tape remained in the possession of a band member and, for years, the possibility was floated that the band would someday release it officially.  In 2009, they finally did under the simple title KING ALFRED’S COLLEGE.  In 2019, it was remastered and again included in the massive 30-CD boxset UNBURIED TREASURE, issued by Snapper Music.  Some band members had originally remembered this to be from the band's fifth gig in 1970.  However, they were incorrect.  On the recording, Derek mentions that the first album had been released "seven weeks ago" and they had just been in the studio recording Plain Truth as their first recording for their second album.  This places the gig in the first half of February 1971.  Final confirmation of the date can be found in the Feb. 6, 1971 issue of New Musical Express which includes an announcement that Giant were scheduled to play at “Winchester College Theatre (February 12)”.  Curiously, Derek also mentions on the recording that Plain Truth was to be included as a bonus track on an upcoming U.S. release of their first album, an event that did not come to pass.  On this night, the band played to a "packed house", as Derek described it, also claiming that to be "unusual" for the band's college gigs at the time.  John Stripe Theatre was a small to medium sized facility with a few hundred tiered seats.  As it turns out, Rick Fudge arranged a return engagement to this same college on March 4, 1973, shortly after Phil Shulman had left the band. 

Feb. 13          Ryde, England                            Royal York Hotel - 69 Club

                              At this club on the northern coast of the Isle of Wight, the support act was one of the Island’s most popular acts, a band called Wilfred.



Ryde ad    Feb. 13, 1971



Feb. 18          London, England                        NEL Polytechnic                     

                              This gig was part of an “Arts Festival” held at this college that ran for a number of days, ending on Feb. 20.  On this particular date, only Giant and Colosseum played, with Giant opening.  Proceeds for all of the Arts Festival performances went to the local Community Action charity.



London - NEL Poytechnic “Arts Festival” ad    Feb. 18, 1971



Feb. 26          London, England                        Horseshoe Pub                       

                              another lunchtime gig, this time billed as a “lunchtime live album”.  The Horseshoe regularly held these events at which bands were invited to perform live the music from their latest album.  There is an unsubstantiated report that a recording of this performance may exist.



London - Horseshoe Pub ad    Feb. 26, 1971



Feb. 27          Manchester, England                  Manchester University - Student Union                                         

                              Giant opened for Colosseum at this concert, as confirmed by newspaper listings and an existing poster.  The poster clearly states that the headlining band “will be recording live tracks for their next LP”.  It’s long been known that Colosseum did indeed record their show at Manchester University in the spring of 1971, some of which was released on their LIVE album later in the year, but it’s generally been assumed that this recorded gig was held on Mar. 18.  However, new evidence has come to light showing they recorded a total of five gigs as source material for their album, including two trips to Manchester University, on both Feb. 27 and Mar. 18.  They were so impressed with the venue’s acoustics the first time around that they offered to return the second time for free, to do further recording.  Giant appeared as openers on the Feb. 27 date and Paladin opened on Mar. 18.  Nevertheless, some conflicting information does exist.  Multiple ads show that Sandy Denny’s folk-rock group Fotheringay was at one point scheduled to play the University’s Student Union on Feb. 27, but that group supposedly disbanded in late 1970, so it can be assumed 1971 engagements were canceled.  Other ads have Cat Stevens and Duster Bennet sharing a bill at the University on this same date, but that was actually scheduled at the Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, a part of the greater University, which housed its own smaller concert hall.



Manchester poster    Feb. 27, 1971



Mar. 1           London, England                        City of London Polytech         

                              Swegas was the headliner with Giant, Formerly Fat Harry and a band called Gehenna opening.  This event was advertised as a ragdance, basically a student charity dance.



London - Polytech ad    Mar. 1, 1971



Mar. 5           Manchester, England                  Didsbury College of Education           

                              another show they played alone.  Interestingly, they had already played in Manchester on Feb. 27, as listed above.  The Rolling Stones were playing at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall on this same evening, so attendance at the Giant show was tiny, possibly under 100.



Manchester ad    Mar. 5, 1971



Mar. 6           Liverpool, England                     Cavern Club                           

                              Several band members remember this early gig at this legendary club, most famous for boosting the career of the Beatles.  However, the event was hardly a glamorous one.  While the band was setting up, a live rat joined them on stage, watching the proceedings.  When asked to describe the place, Kerry said “cramped”.  As was the custom with all bands that played at the Cavern, GG’s name was engraved into a brick on one of the building’s walls.  Opening for Giant was the band Gass.




Liverpool - Cavern Club    Mar. 6, 1971



Mar. 12          Huddersfield, England                Huddersfield Polytechnic - Great Hall

                              This was a triple bill with GG and Bronco both opening for the Roy Young Band.  Young was well-known in England as a former member of the popular Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers.  Before that, he had done some work with the Beatles in their Hamburg days.  This event was billed as a “war dance” though the meaning of that unusual name is not known.

Mar. 13          Polesworth, England                  Polesworth Memorial Hall      

                              yet another solo gig.  Entrance to this relatively small hall was only 50p and patrons also got to enjoy the music provided by a well-known deejay from nearby Birmingham.  To promote this show, local advertising played on the fact that Giant had recently participated in the “Arts Festival” in London with Colosseum, of course referring to their Feb. 18 appearance at NEL Poytechnic. 



Polesworth ad    Mar. 13, 1971



Mar. 19          Blackpool, England                    Empress Ballroom - Winter Gardens                                            

                              This event was called the "Arts Ball 71".  At this show, Colosseum and Marmalade were both the featured bands while GG and Mott the Hoople played support.  A portion of the proceeds of this concert were donated to charity.  A rumor has surfaced that Giant and Mott the Hoople may have also played together on a different occasion, with Giant in support.  However, no details at all are known, including the year this allegedly took place.



