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Gentle Giant Tour History
*** Part Two ***
*** Hitting the Road ***
(1972 - early 1973)
new information will be in RED
Finally, at the beginning of 1972, Gentle Giant dropped its previous piecemeal approach and jumped headlong into extensive European touring. For the first couple months of the year, they supported Jethro Tull on that band's tour of the continent. This was their first lengthy organized tour experience and could be considered their first "big break". It was a grueling tour, with very few nights off built in. The two bands got along quite well but Ian Anderson of Tull claims that Giant frequently argued bitterly among themselves after the concerts. Supposedly, Anderson was invited occasionally to sit in with Giant on stage, but always declined, modestly claiming to not be a good enough musician for the job. It's believed that, generally, Giant kept the same setlist they had been using in the latter half of 1971. It is rumored that they did play live, at least briefly, all the songs from the not-yet-released THREE FRIENDS album, with some quickly determined to be ineffective on stage and dropped. However, Malcolm stated many years later that he has no memory of ever playing the title song, Three Friends, live on stage.
TYPICAL SETLIST (Early 1972)
Nothing at All - This still included Kerry, Ray and Gary all joining in on the percussion section of the song.
Plain Truth - This was still the only song from ACQUIRING THE TASTE that was regularly played on stage, both at the time and in subsequent years.
The band continued the trick of playing onstage a tiny portion of the National Anthem from whichever European country they happened to be in at the time. This would be worked into the very end of The Queen, which was generally used to finish the shows. Audiences would, of course, respond favorably to this nod to their nationalism.
Jan. 7 Odense, Denmark Fyens Forum opened for Jethro Tull
Jan. 7 Three out of the four songs recorded at the band's third BBC session on Dec. 12, 1971 were included on this very first broadcast of a new program oddly entitled Friday Night Is Boogie Night, hosted by John Peel. Others appearing with sessions on the program were Keef Hartley, Miller Anderson and Anne Briggs. The GG songs broadcast were Alucard, Plain Truth and Giant. The other song, Funny Ways, was intended to be broadcast on Feb. 4, but was not.
Jan. 8 Copenhagen, Denmark KB-Hallen They did two shows, opening for Jethro Tull. Early newspaper notices advertised a double bill of Gentle Giant and Jude in support at the Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke, England on Jan. 8 but by mid-December, the ads were changed to a bill of Jigsaw and Jude. GG did indeed appear in Copenhagen instead.
Jan. 10 Oslo, Norway Njardhallen Apparently, the band gave up their aforementioned rest and relaxation in Copenhagen long enough to travel to Norway for this one gig, where they opened for Jethro Tull. Although conventional wisdom among both Tull and Giant fans placed this gig at Konserthuset, it turns out that is incorrect. Konserthuset was not even built until 1977. Phil remembers this gig fondly.
Oslo article Jan. 10, 1972
Jan. 11 Stockholm, Sweden Grottan again scheduled to open for Jethro Tull but did not, due to not being allowed into Sweden. One report has Konserthuset as being the correct venue.
Jan. 14 Lund, Sweden University of Lund - Akademiska Foreningen once again scheduled to open for Jethro Tull but did not, due to not being allowed into Sweden.
Jan. 15 Copenhagen, Denmark Tivoli Konsertsal Their banishment over, Giant rejoined the Jethro Tull tour as the opening act. The venue was located in an amusement park.
Jan. 17 Munster, Germany Munsterlandhalle opened for Jethro Tull. A partial tape exists of just the last song of GG’s set, The Queen, during which Ray can be heard playing a few notes of the West German National Anthem on his bass. It would be logical to assume more of Giant’s performance may have been recorded but, if so, it has not surfaced.
Jan. 18 Berlin, Germany Deutschlandhalle opened for Jethro Tull. Phil also remembers this gig fondly.
Berlin ticket Jan. 18, 1972
Jan. 20 Lubeck, Germany Hansahalle opened for Jethro Tull
Jan. 21 Essen, Germany Grugahalle opened for Jethro Tull. A tape of this show exists. On it, Ray can again be heard playing a few notes of the West German National Anthem during The Queen. A second tape of this same show, from a different source in the audience, once existed, but the original tape has since deteriorated and is no longer usable.
Frankfurt Jan. 22, 1972
Jan. 23 Nurnberg, Germany Meistersingerhalle This concert with Jethro Tull was apparently canceled.
Jan. 25 Nurnberg, Germany Meistersingerhalle opened for Jethro Tull. This show was probably a replacement for the canceled show from two days earlier.
Jan. 26 Ludwigshafen, Germany Friedrich-Ebert Halle opened for Jethro Tull
Jan. 27 Hannover, Germany Niedersachsenhalle opened for Jethro Tull. It’s often said this gig took place at Kuppelshalle, but surviving ticket stubs clearly list Niedersachsenhalle as the venue. Kuppelshalle was actually part of the same complex but was used mainly for classical concerts. Niedersachsenhalle, used more for rock concerts, was a rectangular hall but, oddly, the stage was set up in the middle of one of the long sides, rather than on one of the shorter ends.
Jan. 28 Offenburg, Germany Oberrheinhalle opened for Jethro Tull
Offenburg Jan. 28, 1972
Jan. 30 Bern, Switzerland Festhalle opened for Jethro Tull. A tape exists and, true to form, it includes a couple bars of the Swiss National Anthem played during The Queen. On this tape, Phil comments that the show is taking place on a Sunday afternoon. A poster confirms that the show began at 3:00.
Bern flyer Jan. 30, 1972
Giant ran into scheduling difficulties when they reached
Jan. 31 Milan, Italy Tull sources list GG opening for them here, possibly filling the hole caused by the cancellation of the originally scheduled Torino gig. However, it’s quite possible this concert never took place.
Rome Feb. 1, 1972
Feb. 2 Bologna, Italy Palazzo dello Sport opened for Jethro Tull at two shows, one in the early evening and one later at night. Both were sold out with a capacity crowd of somewhere around 7,000 fans. This date of Feb. 2 seems definitive, even though some Tull sources listed a gig in Naples on this night, which Gary remembers being canceled. A Feb. 2 gig in Bologna was indeed advertised at the time in both the national Italian press and a local Bologna newspaper, and fan recollections further corroborate this date. A tape of Giant’s set from the late show exists which includes a brief snippet of the Italian National Anthem played by Ray and Gary at the end of The Queen. By all accounts, Giant was extremely well-received in this city, the audience clamoring for the band to return even after an encore. One report even has a number of disappointed fans at one of the shows leaving the venue when the lights came up after Giant finished. Tull’s Ian Anderson was reportedly somewhat angry about the audience response to GG in Bologna. A press report at the time even claimed that Anderson insisted on a contract clause prohibiting Giant from playing any more encores. Giant went on to become a highly revered band in Italy and these Bologna shows seem representative of their early impact on that country.
