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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 painted with a particularly elaborate, colorful design. The head of this bass drum was last seen hanging on the wall in a Hard Rock Café in Baltimore, Maryland.
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.
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.
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 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. Vertigo, Giant's new record label, sponsored this event and all the acts were British. 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. Uriah Heep and Gentle Giant, both relatively new bands, probably opened the festival as they were singled out in a press review for being too loud. Apparently, when the festival began, residents up to four kilometers away phoned to complain. Festival organizers did end up turning down the volume a bit.
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. Sadly, Ray had his Hagstrom guitar stolen while in Maidstone for this show.
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
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
??? Portsmouth, England South Parade Pier
UNCONFIRMED. recalled simply as being from the “early 1970’s”
??? 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.
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. 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 at least one return engagement to this same college on March 4, 1973, shortly after Phil Shulman had left the band.
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. The venue for this date 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 just what happened on Apr. 2 arose from some contrary evidence suggesting the two bands actually played in Munster, as listed below.
Apr. ? Munster, Germany Munsterlandhalle
UNCONFIRMED. 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 the possibility that it was rescheduled for a different night cannot be ruled out. The city of Munster, in its official archives, supposedly possesses a poster of this Munsterlandhalle gig, although it is oddly undated. If it was indeed rescheduled, there is no information as to when that would have been.
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 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 known, the venues are not. The exact dates are not known, either, although the second half of June would be the obvious timeframe. One unconfirmed rumor had floated that Giant played somewhere in England on June 25, but that may or may not be related.
Melody Maker notice - subbing for Black Widow June 1971
June ? Southall, England
This was the first 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 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 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 17 Boston, England Gliderdrome - Starlight Room
Here, the band opened for Wild Turkey. In a couple local newspaper ads, Giant 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. 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.
Giant endured another big change at some point in the latter part 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 date and location of Malcolm’s first gig with the group is not known but, considering there seems to be a gap in known gigs between July and August, that could very well be the correct timeframe. However, there are indications it could have been as late as sometime in September or even early 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.
In the latter part of 1971, Giant continued to gig fairly steadily in the UK, mostly at clubs and colleges. Malcolm particularly remembers sharing early bills with Supertramp, Vinegar Joe and Wild Turkey. 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.
TYPICAL SETLIST (Late 1971)
Nothing at All - This song now featured Malcolm’s drum solo, as it had previously included Martin’s. Kerry and Ray again joined in.
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.
??? 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 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 has remarked that he was 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. It’s still unclear if Malcolm was a member by this time.
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. A tape exists of GG’s performance here. Although not certain, it may very well be Malcolm’s drumming heard on this tape.
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.
Chester flyers - “September Wall City Festival” Sep. 27, 1971
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.
Manchester ads - GG replaced on the bill Oct. 7, 1971
Oct. 8 Romford, England Ablemarle Club
They possibly played without a support act.
Romford ad Oct. 8, 1971
Oct. 9 Isleworth, England Borough Road College
Three bands shared this bill. More than likely, the order was Supertramp, Gentle Giant and headliners Black Widow. 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”.
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. It should be noted that, although an exact date for Malcolm’s first concert with Gentle Giant has still not been determined, he does recall playing an 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 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 events.
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. This is the first date at which Malcolm’s presence can be definitively confirmed. 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.
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.
??? 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 received.
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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