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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
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 originally hoped to simply call the band 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 name Gentle Giant and the band agreed. This new group clearly 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.
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 Vertigo record label. 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, Freedom's Child and an early version of Nothing at All. There has been some indication that Weekend Cowboy and Freedom's Child were actually 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.
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
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 ever played the bass guitar.
Plain Truth - This was released 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 quadraphonic 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.
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
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. More importantly, Simon Dupree and the Big Sound had been hometown heroes and it may have been 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”. Unfortunately, although the Portsmouth Evening News gave an encouraging review, the newspaper also described the turnout 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
Exeter ad - canceled concert June 6, 1970
June 20 Hamburg, Germany Klein
appeared 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
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 is evidence 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, no information exists as to what songs were taped and there is no indication the program ever aired.
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 played in support of Andy Ferris
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. A fan does recall seeing the band play a Marquee gig at the very end of 1970, after the release of the first album, but the fan may be mistaken, as there is no evidence to support such a claim. Unlike many of their contemporaries in the young progressive rock genre, Giant never secured a regular weekly residency at the Marquee. 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
Aug. 17 The BBC session from July 21 was broadcast on Sounds of the Seventies, hosted by David Symmonds. The other band appearing 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.
Aug. ? Their
first full album, GENTLE GIANT, was recorded at Trident Studios in
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. However, once again, there is confusion as to which non-album songs were recorded in April and which were done in August. Whatever the case, these two songs finally saw the light of day on UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
Sep. ? Southampton, England Concorde Club An early New Musical Express article mentioned this gig, stating it was held on a Thursday. The date would have been either Sep. 10 or Sep. 17. This was one of many times GG performed in the Southampton area during their early years, the city being only about 20 miles from their home base of Portsmouth. One fan who attended many concerts in the Southampton area remembers taping Giant’s performance once in one of that city’s small clubs. No specifics are known, except the fan seems to feel it was during 1970 or 1971.
Sep. 14 London, England Marquee Club shared the bill with Czar and another band named Jenks
London ad - second Marquee Club appearance Sep. 14, 1970
Sep. 28 Ads in New Musical Express and other UK publications listed a BBC session as being broadcast on this date on Sounds of the Seventies, but no information exists to confirm there was actually a second recording session. More than likely, this was a re-broadcast of the earlier July 21 session. Also appearing on this date’s program was Spencer Davis and Peter Jameson.
Oct. 9 London,
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 - 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. 14 Exeter, England Exeter University Giant shared the stage with Quartermass, both opening for Ginger Baker's Air Force.
Nov. 27 On this date, their first album, GENTLE GIANT, was apparently released 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
Glasgow article Nov. 27, 1970
Dec. 1 The
band did their second verified BBC studio session, this time at
Dec. 2 Harlow, England Aquarius Birdcage shared the bill with Gnidrolog. Stewart Goldring of Gnidrolog remembers Gentle Giant as being "not so gentle!"
Dec. 5 London, England Bumpers The band played this gig alone. Bumpers was a brand new 600 seat club which had just opened the previous night and which was promoted in the press as having a “progressive policy”.
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 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. Although unconfirmed, an eyewitness claims the band played The House, The Street, The Room at this show. He also says that after this song, 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. Music by the band Greatest Show on Earth was 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 last 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. 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. 30 London, England Tooting Castle Czar played support.
Long-time fans of the band
remember several other
??? Eastleigh, England Technical College an unconfirmed show
??? Fareham, England Fareham Youth Center 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. Another source remembers a gig at
??? Cardiff, Wales Llandaff Technical College remembered as being from either 1970 or 1971. 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.
??? Nottingham, England Trent Polytechnic A reliable source recalls this gig, but no exact date can be located. However, Phil was still in the band, so it had to have been no later than 1972.
??? Portsmouth, England South Parade Pier recalled simply as being from the “early 1970’s”
??? Hertford, England Balls Park Teacher Training College recalled recently by a BBC presenter during an interview with Ray Shulman
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
Jan. - Apr. Their second album, ACQUIRING THE TASTE,
was recorded at A.I.R. and Advision Studios in
Jan. 5 The BBC Sounds of the Seventies program rebroadcast one of Giant’s studio sessions, probably their second session, recorded on Dec. 1, 1970.