 Blackpool ad - “Arts Ball 71”    Mar. 19, 1971



Mar. 20          London, England                        Thames Polytechnic - Student Union                                           

                              Here they headlined with Maya and Third World War opening.  Giant apparently were booked heavily on the English college circuit in early 1971. 



London - Thames Polytechnic poster    Mar. 20, 1971



Mar. 22          Bristol, England                          The Old Granary                     

                              Opening for Giant was a band called Bucephalus.  According to a published book about this well-known club, Giant received 30 pounds payment for the evening’s performance.



Bristol ad    Mar. 22, 1971



Mar. 26          Southend-on-Sea, England         Kursaal Ballroom                   

                              This concert was organized by Southend Technical College but was held at the Kursaal, a venue noted for its poor acoustics. At this show, also advertised as a ragdance, Gypsy, Egg and Giant all opened for Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express.  Giant is known to have played in Southend-on-Sea three times in 1971 but this is the only confirmed show at this particular venue.  However, unconfirmed reports point to possible additional gigs at the Kursaal in late 1970 or early 1971.  According to fan recollections, they may have played one show by themselves and may have had the band Sassafras in support at another.  There’s also a report of a GG gig at Cliffs Hall, a different venue in town.  None of these reports are supported by any hard evidence.  The only other verified Southend-on-Sea appearance was a Kursaal show on May 1, 1976.



Southend-on-Sea ad    Mar. 26, 1971



???               Southampton, England               Woolston Pub                         

                              Giant played a gig in this small pub, but the exact date is not known, other than that it was in the first half of 1971.  A couple of young schoolboys convinced pub employees to allow them entrance with a camera, saying they needed to take photos for a school project.  Some of these photos were indeed displayed afterwards in the halls of their school.  It’s possible GG shared the bill with the newly formed Wild Turkey, led by ex-Jethro Tull member Glenn Cornick.  That band formed in March so, if these two groups did play together, the gig could not have been before that.






Southampton    Early 1971



Starting at the very end of March, Giant went on its first known organized tour of Europe, opening for a series of several concerts in Germany for Colosseum.  Colosseum was a band also managed at the time by Gerry Bron and with which they had played a number of gigs in England.  Giant found that they were somewhat better received in continental Europe than they were back home in Great Britain.  Originally, ads in December 1970 issues of Melody Maker and New Musical Express reported that that these two bands were also planning to play dates together in Scandinavia, Holland, Belgium, France, Italy and Switzerland.  One of these planned French dates is known to have been advertised in another publication, as well.  Colosseum did play in other European nations in late March and into April, but a March 1971 issue of New Musical Express only mentioned the two bands playing dates together in Germany.  Billboard originally noted that this German leg of the tour would travel to seven cities and end on Apr. 8, but a later issue, published after the tour had concluded, claimed only six cities were involved and the tour actually ended Apr. 9.  With all the conflicting information, it seems clear that the schedule was shifted around a bit, possibly with some dates added or subtracted.  Therefore, the dates listed below should not be viewed as definitive.

Record Mirror reported that Giant purchased a brand new Cleartone P.A. system just in time for this tour. 



Early ad for German tour with Colosseum    Mar. - Apr. 1971   



Mar. 31          Oldenburg, Germany                  Weser-Ems Halle                    

                              opened for Colosseum.  This is the correct date for this gig, although a surviving ticket stub lists Wednesday, Mar. 31, 1970 as the date.  The stub is clearly wrong, as GG had not even begun gigging in March of 1970.  Besides, March 31, 1970 was actually a Tuesday, while the same date in 1971 was indeed a Wednesday.



Oldenburg - ticket printed with wrong year    Mar. 31, 1971



Apr. 1            Hamburg, Germany                    Musikhalle                              

                              opened for Colosseum at this sold-out concert.  Although Giant was mostly unknown beforehand, the Colosseum crowd was very enthusiastic in their response to the openers and cheered for more.  Colosseum granted them an extra twenty minutes on stage, giving Giant an opening set of over an hour.  The Hamburger Abendblatt stated in its review that GG had actually stolen the show from the headliners.



Hamburg ad    Apr. 1, 1971



Apr. 2            Hannover, Germany                   Mulltonne                               

                              opened for Colosseum with one account giving an attendance estimate of 650.  The venue for this date has caused a bit of confusion.  However, it is now fairly certain that the two bands appeared at this new club in Hannover.  Very compelling accounts from three separate audience members exist.  One of these fans recalls it was a very cold night and remembers the club’s distinctive wooden bar that extended across the front of the stage, presumably to protect the performers from falling off, and he remembers Derek holding this bar and lifting it up during the show.  He also took some photographs of the headliner, while a friend with him actually recorded the show, although the whereabouts of that tape are now unknown.  Another fan at the show wrote a review for a German underground music magazine called Flash, in which he listed the exact date.  The earlier confusion arose from an ad in the German Sounds magazine listing this April 2 gig as planned for Munsterlandhalle in Munster.

Apr. 5            Munich, Germany                       Circus Krone Building            

                              opened for Colosseum.  This building, circular in shape like a circus tent, housed the famous European Krone Circus during the winter months, but hosted other acts the rest of the year.  The place was packed on this night with about 3,000 listeners and, although Giant were relatively unknown at the time, they were warmly received.  On the other hand, one reviewer who witnessed this show was quite disparaging towards Giant, calling them “loud, bad and not substantial”.  A tape of this show is rumored to have existed at one time, but is now presumed lost.






Munich    Apr. 5, 1971



Apr. 6            Nurnberg, Germany                    Meistersingerhalle                  

                              opened for Colosseum

Apr. 7            Dusseldorf, Germany                 Philipshalle                            

                              opened for Colosseum to a half full hall, or approximately 4,500 people. The Muzik Express gave Giant a favorable review but said the audience seemed indifferent to them, giving only tepid applause until the end.  A tape of Giant’s set exists, the only known recording to include the original Martin Smith drum solo during Nothing At All.  During The Queen, the band plays a snippet of the West German National Anthem.  This gimmick of giving a nod to whichever European country they were in at the time by including a bit of the local National Anthem, became a regular occurrence at Giant’s early shows.