Bologna Feb. 2, 1972
Treviso - includes poster with incorrect venue Feb. 3, 1972
Feb. 4 On this episode of John Peel’s Friday Night Is Boogie Night BBC radio program, all four songs from the Dec. 12, 1971 session were scheduled to be rebroadcast, including Funny Ways which was missing on the initial Jan. 7 broadcast. However, studio logs indicate that only Alucard and Giant were actually aired on this date, with both Funny Ways and Plain Truth being absent. Also presenting studio sessions on the program this time around were Mick Abrahams, Lindisfarne and Miller Anderson.
Feb. 5 Novara, Italy Palazzo dello Sport An early ad in Ciao 2001 listed no gigs in Novara, although the revised itinerary published later actually listed Giant opening for Jethro Tull at two Novara dates on Feb. 5 and 6. The Italian newspaper La Stampa also advertised these Novara dates, claiming they were replacements for the canceled Torino gig from Jan. 31, Torino being about an hour away. Several eyewitnesses have now come forward verifying these two Novara date, plus a tape of their complete Feb. 5 set exists. What had made this so confusing for so long is that many Tull sources incorrectly show that band traveling to Lyon, France on Feb. 5, while the February 1972 issue of Rock and Folk Magazine noted Tull as actually being in Bordeaux, France on both Feb. 5 and 6, also incorrect. As is the case with the tape of the Bologna show, the tape from Feb. 5 includes a bit of the Italian National Anthem played at the end of The Queen. To make matters even worse, this tape has often been mistakenly listed as being from the Varese show, Novara and Varese also being relatively near each other.
Novara - ad for two consecutive dates Feb. 1972
Feb. 6 Novara, Italy Palazzo dello Sport This date was also eventually advertised in Ciao 2001. Jethro Tull sources often incorrectly list that band as playing in Paris, France on Feb. 6 or, as mentioned in the above listing, in Bordeaux. However, when the dust settled, Giant found themselves opening for Tull in Novara again, as confirmed by a couple different sources. One fan has fond memories of this double-bill Sunday concert which he claimed was an afternoon show before a sold-out audience.
Jethro Tull had two Dutch dates planned for Feb. 11 and 12 in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, respectively, and Gentle Giant was again scheduled and advertised as being the opening act. However, it appears that Giant backed out. A Ciao 2001 article published shortly afterwards indicated that Giant returned to their home country of England after finishing their Italian dates. It’s not known who took over the support slot in Rotterdam, but singer/guitarist Mike Tingley supported Tull in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam ad - Giant did not appear at this show Feb. 12, 1972
A UK press notice from December 1971 stated the band set
aside the month of March for a concert and college tour in the
The possibility has been raised that Giant played another show in the John Stripe Theatre at King Alfred’s College in Winchester, England sometime in 1972, as they did on Feb. 12, 1971 and Mar. 4, 1973. This is as of yet unconfirmed, while the exact date during the year is unknown. However, since the 1971 and 1973 shows were arranged by a close friend of the Shulmans who was, at the time, attending the college, it would not be unreasonable to assume that this same student arranged a show during 1972, as well. A different student does recall attending all three shows.
Mar. 11 Bradford, England Bradford University
Mar. 13 Gravesend, England Gravesend Civic Centre Giant played a gig with the band Writing On the Wall.
Gravesend ad Mar. 13, 1972
Mar. 17 Lancaster, England Lancaster University - Great Hall Playing support for the band on this night was the progressive band T2. According to a flyer distributed on campus, this was billed as an Easter Party. Roger Ruskin Spears’ Giant Kinetic Wardrobe also entertained the crowd, plus the University provided disco lights, late buses and a bar, all for only 45p.
Lancaster - handwritten flyer Mar. 17, 1972
point in late March, Malcolm was injured in a motorcycle accident, breaking his
left arm, left leg and pelvis, and the band was forced to find yet another
drummer on very short notice.
Discussions were held with Mike Giles, formerly of King Crimson, to have
him fill the position, but that plan fell through. Running out of time, they then managed to
recruit, as a temporary fill-in, John Weathers, who had just left his position
with the Greaseband a short time earlier and had been
working in a carpet factory. With him,
they went into some quick rehearsals and then straightaway into a tour of the
New Musical Express notice about Malcolm Mortimore’s motorcycle accident March, 1972
UK tour ad - opened for Jimi Hendrix film Apr. 1972
TYPICAL SETLIST (Apr. 1972)
Prologue - This THREE FRIENDS song was now used to begin Giant's shows.
Nothing at All - The "drum bash" continued during this tune with the new drummer. During his percussion break, John used to enjoy displaying amusing little tricks to the audience. He would sometimes change the pitch of his floor tom by blowing air into it through a plastic tube. Other times, he was spotted bouncing the sticks off the floor and catching them again. Another trick was to tap the snare drum vertically with a stick, then slide his hands one after another down the length of the stick to create a continuous rolling sound. There is also at least one photo confirming that he sometimes wore an actual rubber mask of the infamous “giant head” during his solo.
Schooldays - another song from their new album, added to the regular set for this tour only
This may be the time after which the song Giant was no longer played on a regular basis. However, it is possible that the song did turn up now and again as late as early 1973.
Apr. 1 Blackburn, England Windsor Hall opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley. There were unspecified problems with the film at this opening night of the tour.
Apr. 3 Folkestone, England Leas Cliff Hall opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley
Folkestone flyer - supported Jimi Hendrix film Apr. 3, 1972
Apr. 7 Epsom, England Ebbisham Hall opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley
Apr. 8 Barry, Wales Memorial Hall opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley. A spectator at the show remarked, while visiting with the band backstage after the show, that he preferred their two previous drummers over John Weathers. This angered John who rose to retaliate. Fortunately, Kerry and Ray intervened.
Apr. 9 Oaken Gates, England Town Hall opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley
Apr. 14 Although at one time planned for March, it’s believed that this is when the group released THREE FRIENDS in England, though one report claims that the album didn’t see its UK release until June. Apparently, it was rush released in Italy as much as two months earlier, possibly to capitalize on their recent live successes there. It’s been said that some of the later GG albums were also released first in Italy.