??? Portsmouth, England Tricorn Club This is a fascinating gig recently 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.
??? Southend-on-Sea, England Kursaal Ballroom another of the band’s numerous gigs in Southend-on-Sea. There are indications this one was probably in early 1971. Giant either headlined or played alone. The Kursaal was notorious for poor acoustics.
London - Imperial College ad Jan. 16, 1971
London - Bedford College ad Jan. 22, 1971
Exeter flyer Jan. 29, 1971
Jan. 31 Southend-on-Sea, England Palace Theatre yet another gig in Southend-on-Sea. 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. 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.
Feb. 12 Winchester, England King Alfred’s College - John Stripe Theatre This gig was arranged by a lifelong friend of the Shulman family who was attending the college at the time and this friend was thanked from the stage during the band’s introduction. An existing tape of this concert, recorded by a member of the road crew, is the earliest known live Gentle Giant recording. 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. This CD 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. 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. Although the exact date has still not been 100 percent confirmed, the Feb. 6, 1971 issue of New Musical Express does include an announcement that Giant were scheduled to play at “Winchester College Theatre (February 12)”. Curiously, Derek also mentions on the CD 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.
New Musical Express notice for North Finchley and Winchester gigs Feb. 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.
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.
Feb. 27 Manchester, England Manchester University - Student Union Although posters advertising this gig opening for Colosseum do exist, no other corroboration has been found and there are questions that remain unanswered. The posters clearly state that the headlining band “will be recording live tracks for their next LP” and 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. However, it’s generally assumed that that recorded gig was held on Mar. 18. It’s possible that the Feb. 27 date was simply changed at some point to Mar. 18. Lending credibility to this theory is an existing ad showing that Sandy Denny’s folk-rock group Fotheringay was also at one point scheduled to play the University on Feb. 27, but that in itself is hard to explain as that group supposedly disbanded in late 1970. Clearly, exactly what happened at Manchester University on Feb. 27 has yet to be determined. Muddying the waters even further, the alleged Mar. 18 Colosseum date is in direct conflict with an unconfirmed report that Giant and Supertramp played Manchester University on that date. Plus, in the middle of all this, Giant was advertised as playing a different college in Manchester on Mar. 5.
Manchester poster - unconfirmed gig Feb. 27, 1971
Mar. 5 Manchester, England Didsbury College of Education another show they played alone. This show was scheduled between two unconfirmed Manchester shows on Feb. 27 and Mar. 18, as listed above and below.
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’s Cavern Club Mar. 6, 1971
Mar. 13 Polesworth, England Memorial Hall yet another solo gig. 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.
Mar. 18 Manchester, England University of Manchester This is unconfirmed, although a report has them sharing the bill with Supertramp. Conflicting information has Colosseum actually appearing at the University on this date.
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.
London - Thames Polytechnic poster Mar. 20, 1971
Mar. 22 Bristol, England The Granary Club 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.
??? 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. These same photos indicate that the band likely opened for the newly formed Wild Turkey, led by ex-Jethro Tull member Glenn Cornick. That band formed in March, so the gig could not have been before that.
Southampton Early 1971
??? Haverfordwest, Wales Market Hall a headlining gig with Gnidrolog as the opening act
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
Mar. 31 Oldenburg, Germany Weser-Ems Halle opened for Colosseum. It appears 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 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. 2 Hannover, Germany Mulltonne opened for Colosseum. This is one of the dates which has proven difficult to confirm. At this point, it is most likely that the two bands appeared at this new club in Hannover. Very compelling accounts from two 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. The second account from Multonne is from a fan who wrote a review of the show for a German underground music magazine called Flash, in which he listed the exact date. The confusion over this date of Apr. 2 arose from some contrary evidence suggesting the two bands actually played in Munster, as listed below.