Dusseldorf - ticket and Muzik Express headline    Apr. 7, 1971



Apr. 8            Offenbach, Germany                  Stadthalle                               

                              the last confirmed date of the tour opening for Colosseum, although an additional concert on Apr. 9, as noted in the above-mentioned issue of Billboard, cannot be ruled out.  The venue for this gig may at one point have been intended to be Kongresshalle in nearby Frankfurt, but it was changed.  An existing poster and a review in the June 1971 issue of the German Sounds magazine both clearly identify it as Offenbach, which is just outside of Frankfurt.


Offenbach poster    Apr. 8, 1971



Apr. 16          West Bromwich, England           Adelphi Ballroom

                              Giant participated in a triple bill at this venue outside of Birmingham, sharing the stage with Skin Alley and Stackridge.  It was advertised as an “All-Nighter” since the gig didn’t begin until 11:30 P.M. and ran until dawn the next morning.  Additional entertainment was provided by a well-known area deejay named Erskine.



West Bromwich ad    Apr. 16, 1971



Apr. 17          Basingstoke, England                Haymarket Theatre                 

                              Renaissance headlined, sharing the evening with Giant, Journey, Llyn Tawton and a dance group known as the Sinners.  The Journey listed here was an obscure English act, not the well-known American rock band of the same name who formed in 1973.



Basingstoke ad    Apr. 17, 1971



Apr. 18          Burslem, England                       George Hotel

Apr. 30          Paris, France                              Faculté d'Assas                      

                              UNCONFIRMED.  This date opening for Colosseum was scheduled to be the band’s very first appearance in France and was advertised in the April 1971 issue of Rock and Folk magazine.  However, confirmation that it took place has not yet been found.

May 7            Haverfordwest, Wales                Market Hall                             

                              UNCONFIRMED.  GG supposedly shared the stage with Gnidrolog

May 8            London, England                        Twickenham College - Student Union                                          

                              At this college show, they opened for Stone the Crows.



London - Twickenham College ad    May 8, 1971



May 9            Redcar, England                         Redcar Jazz Club - Coatham Hotel

                              The opening band was named Arc.

May 14          Nottingham, England                  Trent Polytechnic - Student Union



Nottingham ad    May 14, 1971



May 21          Hull, England                              Brick House

                              This small club had just opened a month earlier in an old church building.  It did not last long and was closed by Christmas.



Hull ad    May 21, 1971



May 28          Fareham, England                      Fareham Technical College    

                              Daddy Longlegs, an American band living in Great Britain at the time, headlined this gig with GG and Jigsaw in support.



Fareham ticket    May 28, 1971



May 30          Southend-on-Sea, England         Palace Theatre                       

                              This was at least the third time Giant played Southend-on-Sea in 1971, this time opening for Lindisfarne.  One fan in attendance remembers enjoying the show but recalls it as one of the loudest concerts he’d ever been to, his ears ringing for several days afterwards.  Although Melody Maker advertised this date, the possibility had at one time been raised that the gig may have actually been on May 29.  It has since been confirmed that the show did indeed take place on May 30, as advertised, as this venue only held concerts on Sundays.  May 29, 1971 was a Saturday.



Southend-on-Sea ad    May 30, 1971



            During the month of June, Gentle Giant participated in many, but not all, of the stops on the "Vertigo Showcase" tour.  The label organized this tour of English cities to promote some of the acts on its roster. 



June 4          London, England                        City University                        

                              This was a part of the "Vertigo Showcase" tour.  Others on the bill this night were the Graham Bond Magick, Warhorse, Catapilla and Jimmy Campbell.  Giant's future drummer, John Weathers, was playing with Graham Bond's Magick at this time and he reports that this is the gig at which he first saw Giant perform.  Giant played a room upstairs while Graham Bond played downstairs.  The members of Giant came downstairs at one point and watched a bit of Bond’s set and, in turn, John went up to watch a bit of theirs.  The Shulman brothers actually knew John from back in their Simon Dupree days.  At that time, Simon Dupree and one of John's earlier dance bands had often shared a bill in Wales, plus Ray and John had again crossed paths later on in Portsmouth while John was in the band Eyes Of Blue.




London City University “Vertigo Showcase” gig    June 4, 1971



            A tour history in a published Groundhogs source has that band on tour in the UK from June 5 through July 24, while stating that Gentle Giant opened at most of the dates.  However, this cannot be totally accurate, as only two confirmed concerts involving both bands have so far been identified in this time frame, the Southampton and Plymouth shows shown below.  There is also quite a bit of conflicting information in other sources showing the two bands in different cities on the same night, or advertising different bands opening at some of the Groundhogs gigs.  Still, it is very reasonable to assume Giant did indeed provide support for at least some of the remaining Groundhogs shows in June or July.  More information is needed.




Ad for Southampton and Plymouth gigs with the Groundhogs    June 1971



June 11         Newport, Wales                          St. Woolos Cathedral Hall

                              UNCONFIRMED.  This is an interesting date that would benefit from further research.  A fan clearly recalls going to this show to see Giant, only to be surprised when Van der Graaf Generator played instead.  The story at the time was that the hall had been double booked with both bands showing up.  Allegedly, they flipped a coin to see who would go on and VdGG won, but Gary feels this “coin flip” story is unlikely.  VdGG’s participation on this evening has been confirmed, but Gary does remember Giant also playing a gig in Newport in the early years.  It’s possible both bands performed here but, unfortunately, what exactly happened remains unclear.

June 17         Great Yarmouth, England           Tower Ballroom                      

                              another "Vertigo Showcase" show.  Giant, the Graham Bond Magick and Jimmy Campbell again appeared.  May Blitz was originally announced as an additional act on the bill, but later ads listed the addition of Warhorse instead.