Apr. 17 High Wycombe, England Town Hall opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley. Though not absolutely certain, one attendee believes Kerry played the final selection, The Queen, on the Town Hall’s own pipe organ which, since this had not been cleared through proper channels, somewhat annoyed the management at the venue.
Apr. 19 Liverpool, England Liverpool Stadium opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley. Although not in the original advertisements, quite a number of sources recall Giant and the Hendrix film appearing in Liverpool on this tour, with the Liverpool Echo advertising Apr. 19 as the date. The promoter at the Liverpool Stadium, who worked under the name Dragonfly Promotions, also confirmed this concert but, interestingly, recalls it as being on April 27. The Stadium was not actually a huge outdoor sports facility, as the name may imply, but rather an indoor boxing arena which also hosted a fair number of concerts.
Liverpool ad Apr. 19, 1972
Apr. 20 East Kilbride, Scotland Olympia Ballroom opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley, although not on the originally advertised tour schedule. Only a modest number of people attended this show. There was a dance floor in front of the stage and the small number of people in attendance were asked to move their chairs onto that floor, so as to consolidate them into some semblance of a crowd.
Apr. 21 Sunderland, England Top Rank Suite opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley. A fan in attendance remembers an exceptionally long wait between Giant’s set and the Hendrix film. The picture and sound for the film were also subpar due to the use of makeshift projection and screen equipment.
Apr. 22 Northwich, England Memorial Hall opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley. Advertising for this event also promised a “spectacular disco”.
Edinburgh ticket Apr. 23, 1972
Apr. 26 Lincoln, England Drill Hall opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley. This concert was canceled at the last minute, possibly due to transportation problems.
Apr. 27 Northampton, England Guildhall opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley. The band’s original schedule listed this Northampton gig but, as stated above, the promotor of this tour’s Liverpool appearance remembers Giant being in that city on Apr. 27. There is no confirmation one way or the other, but dates did sometimes get switched around on short notice.
Apr. 28 Cheltenham, England Town Hall This show did not appear on the group’s original tour itinerary, but this date is probably correct. The band is assumed to have again opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley. Due to electrical problems, they were late starting their set, a situation Derek blamed on the tour manager. A tape exists which includes the only known live recording of Schooldays. It is generally believed this tape is from Cheltenham, but that cannot be verified. As can be heard on that tape, Phil got caught up in a microphone stand early in the show and ripped the back of his pants. Derek took the opportunity to tease him on stage over this unfortunate mishap. In 2003, Schooldays was included on an official live Gentle Giant release called PROLOGUE on the European Glass House label. It was a direct copy from an earlier commercial bootleg. Between 2000 and 2005, Glass House released ten titles, mostly exact copies of previous bootlegs of audience recordings, soundboard recordings, or radio broadcasts, with no attempt to clean up any sound defects. The band members do not endorse the sub-par sound quality of these releases, but they do receive some small royalties from them.
Apr. 29 St. Albans, England City Hall opened for Jimi Plays Berkeley, although not on the original tour schedule
St. Albans ad Apr. 29, 1972
Apr. 30 London, England Greyhound The band played alone at this particular gig, which was a free admission show.
Ad for London’s Greyhound Apr. 30, 1972
While with Jethro Tull earlier in the year, Giant was particularly well-received in Germany. Because of this, they made it a point to return there on their own as soon as possible, therefore scheduling a German headlining tour with the bands Chicken Shack and Man, the latter being the band that John Weathers became a member of in the 1980's. This tour was, on some posters and tickets, billed and promoted as the "London Rock Scene '72". It's believed that Chicken Shack played first, with Man taking the stage second. Also, Phil recalls a gig Giant played with T Rex sometime in mid 1972, but where or when this was is not known.
On stage, most of the group's live repertoire remained in rotation, though Schooldays was permanently dropped and Peel the Paint was added.
TYPICAL SETLIST (Mid 1972)
Nothing at All
The Queen - A portion of the host country’s National Anthem was again added to the tail end of this song.
Peel the Paint - The second half of this song, featuring Gary on guitar, was played for the first time on this tour and was done separately, instead of combined with other songs, as would be done in later years. It appeared only when an encore was needed.
May 9 Germany New Musical Express stated that the band’s German tour may have started on this date but, if so, the exact city is unknown. Variety had previously printed a notice that the German tour would start on May 11.
May 11 Oldenburg, Germany Weser-Ems-Halle This show definitely took place and may have been the beginning of the tour. The band shared the bill with Chicken Shack and Man.
May 12 Offenbach, Germany Stadthalle A tape exists of this concert which includes the encore Peel the Paint. The West German National Anthem was again played during The Queen but the excerpt was a bit longer than that played at the January German concerts. Once more, they were scheduled to share the stage with Chicken Shack and Man. However, one report has Deep Purple brought in at the last minute to headline, even though they were at the time without guitarist Ritchie Blackmore who was recovering from hepatitis. While some evidence does suggest this as an outside possibility, a knowledgeable Deep Purple source refutes the claim. It does seem unlikely that Giant and their manager would allow another band to take over their headlining slot at the last minute.
Offenbach poster May 12, 1972
May 13 Kronau, Germany Grosse Mehrzweckhalle A tape exists of this gig at which they shared the bill with Chicken Shack and Man. The longer portion of the West German National Anthem again appears on that tape.
Nurnberg ticket May 16, 1972
May 21 Berlin, Germany Waldbuhne This Berlin venue hosted the "Super Pop Festival" from May 19 to May 22. Early advertisements for the event listed many other bands, but did not list Gentle Giant. Nonetheless, Giant was eventually booked and their name did indeed appear in the printed program, showing they were scheduled for a May 21 slot. However, it’s recently been reported that they did not appear, after all, although Chicken Shack and Man did. It’s been said that only about 7,000 fans were in attendance for this festival, but that seems remarkably low. On the other hand, it is known that two other open-air festivals were taking place in Germany during the same few days. One fan seems to remember Giant appearing at one of these other festivals, the “2nd British Rock Meeting” at Insel Grun in Germersheim. This may not be true, but it still remains a possibility.