Apr. ? Munster, Germany Munsterlandhalle An ad in the German Sounds magazine claimed this gig was planned for Munsterlandhalle on April 2, but the two bands probably played in Hannover instead, as stated above. The Munster date may have been canceled but it seems just as likely that it was simply rescheduled for a different night. The city of Munster, in its official archives, supposedly possesses a poster of this Munsterlandhalle gig, although it is oddly undated. If it was rescheduled, it could not have been on April 3, as Colosseum played that evening in Berlin with a few other bands but without Giant. April 4 is a possibility, but the rescheduled date could also have been placed before March 31 or after April 8, before or after the other German appearances.
Munich - opening for Colosseum 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 4500 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.
Headline from Dusseldorf Muzik Express review Apr. 7, 1971
Apr. 8 Offenbach, Germany Stadthalle the last confirmed date of the tour opening for Colosseum, although additional dates cannot be ruled out. There is some conflicting information that the venue for this gig may at one point have been intended to be Kongresshalle in nearby Frankfurt, but that seems to have been changed. A June 1971 issue of the German Sounds magazine includes a review of this concert, clearly identifying it as Offenbach, which is just outside of Frankfurt.
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. 30 Paris, France Faculté d'Assas 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 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 30 Southend-on-Sea, England Palace Theatre This was at least the fifth time Giant played Southend-on-Sea, this time opening for Lindisfarne. 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.
Ad for some of the “Vertigo Showcase” tour dates June 1971
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 Magick played downstairs. The members of Giant came downstairs at one point and watched a bit of Magick’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 Porstmouth while John was in the band Eyes Of Blue.
There is a possibility that Giant returned to Europe between June 6 and June 9 to support Colosseum in a few more shows, before returning back to England to continue the “Vertigo Showcase” tour. This is not at all certain, as Coloseum is known to have played at least one date with the German band Kraan during this time period.
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.
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 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.
June 25 England Another GG gig may have taken place somewhere in England on this night but, again, it's not known where. There was another "Vertigo Showcase" concert scheduled, but GG was not originally billed as part of it. If Giant did do a gig, they may have done it separately from that tour.
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.
Widnes July 3, 1971
July 4 Fife, Scotland Kinema Ballroom Playing support was the Change, one of the venue’s resident bands of 1971. The local press mistakenly advertised the band as “Gentle Gent”.
July 16 ACQUIRING
THE TASTE was released in
in late July, the band found themselves back in
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
New Musical Express notice about alleged movie score July, 1971
??? Frankfurt, Germany Zoom Club Two separate eyewitnesses clearly recall Giant playing the Zoom Club in either 1970 or 1971, while Martin Smith was on the drum stool, though 1970 is very unlikely. It could have been in during the band’s above mentioned time in Europe in summer 1971 but, like the Novara listing below, it could have been from some other time.
July ? Novara, Italy A partial tape exists of a show purportedly held in Novara in July 1971. However, good intentions aside, no conclusive evidence has yet been found that Giant managed to perform in Italy until 1972. On the other hand, online biographies of the Italian band Gli Alluminogeni state they supposedly opened for Giant in Italy during 1971, so dates in that country remain a possibility.
The July 24, 1971 issue of the American music trade magazine Billboard
carried a news item about an attempt by Chrysalis Agency, Giant’s management
agency 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 performances where
these three bands shared the same bill are known to have taken place. Additionally, Giant had already enjoyed
fairly good exposure on
July ? It seems that 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, parent company of the band’s British record company, Vertigo. 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
At some point in the latter part of 1971, possibly July or August, 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. Eventually, he was replaced on the drum stool by 18-year-old Malcolm Mortimore, who has claimed that about 300 candidates auditioned for the job. Malcolm had about a week to learn the band's live set before hitting the stage with them. For the remainder of the year, they all continued to gig fairly steadily in the UK, mostly at clubs and colleges. Malcolm recalls many of his earliest gigs with the band being in the north of England and particularly remembers sharing bills with Supertramp, Vinegar Joe and Wild Turkey. The time when Malcolm joined may be the time when Isn't It Quiet and Cold? and Why Not? disappeared from the set, along with all the non-album songs.