Additional “Vertigo Showcase” tour dates    June 1971



June 18         Southampton, England               Guildhall                                 

                              Another "Vertigo Showcase" gig was scheduled for this evening at the Melody Rooms in Norwich, England with Giant, the Graham Bond Magick, Jimmy Cambell and May Blitz, but Giant backed out.  Instead, they played in Southampton, opening for the Groundhogs.  A few photos were taken of both bands by the same local schoolboys who had taken photos at Southampton’s Woolston Pub gig earlier in the year.






Southampton    June 18, 1971



June 19         Plymouth, England                     Guildhall                                 

                              Again, they opened for the Groundhogs.  The Guidhall was a majestic looking building with a high ceiling, wood paneling and stained-glass windows along the sides.  Crimson curtains hung behind the stage.  At the start of the show, Derek commented on the imposing nature of the hall and wondered aloud if the band could live up to their surroundings.  They then launched into their opening tune, believed to be Giant.

June 22         Oxford, England                         Town Hall                               

                              Part of the "Vertigo Showcase" tour, this night they shared the bill with the Graham Bond Magick, Warhorse and Jimmy Campbell.

June 24         Cambridge, England                   Dorothy Ballroom                   

                              Once more, they shared the bill with the Graham Bond Magick, Warhorse and Jimmy Campbell on this date of the "Vertigo Showcase" tour.



Cambridge ad    June 24, 1971



June ?          The July 3, 1971 issue of Melody Maker printed an apology from the band Black Widow for having recently missed three UK concert dates due to illness in the band.  They also thanked Gentle Giant for taking their place at the three gigs.  At the time, both bands used Chrysalis Agency for concert booking.  Although the three cities involved are listed in the apology notice, only one exact date and venue have been confirmed so far.



Melody Maker notice - subbing for Black Widow    June 1971



June 25         Southall, England                       Farx Club

                              This was one of the three gigs at which GG substituted for Black Widow, as described above.

June ?          St. Albans, England

                              GG substituted for Black Widow.

June ?          Llanelli, Wales

                              GG substituted for Black Widow.

July 2            Eastbourn, England                    Winter Gardens                      

                              The only thing known about this show so far is that the lights were handled by an outfit called Cerebrum Lights.

July 3            Widnes, England                        Queen's Hall                           

                              Widnes is a small town in the north of England where very few top entertainers ever performed prior to this gig.  An obvious exception was the Beatles, who played this very venue in 1963.  A grassroots group led by a local young music fan, in an attempt to bring more culture to the area, organized this July 3 event.  Originally, they wanted Pink Floyd as headliners but they could not afford the required fee of 800 pounds.  They were able to book Giant for 65 pounds.  A band representative was quoted in the local newspaper as saying GG agreed to a much lower fee than usual because they “appreciated the situation in Widnes”.  Queen’s Hall was the biggest venue in town, seating around 800.  Over 400 tickets were sold for this show, which may not seem like many, but the organizers were very pleased.  Opening the show was a London band called Alcestis, followed by a local folk duo named Schunge, then two more local bands, Oblet playing third and Heavy Light fourth.  By the time Giant took the stage, all in the audience were reportedly having a wonderful time and they were quite disappointed when the band only did one encore.  Apparently, Isn’t It Quiet and Cold? was included in Giant’s set, although the review in a local newspaper mistakenly listed the song as being titled Isn’t It Nice?  It’s interesting to note that, up to this point in Giant’s career, almost all of their British gigs were held in the southern portions of England, this being one of the few times they ventured up north.  To help whip up support for this gig, one member of the organizing team took to the streets on his bicycle wearing a sign advertising the event.  Another friend named Paul Lewis took photos of this unusual, homespun form of promotion.




Widnes    July 3, 1971



July 4            Dunfermline, Scotland                Kinema Ballroom                   

                              Playing support was the Change, one of the venue’s resident bands of 1971.  One local paper mistakenly advertised the band as “Gentle Gent”.

July 5            Skewen, Wales                           Skewen RFC

                              This gig was held at the local rugby football club in Skewen, just outside of Neath.


July 16          ACQUIRING THE TASTE was released in England.


July 16          Dudley, England                         J.B.s Social Club

                              CANCELED.   Giant was booked and advertised to play at this club outside of Birmingham, but ended up being replaced by Gary Wright.

July 17          Boston, England                         Gliderdrome - Starlight Room

                              Here, the band opened for Wild Turkey.  Also on hand was local deejay Ricky Tee.  In a couple local newspaper ads, Giant yet again was described as “ex-Simon Dupree”, long after such a description should have been necessary.



Boston, UK ad    July 17, 1971



July 21          Bathampton, England                 The Keel Club

                              This club staged rock concerts every Wednesday at the time and July 21 was Giant’s turn.



Starting in late July, the band found themselves back in Europe doing concerts and promotional appearances.  The original itinerary had them in Europe from July 26 through Aug. 2, but some evidence indicates they may have ended up staying longer than just one week.  There were also possible Scandinavian promotional dates in August, but nothing is known about any of these.  According to a notice in New Musical Express, this visit was to include several radio and television appearances in Belgium, France, Holland, Germany and Australia.  The group definitely did not go to Australia and that continent’s mention was most likely a typo, the ad probably meaning to list Austria.  Radio broadcasts of some sort, although unconfirmed, were certainly a possibility but, more than likely, there were no television appearances.

Another report in New Musical Express stated that Giant was set to record incidental music beginning in London in late July for a movie by Italian filmmaker Dario Argento.  The film may have been Four Flies in Grey Velvet and recording is said to have begun on July 27.  However, this conflicts with their scheduled time in Europe.  No GG music ever appeared in any Argento movie and it's relatively certain that no recording session ever took place for that purpose.