Berlin - posters and program schedule for canceled appearance at “Super Pop Festival” May 21, 1972
June 13 The band did their fourth BBC studio session at London's Transcription Service Studio T1, recording Mister Class and Quality?, Prologue and Schooldays. It seems that the song Three Friends segued out of Mister Class and Quality?, according to one fan who recorded the original broadcast. This is similar to the way the two songs were connected on the THREE FRIENDS album. On the BBC session, the title track was heavy on bass and mellotron, but did not include vocals. Prologue had some additional bass parts and an extra saxophone part in the middle, not found on the album version. Sadly, the tape made by this fan is now lost, as is the BBC's master recording of the session.
Band itineraries and plans seemed to be unsettled for a while in mid 1972, with press reports conflicting. New Musical Express next placed the band in Italy for 16 days starting in early June, then five weeks in America beginning at the end of June. However, Melody Maker didn’t seem to corroborate this, instead reporting on a planned short tour of Eastern Europe starting on June 20 with five dates in Poland, followed by two dates in Czechoslovakia, and concluding with two dates in Yugoslavia. The June American tour definitely did not occur, while Gary Green claims the Eastern European tour also never took place. Melody Maker said this was to be followed in July by ten more days in Germany and then, at last, the sixteen days in Italy. Italy was another country that had embraced the band during their appearances with Jethro Tull, so they were itching to return there and capitalize on that. While in Italy, they were to include some club dates, but specific information about these alleged summer German and Italian dates has proven elusive. Nothing whatsoever has been found to confirm summer dates in Germany. A late July issue of the Italian newspaper l’Unita implied the band was currently on tour in that country but, again, it was not clear. On the other hand, a contemporary issue of Ciao 2001 indicated the group intended to play live dates in Italy in September, but that definitely did not happen, as they were in America that entire month. There is a very real possibility that Giant played no live Italian dates at all in the summer of 1972.
July 10 This is believed to be the date that THREE FRIENDS was released in America. Less likely is the possibility of a release in August, although it has been suggested. As stated earlier, Gentle Giant’s exact album release dates are often difficult to trace, with projected dates frequently changing and contradictory information often appearing in print.
July 14 Giant's fourth BBC session, recorded June 13, was broadcast on Friday Night Is Boogie Night, hosted by John Peel. Others with sessions on the program were Ashman Reynolds, Slade and Tir Na Nog.
July ? Venice, Italy Supposedly, GG was scheduled to play at an Arts Festival in Venice during the month of July but, as explained above, no confirmation has been located.
July - Aug. Between July 24 and Aug. 5, the band
recorded their fourth album, OCTOPUS, at
Aug. 8 They recorded their fifth BBC studio
session at Maida Vale Studio 4 in
??? Lido de Jesolo, Italy The band performed on an outside terrace in this seaside town near Venice. Rather than be part of an actual tour, this may simply have been some sort of summer promotional appearance. as a small segment was filmed by the Italian RAI TV network. The date of Aug. 9 appears in one source, but this is totally unconfirmed.
Lido de Jesolo Summer 1972
Although no live Italian gigs have been verified for the middle of 1972, it becomes clear, between press reports and band recollections, that Giant was filmed several times in Italy during that summer. The July 1972 issue of Musica e Dischi reported that Giant had recently spent a little time in Italy to film “a series of TV programmes” and that this trip was intended for filming only and did not include any live gigs. One of these films was made in Milan and it’s believed that, when broadcast, this was the first time the band appeared on television anywhere. It was a ”45 minute special” during which the band ran through several live songs, and it supposedly aired on television in mid to late July. John Weathers specifically recalls filming in Milan shortly after joining the group. Things did not go well, as the band and the film crew kept missing each other throughout the day. Frustrated, the band spent much of their time in the local pub. Gary freely admits he had too much to drink and, finally back in the hotel after filming, he got himself into some trouble with the hotel management, due to his accidentally slipping in the bathroom and damaging a window and sink. John, who was Gary's roommate at the time, swears it was unintentional. John also believes the film of this Milan performance probably no longer exists.
As stated above, a portion of the Lido de Jesolo performance was filmed by Italy’s RAI TV network. Captured was a few minutes of the band performing on stage and a brief interview with Phil Shulman, during which he mentions that John had been with the band a “couple months". About three minutes of the concert footage, without the interview, appeared on the Permette Questo Ballo? program on Nov. 14, while about four minutes of film appeared on the Adesso Musica program on an unknown date. The interview segment may have been included on the Adesso Musica broadcast, but it may have been shown on a different program.
Additional television and film projects were apparently undertaken in Italy, although only sketchy details are known. Melody Maker stated at the time that GG planned to record some music they had written for an Italian film. Possibly referring to the same project, a 1976 article in Trouser Press referred to some point in Giant’s earlier years when they were considering providing a soundtrack for an animated Italian film, but the production company went out of business before the project could get off the ground. The July 1, 1972 issue of Billboard provided information on yet another film. Apparently, an Italian disc jockey named Nico Metta was currently touring discotheques in that country with his 90-minute “Pop Show”, during which he would play the latest records and show a 20-minute film of various bands and musicians. Giant was one of the bands included in his film, although Metta himself has recently stated that he believes his film to be lost now. The band also is rumored to have filmed a segment for possible inclusion on the September 1972 broadcast finale of the Festivalbar program. This was a long running annual competition based on radio play around the country and, although Giant did supposedly film a segment, they were not finalists and were not included in the televised finale.
A couple members of the popular Italian progressive band Formula 3 have confirmed that they were filmed with Giant sometime in the summer of 1972 for a television appearance, but it is not known when it aired. John and Gary both recall the two bands working together, as well. The two bands each played sets of their own material. A proposal was made for the groups to unite for one improvised jam at the end and, while Formula 3 was more than willing to do this, Giant was more reluctant, due to their habit of generally playing only written, arranged music. The Formula 3 band members remember differently as to whether this improvised number was ultimately included or not.
Most of this footage, if it still exists at all, is not available to the public, so the exact contents are sheer speculation.
Ad for U.S. tour dates with Black Sabbath Aug. - Sep. 1972
By the latter part of 1972, they had made it, at last, to
At their North American shows, they continued to play most of the same songs they had been playing for a while. However, The Queen was apparently dropped at this time, probably due to its unique British flavor not translating well for North American audiences. There are rumors, possibly true, that they did perform rare material from THREE FRIENDS, as well as material that would appear on OCTOPUS, which was still unreleased in America at that time. Gary remembers A Cry for Everyone being played one time, before being dropped, but it's not known where that was or even which year.
TYPICAL SETLIST (Fall 1972)
Alucard - This was apparently included in the set less and less as the year went on.