TYPICAL SETLIST (Late 1971)
Nothing at All - Malcolm says that while he was in the band, Kerry, Ray and Gary were all joining in on the percussion section of this song.
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 unknown if 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. It seems that the other songs from ACQUIRING THE TASTE remained unplayed for the remainder of the band's career.
??? Bournemouth, England A spectator remembers a gig here sometime in 1971, but exactly when it took place is unknown. Who would have been on drums is also 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 T Rex. Phil said at the time that he was impressed with how well behaved and accepting the mostly young audience was while Giant was on stage. A question has arisen concerning this show’s exact date. A couple songs from T. Rex’s set have been released on a live compilation album, but they bear the date of Aug. 26, even though two early ads for the gig place it on Aug. 22.
Stoke-on-Trent ad Aug. 22, 1971
Although, as stated above, most of Giant’s concerts were in England in 1971, Malcolm took his first short European trip with the band around this time. Included were the two festival dates listed below, but what other countries may have been visited is not known, although Malcolm does specifically remember playing in Belgium.
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 “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. A tape exists of GG’s half-hour set from this evening. Both nights of this festival were actually part of another short European tour the band did from late August through Sept. 8.
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 was the compere 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. There are also multiple reports of bikers and other unseemly types in the crowd causing lots of trouble.
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.
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.
Chester flyer - “September Wall City Festival” Sep. 27, 1971
Romford ad Oct. 8, 1971
Oct. 9 Isleworth, England Borough Road College Here they shared the stage with Black Widow and Supertramp.
Oct. 10 Gravesend, England New Lord's Club - Civic Centre At this show, they played in support of the Mick Abrahams Band. This gig with the ex-Jethro Tull guitarist, along with previously mentioned gigs with Glenn Cornick’s Wild Turkey, foreshadowed the close working relationship Giant had with Tull in 1972
Oct. 16 Southampton,
University They opened for Jude,
Robin Trower’s post-Procol Harum band. Gary Green remembers doing the rarely performed song Pantagruel's
Nativity once during a show in
Oct. 18 Southampton, England Southampton University the band’s second Southampton gig in three days. It appears that Giant was originally billed as support act in what would certainly have been a prestige gig, opening for the Who at the Southampton Guildhall on this date. However, an existing ticket stub from the Who concert has Giant’s name crossed out, sadly indicating that they did not appear. Instead, they played at Southampton University.
Oct. 23 London, England London School of Economics opened for the Groundhogs.
London School of Economics ticket Oct. 23, 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
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 Birmingham University.
Bromsgrove - handwritten ticket Nov. 6, 1971
Nov. 7 Madrid, Spain 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. ? 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 no other details are known
about these concerts. However, it is
known that they were held up from returning to
Nov. 24 London,
Club This was
the last time Giant was booked to perform at the Marquee and would have been
the only time with Malcolm. However, the
show was canceled, due to the snowstorm that stranded them in
London’s Marquee Club - ad and published apology for missing the 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. 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 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.
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.
Dec. ? Fareham, England
Dec. ? Narberth, Wales Queen’s Hall 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.
??? Sheffield, England City Hall All that’s known about this concert is that it took place sometime in the “early 70’s” and that GG opened for Supertramp.
??? Vienna, Austria Vienna Opera House Malcolm remembers one gig in Vienna during which he had to play his drum set with just his right arm. He had hurt his left arm after actually being knocked down by a car. Fortunately, he recovered quickly and was back to full strength the next night. Malcolm has listened to tapes that exist for two other shows in Vienna in which he participated, on Sep. 5, 1971 and Jan. 24, 1972, and is certain that neither is the one which he played one-handed, so the date of this one is still in question. Although he remembers the location as being the city’s famed Opera House, this cannot be verified as very few popular music performances seem to have ever been held at that traditionally classical venue.
Dec. ? Giant's third album, THREE FRIENDS,
was recorded in
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