New Musical Express notice about alleged movie score    July, 1971



July ?           Novara, Italy                                                                              

                              UNCONFIRMED.  A partial tape exists of a show purportedly held in Novara in July 1971.  However, this tape may very well be mislabeled.  Most reports in the 1970’s Italian music press refer to GG’s shows in February of 1972 as being their first appearances in Italy.  On the other hand, an online biography of the Italian band Gli Alluminogeni states that they opened for Giant on an Italian tour sometime in 1971.  The use of the term “tour” might be a bit of an exaggeration, but a few stray gigs here and there cannot be discounted.  Unfortunately, no reliable evidence of any such gigs has yet been found.



            The July 24, 1971 issue of the American music trade magazine Billboard carried a news item about an attempt by Chrysalis Agency, who were handling booking for Giant at the time, to create a British equivalent of the college coffeehouse circuit, then in vogue in America.  Chrysalis hoped to use this approach to give some of the newer bands they represented better access to British universities.  Included in their offerings was a package deal that included Gentle Giant, Black Widow and Freedom, all for a negotiable price of, when converted into American currency, between 420 and 600 dollars.  However, no college performances where these three bands shared the same bill are known to have taken place.  Additionally, Giant had already enjoyed fairly good exposure on UK campuses, even prior to this new initiative.



July ?           ACQUIRING THE TASTE was the band’s first album released in America, probably in late July.  There has been great confusion concerning this, with many believing this album did not see a US release until at least 1972, if not later.  However, it was indeed released in the United States in 1971 by Mercury Records, an American label who had distribution deals with Philips.  The confusion probably stems from the fact that the US release still had the famous English “Vertigo swirl” imprinted on the record’s label.  The exact date of US release is still not known with absolute certainty, but it was first noted in the July 10 issues of both Billboard and Cash Box as having a planned release later that month.  Sure enough, by Billboard’s Aug. 7 issue, it was being described as a “new release”.  This was apparently a fairly limited release with a more widespread US release not coming until probably December of 1974.



Billboard article about the US release of ACQUIRING THE TASTE    July 1971



Manager Gerry Bron was not sold on the direction Giant took on their second album so, somewhere around this time, he decided to part ways with the band.  The exact date is not known but it was a friendly enough split and Bron helped Giant sign with Worldwide Artistes Management in his place.  WWA, whose biggest client was Black Sabbath, was run by the father and son team of Patrick Meehan Sr. and Jr.  For their recordings, however, the band remained with Vertigo.



???               Bournemouth, England                                                             

                              A spectator remembers a gig here sometime in 1971, but exactly when it took place is unknown.

Aug. 21         London, England                        The Temple                            

                              second on the bill, preceded by Flying Hatband and followed by Black Widow 



London - Temple ad    Aug. 21, 1971



Aug. 22         Stoke-on-Trent, England            Trentham Gardens                 

                              The band played in support of Marc Bolan’s T Rex who, at the time, were one of the hottest properties in British music.  As expected, the crowd of 2,500 fans was extremely excited and enthusiastic about seeing their glam rock heroes.  Still, Phil and Derek have both remarked that they were impressed with how well behaved and accepting the mostly young audience was while Giant was on stage.  One person in attendance even claims Giant was enthusiastically called out for more than one encore.  Interestingly, about a year later, Derek referred back to this show in an interview and claimed GG “went down a storm” while T Rex did not do as well.  A couple songs from T. Rex’s set have been released on a live compilation album where they bear the date of Aug. 26.  However, a review published in the next day’s Evening Sentinel confirms the Aug. 22 date.




Stoke-on-Trent ad and ticket - T. Rex gig    Aug. 22, 1971



Aug. 27         Birmingham, England                 Kinetic Circus

                              GG opened for Black Widow.



Birmingham ad    Aug. 27, 1971



Aug. 28         Clacton-on-Sea, England                                                           

                              GIANT DID NOT PLAY.  GG was originally booked to appear at the "Weeley Festival" along with many other groups and their name appeared in the festival’s early advertisements.  However, they canceled for some reason and were removed from later ads.  This major rock music festival was held on a 200 acre wooded site five miles from the sea.  Headlined by T Rex and the Faces, it ran from the evening of Aug. 27 through to Aug. 29, with Giant originally scheduled for Aug. 28.




Clacton-on-Sea - “Weeley Festival” - original ad with GG and revised ad    Aug. 28, 1971



          Although, as stated above, most of Giant’s concerts were in England in 1971, the band took a short European trip around this time.  In the press, the timeframe listed for this tour was late August through September 8.  Included were the two festival dates listed below, but what other countries may have been visited is not known.



Sep. 4           Speyer, Germany                        Rheinhalbinsel                       

                              The band’s European gigs included this appearance at a two-day festival, appropriately nicknamed the “2-Tage Festival” on Sept. 4 and 5.  Interestingly, it appears that this event, which showcased British bands for a European audience, ran in both Speyer, Germany and Vienna, Austria at the same time and featured the same bands.  The Speyer portion of the festival was called the "British Rock Meeting" while the Vienna portion was called the “Sensational British Superstar Festival”.  Half the bands played in Speyer on Sept. 4 while the other half of the bands played in Vienna on the same date.  Then on Sept. 5, all the bands simply switched locations.  For instance, it is known that Black Sabbath played in Speyer on Sept. 4 and again in Vienna on Sept. 5, while Deep Purple, a late substitute for Rod Stewart and the Faces, followed the opposite schedule, both bands presumably headlining in their respective cities.  Like Sabbath, Giant performed in Speyer on Sept. 4 and Vienna on Sept. 5.  Many other British acts also participated, such as Fleetwood Mac and Family.  The two Speyer shows were reported to have attracted between 25,000 and 40,000 fans.  Actually, the Speyer portion of the festival was originally scheduled to be held at the Amphietheatre Thingstatte in Heidelberg, Germany before being moved to Speyer.  Early posters and tickets were, in fact, labeled Heidelberg.  It’s not known if there how well-behaved the large crowd was, but the promoters did make the questionable decision to use a “student security guard” to prevent disturbances.