Nothing at All
Plain Truth - Ray's violin solo was, by now, getting a bit longer and wilder.
Aug. 24 Charleston, South Carolina County Hall opened for Black Sabbath in a somewhat run down old building. There had been conjecture that this gig was held in Charleston, West Virginia. However, a surviving ticket clearly proves the show was in South Carolina. Three separate fans have vivid memories of the event, one even possessing a photo of Sabbath on stage. It seems Sabbath only played two songs. Partway into the third, Ozzy threw his microphone stand over the amplifiers and stormed off, never to return. The crowd was told that his voice was shot and the rest of the show was canceled. On this night, the Sabbath crowd was relatively supportive during Giant’s opening set, but they were not as understanding when the headliner canceled. Riots ensued in the parking lot after the show.
Press notices about Black Sabbath concert cancellations Aug. - Sep. 1972
Aug. 25 Nashville, Tennessee Municipal Auditorium Although scheduled, Sabbath canceled at the last minute their appearance at this general admission concert, no doubt angering many in the sold-out 20,000 seat venue. The show went on, however, with the other two scheduled bands, Giant opening for Black Oak Arkansas. One eyewitness thinks GG may have played Working All Day, but this is unconfirmed. However, this same eyewitness does clearly remember them playing The Advent of Panurge, not yet released in America. This is also not confirmed, but is certainly possible. More than one fan at the concert has claimed the band went over fairly well, considering they were relatively unknown in the States. However, a contemporary press review reported the audience greeted them with “unsympathetic ears” and “dumb stares”. Ray and Kerry have both recounted staying in Nashville for several days with very little to do on this tour, due to Sabbath’s canceling some gigs. Various other press reports have corroborated problems within the Sabbath camp leading to a few cancellations on this tour. Ozzy Osbourne’s throat problems were usually given as a cause, although other factors probably came into play.
Nashville - ad for first canceled gig with Black Sabbath Aug. 25, 1972
Aug 25 John Peel’s BBC program Friday Night is Boogie Night rebroadcast the Giant session recorded on June 13, along with sessions by Medicine Head and Miller Anderson.
Aug. 26 Louisville, Kentucky Louisville Gardens planned as part of the Kentucky State Fair festivities but canceled and eventually rescheduled for Louisville’s Freedom Hall on Sep. 6
Aug. 27 Detroit, Michigan Cobo Hall This time GG was supposed to open for Edgar Winter and headliners Black Sabbath but, again, it was canceled at the last minute and rescheduled for Aug. 31.
Aug. 28 Minneapolis, Minnesota Minneapolis Armory canceled and rescheduled for the same venue on Sep. 5
Aug. 29 St. Paul, Minnesota St. Paul Civic Center Theater There was at one time a rumor that Giant, finding themselves with free time due to Black Sabbath cancellations, booked themselves a last minute gig in St. Paul on this evening, but no evidence whatsoever has surfaced to support this.
Aug. 30 Knoxville, Tennessee Civic Coliseum supposedly opened for Black Sabbath, but not confirmed. Argent was also on the bill, probably set to open the show. Surviving ticket stubs from this concert prove that it did take place at some point, but do not confirm when. Standard practice was to honor the original tickets if a gig was rescheduled for a different date. That may very well have been the case in Knoxville.
Knoxville - unconfirmed show Aug. 30, 1972
Aug. 31 Detroit, Michigan Cobo Hall Originally, the band was scheduled to open for Black Sabbath at the Civic Center in Roanoke, Virginia, but that was changed for some unknown reason. Instead, press reports confirm that the canceled Aug. 27 Detroit concert took place on this date instead. The lineup was Giant, Edgar Winter and Sabbath, in that order,
Sep. 1 Savannah, Georgia Civic Center Arena Like what happened in Charleston and Nashville already on this tour, it seems that GG played its opening set but Sabbath backed out, once more supposedly because of Ozzy’s throat problems.
Sep. ? Chandler,
did participate at this three-day Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival, but the exact
date that they played is still unsure, with the original tour itinerary and two
fans in attendance stating the band appeared in the early afternoon of the
first day of festivities, Sep. 2, while two other fans claim they actually
appeared in the early afternoon of the second day, Sep. 3. It is believed that they flew into nearby
Chandler - “Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival” Sep. 1972
Sep. 3 Miami, Florida Hollywood Sportatorium The Aug. 9 issue of Billboard announced a Sep. 3 Black Sabbath concert scheduled for the Sportatorium, which would presumably include Giant in support. However, no other evidence at all has ever surfaced to corroborate this. In fact, in that same magazine’s Sep. 9 issue, they announced the Miami Sabbath concert as now planned for Nov. 25, a time when Giant would certainly not be involved.
Sep. 5 The group's fifth BBC session from Aug. 8 was broadcast on Top Gear hosted by John Peel. Other sessions on the program were by the Sutherland Brothers Band and the Albion Country Band.
Sep. 5 Minneapolis, Minnesota Minneapolis Armory Along with JoJo Gunne, Giant opened for Black Sabbath. This was one of the rescheduled dates, originally planned for Aug. 28.
Sep. 6 Louisville, Kentucky Freedom Hall opened for Black Sabbath before a mostly well behaved audience. This concert was originally scheduled for Aug. 26 at Louisville Gardens during the Kentucky State Fair. An attempt was made to reschedule the show for Aug. 31 in Freedom Hall, but that didn’t happen either. Instead, the rescheduled concert finally took place on Sep. 6. Giant took the stage just after 8:00 but, due to their equipment not arriving on time, Sabbath had to scramble and rent a lot of replacement gear locally. This caused them to not start their own set until nearly 10:30. The crowd was estimated by the promoter to be about 5,000, small for a hall that seated 18,000. Because of this, a special smaller stage area was set up in the center facing one long side of the building only. The Courier-Journal reported that quite a few people left before the show ended, possibly because of the lateness of the hour.
Sep. 7 Jackson, Mississippi Memorial Coliseum opened for Black Sabbath. A brief silent 8mm film clip of this performance is known to exist. Argent again was on the bill, as well, probably in the middle position. Rod Argent recalls his band sharing the bill with GG a number of times, so there are probably additional GG/Sabbath shows from this tour on which they appeared.