Speyer “2-Tage Festival” - ticket with original city and ad with corrected city    Sep. 4, 1971   



Sep. 5           Vienna, Austria                           Stadthalle                               

                              Here, Giant played at the ”Sensational British Superstar Festival” which was the second night of the “2-Tage Festival” described in the above listing.  As on the previous night, Black Sabbath headlined and a number of other British bands participated.  After this day’s events, three of the day’s performers, Gentle Giant, the Groundhogs and Beggars Opera, were sharing a plane out of Vienna.  Twice, the plane tried to take off and twice it barely made it off the ground in what could have been a tragic occurrence.  Discussing this in a 1972 interview in Sounds, Tony McPhee of the Groundhogs revealed that the fear of flying brought on by this mishap contributed to that band’s decision to cancel an upcoming American tour.  A tape exists of GG’s performance here.



Vienna - “2-Tage Festival” poster    Sep. 5, 1971



Sep. 10         Buxton, England                         Pavillion Gardens                   

                              On this particularly frigid night, the band was part of the "Sound 71 Blues and Progressive Festival", an event described as an "All-Night Music Festival".  The headliners were the Groundhogs and the Edgar Broughton Band, while the opening act was a blues-rock group called Brewers Droop.  Other bands appearing included East of Eden, Paladin and Juicy Lucy.  One eyewitness was particularly impressed with the band’s Park amplifiers in distinctive green cabinets, which were fairly new at the time.  The festival was scheduled to run from 8:30 P.M. until 7:00 A.M. the next day, with Giant reportedly taking the stage at around 4:00 A.M.  The BBC’s Pete Drummond provided deejay services for the event.  The festival took place in two separate halls inside the Pavillion Gardens.  A number of attendees have commented on the excessively crowded conditions, to the point of being dangerous.  According to the Nottingham Evening Post, about 5,000 fans were crammed in, at which time the doors were closed, leaving a couple hundred still outside, including some ticket holders.  A number of Hells’ Angels bikers then tried to break their way in, resulting in some violent skirmishing with security personnel.  Overall, there were seven arrests.  Even so, one area policeman commented that there was surprisingly little trouble, considering the size of the crowd.  It’s believed GG started their set with the song Giant.



Buxton ad    Sep. 10, 1971



Sep. 11         London, England                        Queen Elizabeth Hall              

                              Here, the group got to play a more prestigious venue.  They played two shows here on this day, opening for the Groundhogs.



London - Queen Elizabeth Hall ad    Sep. 11, 1971



Sep. 12         Croydon, England                      Fox at Greyhound                   

                              Curved Air was originally scheduled to play here, but they canceled.  The Edgar Broughton Band, who arrived late, was brought in as a replacement with GG as support.



Croydon flyer - with handwritten corrections    Sep. 12, 1971



Sep. 27         Chester, England                        Quaintways                            

                              This concert was part of a month-long event hosted at this venue.  It was called the “September Wall City Festival” and, on this particular night, Giant opened for the band If.  Quantways was a small club was located above a restaurant/delicatessen and attendance on this evening has been estimated at between 100 and 150.  A flyer from this festival with Martin Smith’s autograph exists, making this the last confirmed gig known to include Martin as the drummer.  He left shortly after, as explained below.




Chester flyers - “September Wall City Festival”    Sep. 27, 1971



Giant endured a big change in early October of 1971.  Drummer Martin Smith left, mainly due to personal differences between him and Phil, but also because of musical differences and because he was interested in pursuing a career as an antique dealer.  It’s also believed that after he left, he continued playing in a Latin jazz combo for a while.  He was replaced on the drum stool by 18-year-old Malcolm Mortimore, who went through a two-step audition process.  A fairly large number of candidates were heard over two days in London, Malcolm being the final drummer to appear on the second day.  Next, he and just a few others were called to Portsmouth for a lengthier second audition.  Then, after being informed he had been selected, he moved to Portsmouth and had about a week to learn the band's live set before hitting the stage with them.  The exact date of Martin’s final gig is not known, but it had to be Sept. 27, as listed above, or immediately after.  Likewise, Malcolm’s very first gig with the band has not yet been determined, although the best evidence so far points to the second week of October.  Whenever and wherever his first gig was, he recalls Phil complimenting him on doing a nice job while bemoaning the fact that the rest of the guys had an off night.  Malcolm has also confirmed that upon joining the band, he signed with WWA, confirming that it happened after the departure of Gerry Bron, which was a bit earlier in the year.

In the latter part of 1971, Giant continued to gig fairly steadily in the UK, mostly at clubs and colleges.  The time when Malcolm joined may also be the time when Isn't It Quiet and Cold? and all the non-album songs disappeared from the set.





Funny Ways


Nothing at All - This song now featured Malcolm’s drum solo, as it had previously included Martin’s.  Kerry and Ray again joined in.

Plain Truth     

The Queen

Why Not? - This number may have become less frequent as time went on.         


            Even though the band now had two albums worth of material to choose from, in a live setting they still concentrated mostly on songs from their first album.  It is unlikely any other material from their second album, other than Plain Truth, ever became a regular part of the group’s setlists at this time, although Pantagruel’s Nativity was known to have been played perhaps a couple of times and at least one other song, Wreck, was rehearsed but never performed.  In fact, it seems that the other songs from ACQUIRING THE TASTE remained unperformed for the remainder of the band's career.



Oct. 7            Manchester, England                  Rafters

                              GIANT DID NOT PLAY.  Giant was booked to perform at this club along with the band Emily.  Early advertising reflected this but, beginning the day before the show, the Manchester Evening News published ads showing a revised lineup.  Emily was still set to appear but Giant had been replaced by Assagai.  It’s possible that this show was canceled while the band was still settling matters with Malcolm as their new drummer, but that is not confirmed.




Manchester ads - GG replaced on the bill    Oct. 7, 1971



Oct. 8            Romford, England                      Ablemarle Youth Club            

                              UNCONFIRMED.  There is no hard evidence that this gig was canceled but if the band was still rehearsing with their new drummer, it may have been, like happened the previous night.  They possibly had been booked to play without a support act.



Romford ad    Oct. 8, 1971



Oct. 9            Isleworth, England                     Borough Road College           

                              This concert did go ahead as scheduled.  Malcolm does recall a very early college gig in the south of England with Supertramp, when he shared an enjoyable conversation with that band’s drummer.  There were three bands on the bill originally, with the order more than likely intended to be Supertramp, Gentle Giant and headliners Black Widow.  However, it seems that Black Widow canceled, due to an illness in their ranks.  The other two bands carried on, Giant now cast as the surprise headliners.  In August, New Musical Express announced that GG was attempting to put together a series of British college and university gigs for the months of October and November.  This Islewoth concert was one of the earliest confirmed dates to come from that initiative.  One person in the audience only remembers that GG’s music was complex, there were many instrument changes, and it was “very dark” in the venue.



Isleworth ad    Oct. 9, 1971



Oct. 10          Gravesend, England                   New Lord's Club - Civic Centre                                                    

                              At this show, they played in support of the Mick Abrahams Band.  Malcolm does recall playing this very early gig in Gravesend.



Gravesend ad    Oct. 10, 1971



            An August issue of New Musical Express included an article about Giant planning to appear on two 45-minute European television programs in October.  In both shows, they were to co-star with the band Freedom, with whom they shared management.  They were to fly to Amsterdam, Holland on October 14 to participate in the first program, while the second was supposed to be a live broadcast in Brussels, Belgium on October 16.  The article went on to state that their manager was in the process of negotiating for a similar TV appearance in Sweden in mid-November.  However, as was the case with the intended TV appearances at the end of July, it seems very likely that none of these plans came to fruition.  The Brussels show, in particular, can be definitely discounted since the band played in Southampton on that night, as listed below.  It’s generally believed GG did not appear on television at all until 1972.



Oct. 15          Swansea, Wales                         Laughor Welfare Hall

                              UNCONFIRMED.  This was advertised as a triple bill with Wild Turkey, Writing on the Wall and Gentle Giant.  However, Malcolm remembers an early Welsh gig which the band decided not to play after driving to the Hall.  He says the Shulmans decided it would be a “waste of time”, so they turned around and went home. Although it’s possible this may not be the gig in question, it probably is, as Malcolm does recall Wild Turkey being on the same bill.

Oct. 16          Southampton, England               Southampton University        

                              Giant shared the bill with Jude, Robin Trower’s post-Procol Harum band.  There were indications that GG opened the show, but an extant ticket stub proves they actually headlined.  Jude was a short-lived outfit that Trower had just put together with, among others, Clive Bunker, formerly of Jethro Tull.  In fact, at this gig, the lineup had not even settled on a final name yet, the ticket simply referring to them as the Trower/Bunker Band.  Gary Green remembers doing the rarely performed song Pantagruel's Nativity once during a show in Southampton after the second album was released.  It may have been this show, but it may have been a different show in Southampton, a city where they played a number of times in their early years.   



Southampton ticket    Oct. 16, 1971



Oct. 18          A couple of rumors have swirled around the date of Oct. 18, but nothing very credible.  There was some evidence that the band played again at Southampton University but that seems extremely unlikely since they had just played there two days earlier.  It had even been suggested at one time that they had been booked to play at the Southampton Guildhall in what would’ve definitely been a prestige gig as opening act to the Who.  This rumor originated when a ticket from the gig surfaced which seemed to have the name Gentle Giant printed on it as support and then crossed out, implying they canceled.  The ticket is unfortunately difficult to read and Gary has absolutely no memory of ever being on a bill with the Who.  In the end, Quiver opened the Who concert instead, while nothing is known for certain about a Giant concert on Oct. 18.


Oct. 21          Chatham, England                      Central Hall

                              shared a bill with Chicken Shack.  In the early 1970’s, a well-known concert promoter and deejay in southeast England named Mick Clark, using the professional name of Madhatter, would organize musical events in various venues around the area.  On these occasions, the venue would use the name Madhatter Club.  Sometimes, he would provide the deejay services himself, and other times, he would book live bands.  This gig in Central Hall was one of those live events.  Sadly, Ray had his Hagstrom guitar stolen at this concert.




Chatham    Oct. 21, 1971



Oct. 23          London, England                        London School of Economics            

                              opened for the Groundhogs with Australian band Hot Cottage also on the bill.  Malcolm’s presence can be definitively confirmed for this concert.  He already knew his wife Lynn by that point and she was in the audience.




London School of Economics ad and ticket    Oct. 23, 1971



Oct. 30          Weston-super-Mare, England     Winter Gardens                      

                              opened for Black Widow



Weston-super-Mare ad    Oct. 30, 1971



            Another trip onto the European continent was planned for late October through mid-November, but it is unclear whether this tour ever took place, as no hard evidence has been found.  The itinerary called for the band to be in Denmark and Sweden from Oct. 27 to Oct. 31.  However, the Weston-super-Mare gig listed above conflicts with that.  The band was slated to be in Scandinavia until Nov. 3, in Madrid, Spain on Nov. 7, and in France from Nov. 9 to Nov. 11.  A notice in an August Dutch newspaper indicated that GG also intended to visit the Netherlands during November but, again, no confirmation has been found.