Sep. 8 New Orleans, Louisiana Municipal Auditorium opened for Black Sabbath. The exact location of this concert had been up in the air as some conflicting information pointed to another major New Orleans rock venue called Warehouse. However, it now seems all but certain that the show did take place at the Municipal Auditorium. A soundboard recording has recently turned up of this entire performance, the only known live soundboard recording of a Gentle Giant concert with Phil Shulman still in the band. While the entire recording is in the possession of the band, Prologue from this recording now is included on the 2011 CD remaster of THREE FRIENDS.
New Orleans ad Sep. 8, 1972
Sep. 9 Mobile, Alabama Municipal Auditorium opened for Black Sabbath. Early on, Sabbath had planned to play to play in Shreveport, Louisiana on this evening.
San Diego ad Sep. 10, 1972
Sep. 11 Salt Lake City, Utah Salt Palace At this sold out general admission show, Giant hit the stage first, followed by a Latino rock band from Los Angeles called Malo, run by George Santana, brother of Carlos Santana. Last appeared headliners Black Sabbath. Giant was fairly well received and reportedly even got to perform an encore.
Sep. 13 Portland, Oregon Memorial Coliseum opened for Black Sabbath in front of 5,700 fans. The reviewer in the local Oregonian gave Sabbath a truly horrific write-up but failed to mention Giant at all.
Sep. 15 West Hollywood, California Hollywood Bowl Captain Beyond started this show, with Giant in the middle, then headliners Black Sabbath. It has sometimes been assumed that Iron Butterfly was on this bill, but that is incorrect. Iron Butterfly had broken up the previous May, but two of their members were in Captain Beyond. A large billboard with the Giant's head was erected in town prior to the show to publicize GG's upcoming appearance, but much of the crowd was particularly unkind to the band, throwing beer bottles and the like. Firecrackers were set off during the introduction to Funny Ways, causing Derek and Phil to yell at the crowd, Phil in a most crude manner. Still, a reviewer writing in the L.A. Free Press claimed GG’s set to be one of the most powerful performances he’d seen in quite some time. A tape exists of this concert, at which 20,000 to 25,000 fans were present. Unfortunately, Sabbath's Tony Iommi collapsed while on stage at this show, near the end of Sabbath’s set. It’s possible that some 8mm film footage of the show may have been shot but, if so, it is now believed lost.
West Hollywood - infamous Hollywood Bowl show Sep. 15, 1972
Sep. 16 Sacramento, California Civic Auditorium This gig with Black Sabbath was canceled, due to Tony Iommi's collapse the night before.
After finishing their dates with Sabbath, Giant managed to take a few days off before continuing. They spent them in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Next, they did a small number of dates opening for several other acts, including Yes. This led to more bookings and Phil recalls them even headlining the odd gig here and there. One early report had them planning some gigs opening for Chicago, though it’s not known if they ever came about. Phil also recalls sharing the stage with Johnny Winter, a musician he professed great admiration for, but dates the two would have shared are unknown. Interestingly, Derek stated in a press report at the time that he did not share his brother’s respect for Winter.
Stone magazine reported at the time that Columbia, Giant’s
American label, had arranged a promotional stunt of having a real life giant
appear on stage during the band’s first North American concert tour. The gentleman in question was 36-year old Ed
Carmel, an incredible nine-foot, one-inch tall New York City resident who had
once worked with the Ringling Brothers Circus.
He was to introduce the band and carry them to their spots on
stage. Record World added that
this was to come at a cost to Columbia of $18,000. However, the Rolling Stone article
went on to state that Mr. Carmel died of a heart attack before the tour even
began, causing Columbia to struggle to find a replacement. Derek himself mentioned this in an interview
with Record Mirror shortly after the tour. He added that someone had even suggested
replacing the deceased giant with dwarves, but the band didn’t like the
idea. However, other band members have
no memory of these events and have said that Derek was known to "stretch
the truth" a bit in interviews. A
press report from 1977 also refers to Columbia’s plan, saying a giant actually
did appear at some of the band’s early American gigs. Other unsubstantiated rumors have since
popped up, seeming to lend credence to the idea that, for at least some shows,
some sort of long-haired, costumed giant did indeed introduce the band, after
carrying them to the stage. Much of this
may not seem likely, but it has not yet been definitely ruled out. On many early live recordings, including
before and after the Fall 1972
Record World article about real-life giant late 1972
Sep. 19 Cincinnati, Ohio Cincinnati Gardens The Eagles opened this concert, followed by Giant, then headliners Yes. Although the Eagles opened for Yes at quite a few shows around this time, it’s not known at how many of these shows Giant was also on the bill. Phil has recollected that it was only a small number and GG’s name was not always present on posters or ticket stubs, even when they did appear. Additionally, it’s believed that the running order of these concerts with Yes was not always consistent, with the Eagles sometimes playing before Giant, instead of the other way around.
Cincinnati ads Sep. 19, 1972
Indianapolis ad Sep. 20, 1972
Sep. 21 Detroit, Michigan Cobo Hall played first before the Eagles and headliners Yes. One newspaper review gave Giant a lukewarm reception at best, while referring to them as “Humble Giant”.
Detroit Sep. 21, 1972
While in America in the Fall of 1972, Gentle Giant was filmed for its very first North American television appearance, a fact further verified by a 1973 Melody Maker article. The film was produced by a St. Louis, Missouri television station for broadcast on that city’s new late night rock program called Tube Trip. However, since Giant did not actually play a gig in St. Louis at this time, specifics as to the exact date and location of filming have been difficult to nail down. The band may have performed in some sort of studio setting, although that has not been verified. An article in an October issue of Record World indicated a Gentle Giant segment had already been broadcast on this St Louis program by that time but, again, the exact date of the broadcast is not known, although it was simulcast over local St. Louis radio, as well. Tube Trip was inspired by earlier free-form rock programs, particularly Detroit Tube Works which had been shown in 1970 and 1971 in Detroit, Michigan. When that show ended, its reruns were syndicated and shown in several other Midwest cities, including St. Louis, until mid 1972. At that time, a St. Louis television station tried out its own similarly formatted show, using the simpler name of Tube Trip, broadcasting only sporadically in 1972. In 1973, Giant appeared on three more episodes of Tube Trip, by which time it was also being shown on a Kansas City, Missouri TV station.
Sep. 23 Minneapolis, Minnesota Minneapolis Armory Although some Yes sources have conflicting information, it’s been confirmed that GG, the Eagles and headliners Yes played this evening in Minneapolis. It was a general admission concert. On this occasion, the Eagles played first as people were filing into the hall, with Giant taking the stage second.
Sep. 24 Milwaukee,
Wisconsin Mecca Arena Again, the Eagles
went on first, followed by Giant and finally Yes. The arena, also known simply as the Milwaukee
Arena, seated about 13,000, though only about 3000 attended this gig. Originally, the date was believed to have
been Sep. 25. However, Yes and the
Eagles, without Gentle Giant, were in Hartford, Connecticut on that date
playing a rescheduled show after being rained out there in August. One fan at the
Sep. 29 Houston, Texas University of Houston - Houston Room The band put on a free concert at this University, arranged by the school’s Program Council. Originally, this was arranged as an outdoor performance on Thursday, Sep. 28 at 2:00 P.M. but that was canceled on the day of the event as negotiations fell apart between the University, Columbia Records and the promotors of the Oct. 1 Houston Music Hall gig already scheduled. Concerns were raised that the free show on Sep. 29 would hurt ticket sales for the Oct. 1 show. The free show was quickly rescheduled for noon in the school’s Houston Room on Friday, Sep. 29 while negotiations continued, but was canceled yet again by Thursday night. The school’s daily newspaper followed the story closely as talks continued with things not resolving until the last minute. Finally, at noon on Friday, the band did manage to perform at the University, although it was not an easy gig. A later published review pointed out the “horribly distorting sound system” and claimed the show was saved by Phil Shulman’s clowning around during the various equipment hassles, thereby lightening the mood in the room. The several hundred people in the crowd did respond with a standing ovation at the end but Phil told the reviewer, when describing the PA system, that “it was positively bloody useless for a professional band!” It is presumed this concert was moved up to noon to allow the group time to get to San Antonio for their evening gig, as listed below.
Houston - free concert with scheduling problems Sep. 29, 1972
Sep. 29 San Antonio, Texas Trinity University - Laurie Auditorium opened for Frampton’s Camel. This would have made for a busy day as the band had just finished a free concert in Houston that very afternoon, as described in the above listing.
San Antonio ad Sep. 29, 1972
Sep. 30 Arlington, Texas University of Texas - Texas Hall Steve Miller headlined here, supported by Frampton’s Camel and Giant, who probably opened the show.
Oct. 1 Houston, Texas Music Hall opened the show, followed by Frampton’s Camel and headliner Steve Miller. Giant played Houston several times through the years, but Gary recalls one particularly tough gig there that they played after engaging in too much sunbathing in the nearby city of Galveston. John got the worst of it, ending up with the top of his head seriously sunburned, but he didn’t let it affect his playing at the show. Unfortunately, it’s not known at which concert or in which year this took place.
Houston ad Oct. 1, 1972
Oct. 2 Columbia, South Carolina Carolina Coliseum opened for the Eagles and headliners Yes.
??? Tampa, Florida University of South Florida There are reports that Giant played in a gymnasium at this college sometime around 1972 or 1973, but there is conflicting information as to the events surrounding this concert. One fan says GG was extremely popular on campus and public demand led to their being booked for the gig. Another fan says few on campus had heard of the band and the audience was very small, a situation made worse by the band's being late for the show. The first fan claims the band's amplifiers were set on the sides of the stage facing inward, allowing the band to hear each other without the need for monitors. The second fan remembers the acoustics as being terrible, yet Giant seemed to enjoy themselves, talking and bantering with the small crowd. Verification as to exactly when this gig was held is certainly needed. Of course, one or both fans may actually be recalling a much later gig held at this University on March 12, 1977.
Giant went over extremely well when they played their first Canadian dates, as headliners no less. These appearances garnered the band quite a bit of good publicity. Peel the Paint is known to have again turned up in their setlist at times, though this may not have been a regular occurrence.
Oct. 6 Rimouski, Quebec Centre Civique Giant was the last English rock band to play in this particular city until Van der Graaf Generator played there in 1976. 1,000 people were in attendance and they were quite upset when Giant ended their set after only one hour. The band explained to the audience that they did not feel comfortable playing longer because they were working with a new drummer. Giant was never a band to play exceptionally long sets and in this time period, just an hour or a bit longer was common. Still, their explanation on this evening seems an odd excuse as John had, by then, been with the group for half a year.
Oct. 7 Montreal, Quebec Centre Sportif de l'Universite de Montreal This was the first concert of the University’s 1972-1973 season. 1800 people were in the audience, rather a low number for this venue, but the local press said the crowd enjoyed themselves. A local comedy/folk act named Plume and Cassonade opened this show which Phil says was also a very successful gig. An existing tape of the concert includes Peel the Paint again done as a separate song, as was done in May, but in a slightly modified version from what was done then. The crowd erupted with cheers and applause during the Nothing at All percussion break. During this break, the band used their sticks, in sequence, on the drums, the drum stands, the microphone stands, the microphone cables and the floor, before reversing the order, finally returning to the drums. A very brief silent 8mm film clip of the show is also known to exist.
Oct. 8 Ste-Foy, Quebec Pavillon Maurice-Pollack - Universite Laval at one time advertised for Oct. 9, but it did take place on Oct. 8. Attendance here was greater than in Montreal on the previous night. The press attributed this to the fact that there was less competition from other venues in this area, than there was in Montreal. This was a gig that Phil remembers as being very successful. Ste-Foy is right outside of Quebec City and the venue was in a basement, with the audience sitting on the floor. Opening the show was a local progressive band called William D. Fisher. There is an unsubstantiated report that some silent 8mm film footage of this concert exists.
By mid October, Giant had
originally planned to end their North American tour and were at one point
considering going on to play in
Ciao 2001 ad for canceled Italian tour Oct. 1972
the Sabbath fans, the Tull audiences tended to accept
the band more readily, as they had when the two bands worked together in
live recordings from this
Oct. 12 America There may have been a U.S. gig somewhere on this date, but the city is not known.
Oct. 14 Rochester, New York War Memorial opened for Jethro Tull. A tape of this show exists. One fan in the crowd remembers that, during the Nothing At All percussion break, band members were even hitting their drumsticks on the floor. Other fans have recalled this same activity at other shows, but Gary has no memory of it.
Rochester review Oct. 14, 1972
Oct. 16 Springfield, Massachusetts Civic Center GG definitely opened for Jethro Tull, although there is a possibility that Captain Beefheart may also have been on the bill. This show was sold out with 9,500 in attendance, described at the time as one of the largest crowds to date in this fairly new facility. As was becoming fairly routine at Tull shows, there were problems again on this night with about 300 unruly people without tickets causing trouble outside and in the lobby, resulting in a strong police response, several arrests and a couple minor injuries. However, the manager of the Civic Center said there were no problems inside
Oct. 17 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Civic Arena opened for Jethro Tull before at least 13,000 fans in this sold out gig. Scalpers did a brisk business outside the venue, so high was the demand for tickets. One fan in the crowd seems to recall A Cry for Everyone being in this show, which is possible, though unconfirmed. Even though his wife hails from this area, Ray eventually began to dislike Pittsburgh, claiming the city had a very unadventurous musical climate.