Nov, 5           London, England                        Harrow Technical College      

                              shared the bill with Callum Bryce

Nov. 6           Bromsgrove, England                 Shenstone College                 

                              A few months earlier, advertisements appeared showing GG planned to play at the University of Birmingham on this date.  However, the ads soon disappeared and it turned out they played at Shenstone College instead, where they played second on a bill after Roger Ruskin Spear and before headliners Renaissance.  As it happens, this college was only ten miles away from the University of Birmingham.  Although no musician can recall every concert he ever played, this is another early GG gig that Malcolm does recall.



Bromsgrove - handwritten ticket    Nov. 6, 1971



Nov. 7           Madrid, Spain                                                                            

                              UNCONFIRMED.  This concert, the only known GG concert ever planned for Spain, was scheduled at one time, but it is unknown if it ever occurred.

Nov. 13         Warrington, England                  Padgate College

Nov. 18         Southall, England                       Underworld                            

                              a show they played alone    



Southall ad    Nov. 18, 1971



Nov. ?           An article in Melody Maker indicated that Giant spent a few more days performing somewhere in Germany sometime in late November, possibly beginning on Nov. 20, but few details are known about these concerts.  However, it is known that the band was temporarily stranded in a snowstorm in Belgium on the way to Germany.  After finally arriving in Germany, Malcolm recalls playing one or two club dates, including the Frankfurt gig listed below and possibly one in Berlin.  The snowstorm also contributed to their being late arriving back into England afterwards.


Nov. 23         Frankfurt, Germany                    Zoom Club

                              A couple fans recall attending this show but confirmation of the date comes from a poster in the possession of the Frankfurt City Archives.

Nov. 24         London, England                        Marquee Club                         

                              CANCELED.  This was the last time Giant was booked to perform at the Marquee and would have been the only time with Malcolm.  It was scheduled as one in a series of Wednesday night free concerts held at the venue.  However, the show was canceled, due to the snowstorm that caused havoc on their swing into Germany.  They had been scheduled to appear with the band Freedom.  Shortly afterward, the band took out an ad in Melody Maker to apologize for their failure to appear.





London - canceled Marquee Club show    Nov. 24, 1971



Nov. 26         Liverpool, England                     Highfield Comprehensive School                                                 

                              The band opened for Black Widow and was reportedly very well received.  The place was packed, as this was the first rock concert ever presented at this particular school.  Of course, the fact that Black Widow was known to often hold a mock sacrifice of a nude girl in their set could also have contributed to the large number of hormonal youths in the audience.  However, since it was mostly a student population in the hall, that portion of the show was left out on this evening.  Both bands shared the same management, so often played together, Giant always in the support slot.  One member of Black Widow has stated that Giant were “full of themselves” and put out by having to open for them.  He claims they “did not speak to us and were not at all friendly”.

Dec. 2           Leek, England                             Samantha’s Club




Leek ads    Dec. 2, 1971



Dec. 3           Braintree, England                     Two J's Club                           

                              This club was located in the Horn Hotel.  They shared the bill with Copperfield.  In August and September, it had been advertised in the Netherlands that GG would open for Black Sabbath at De Doelen in Rotterdam on this date.  However, that did not happen.  It’s believed a Dutch band called Earth and Fire took over Sabbath’s support slot and GG played in Braintree.



Braintree ad    Dec. 3, 1971



Dec. 4           Amsterdam, Netherlands            Concertgebouw                      

                              GIANT DID NOT PLAY.  As had happened on the previous night, GG had originally been advertised as opening for Black Sabbath at another Dutch gig.  They were replaced on Sabbath’s bill by Earth and Fire.



Notice for canceled Dutch gigs with Black Sabbath    Dec. 1971



Dec. 8           Coventry, England                      Whitley Abbey School            

                              shared the evening with a local up-and-coming band called Dando Shaft.  Giant actually played this school twice in their early days.  The first was at a school dance where they were well-received, and this resulted in the band being invited back for a second appearance.   Chances are this Dec. 8 gig, which was advertised in Melody Maker, was the second one.  The date of the other gig is not known and the exact timeline of Giant at Whitley Abbey School is still a matter of some conjecture.



Press notice for Coventry show    Dec. 8, 1971



Dec. 12         They recorded their third BBC studio session, the only one done with Malcolm, at London's Transcription Service Studio T1.  They recorded Alucard, Plain Truth, Giant and Funny Ways.  The first three were broadcast on Jan. 7, 1972, while Funny Ways was intended to be included in a re-broadcast on Feb. 4, 1972.   As it turns out, it was not.  This entire session is missing.


Dec. 17         Dartford, England                       Northwest Kent College of Technology                                         

                              This was billed as a "Giant Christmas Party".  They shared the stage with Roger Ruskin Spear and his Giant Kinetic Wardrobe, an interestingly named act put together by the ex-Bonzo Dog Band member.  Interestingly, a stripper was also on the bill.



Dartford ad    Dec. 17, 1971



Dec. ?           Narberth, Wales                          Queen’s Hall                           

                              UNCONFIRMED.  A couple sources have pointed to a Giant gig at this Narbeth venue, one placing it shortly before Christmas.  One spectator at this show remembers Malcolm definitely being on the drums, but he also remembers it as being in 1972.  However, since Malcolm played very few gigs in the UK in 1972, it was more likely late 1971.  This spectator also remembers dancing on stage during Ray's Plain Truth violin solo.



            Along with the other early shows that Malcolm remembers playing with Giant, he also recalls sharing a bill with Vinegar Joe.  When or where this took place is not known and Malcolm recalls no further details.



Dec. ?           Giant's third album, THREE FRIENDS, was recorded in London, mostly at Advision Studios, but also at Command Studios.  It was the only one to feature Malcolm on drums.  During the recording of this album, the band’s Ford Zodiac, with Ray at the wheel, got in a bad traffic accident.  Near Guildford, on the way to London, the car crashed through a hedge and stopped just a few feet before falling down a steep incline.  Fortunately, there were no real injuries and the band was able to continue on.


Go on to   Part Two


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