Pittsburgh ad Oct. 17, 1972
Oct. 18 Charleston, West Virginia Civic Center opened for Jethro Tull. The Charleston Gazette was rapturous in its praise for Giant, referring to them as “perhaps the year’s sleeper act” and “one to watch”.
Charleston - headline and excerpt from review Oct. 18, 1972
Oct. 21 Cleveland, Ohio Public Hall opened for Jethro Tull before a capacity crowd of 10,500 fans. However, this show does not appear on Giant’s tour itinerary, which had them going directly from Columbia to Memphis on Oct. 20. Cleveland was apparently a last minute addition.
Oct. 23 Little Rock, Arkansas Barton Coliseum opened for Jethro Tull. Attendance was reported to be around 5,000 which, if true, is surprisingly low for a Tull show at this time, considering the Coliseum held over 10,000.
Oct. 24 Nashville, Tennessee Municipal Auditorium It’s believed the group was scheduled to again open for Jethro Tull, but confirmation has proven elusive. Although Tull definitely did play Nashville on this night before 9000 fans, there are just as many clear indications from fan remembrances that Giant did appear as there are that they did not. Written documentation one way or the other is sadly lacking at this time.
Oct. 25 Louisville, Kentucky Convention Center opened for Jethro Tull. A relatively well-behaved sell-out crowd of 6500 witnessed this show and were impressed enough by GG to bring them back for an encore. Originally, Captain Beefheart was advertised as the support act, but it was changed to Giant in later ads.
Louisville ad Oct. 25, 1972
Oct. 26 Bowling Green, Kentucky Western Kentucky University - Diddle Arena opened for Jethro Tull before an audience of over 6,500.
Oct. 27 Jackson, Mississippi Memorial Coliseum It appears that GG did not appear here. Jethro Tull performed but Dr. John served as the opening act.
Oct. 28 Baton Rouge, Louisiana Louisiana State University - Assembly Center opened for Jethro Tull. Press reports varied in their attendance estimates, placing it anywhere from 10,000 to over 12,000. For most of their dates with Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull, GG had an English roadie by the name of Sam Simpson. During their headlining set, Tull would recruit Sam and have him dress as a gorilla or as a deep sea diver, as part of their legendary stage theatrics. during this particular show, Sam was visited by his American girlfriend whom he had met earlier in the tour and added her into the festivities by carrying her across Tull’s stage when he was in costume. A few nights later, when the two bands reached Florida, Sam left Giant’s employ and decided to stay in the US with his girlfriend, the two of them later to be married.
been assumed that Giant opened for Tull at the
Nov. 1 Boston, Massachusetts Boston Garden opened for Jethro Tull before a crowd of 15,000. A review in The Morning Record conceded that Giant was “well received” but otherwise gave short shrift to their performance. Likewise, the Randolph Herald was kind to Giant, but commented that they seemed “noticeably insecure” on stage. The worst review appeared in the Boston Globe which liked nothing about the band, heaping its most scorn on John Weathers whom it called “consistently terrible”. Tull played a second show here on Nov. 2 but Giant left that morning for St. Petersburg, so they could not have played support again.
Nov. 2 Joh Peel’s Top Gear program on BBC rebroadcast Giant’s Aug. 8 session, along with sessions by Glencoe, Nazareth and the JSD Band.
Nov. 3 St. Petersburg, Florida Bayfront Center opened for Jethro Tull in a sold out show. A number of fans remained outside without tickets and caused a fair share of trouble, resulting in a broken front door and 16 arrests. This led the manager of the Bayfront to speculate on whether he would continue to book rock shows.
St. Petersburg - review in St. Petersburg Independent Nov. 3, 1972
Nov. 5 Jacksonville,
Coliseum opened for Jethro Tull. A fan
definitely recalls hearing Working All Day but, though it's
possible, it's not confirmed. No live
recordings have ever surfaced of this song which was also rumored to have been
played at the Aug. 25
Nov. 7 Fort Wayne, Indiana Allen County Memorial Coliseum opened for Jethro Tull before 8,500 fans
Fort Wayne - curiously understated review Nov. 7, 1972
Nov. 8 Detroit,
Michigan Cobo Hall Interestingly,
this was the third time the group played at Cobo Hall
since they first came to America in August, all as openers for different
bands. This time, they opened for Jethro
Tull, who were so popular at the time that this
particular gig sold out in three hours, under near riot conditions. Tull played Cobo Hall again on Nov. 9, but Giant had already left town
Nov. 12 Baltimore, Maryland Civic Center opened for Jethro Tull. The show was sold out with an attendance of 12,000. An additional 20 people outside were arrested trying to break into the building.
Nov. 14 An excerpt from the Lido de Jesolo performance filmed in August was broadcast by the Italian RAI TV network on the Permette Questo Ballo? program. This show dealt with music popular at the time in Italy’s dance halls. Giant’s segment was a three minute live clip performing before the audience. However, it’s difficult to determine which song they were actually playing because the studio version of Peel the Paint was dubbed over the top.
In November of 1972, Giant returned to the U.K. to join a short tour with the British blues band, the Groundhogs, with whom they had already worked many times. Stray was actually the Groundhogs’ opening act on this tour, but GG joined the bill on most of the dates, playing first. On other nights, the Groundhogs were supported by Badger and, on at least one known occasion, by Fusion Orchestra. Representatives of the bands involved insisted in the press that tickets for this tour would always cost between 50p and 90p at the most, claiming it to be “surely the best value for money concert tour to have hit the road this year”. The program sold at the gigs included a page on Gentle Giant but, oddly, it also included a picture of the band taken while Malcolm Mortimore was still with them. It's possible that Alucard was less commonly included in the set during this UK tour but, with very little recorded evidence in existence, it's hard to say for certain. Songs from the new OCTOPUS album were not always included at every stop, either, if at all.
Ad for UK tour with Groundhogs Late 1972
Nov. 18 Edinburgh, Scotland Empire Theatre Although this gig was advertised as being at the Empire Theatre, one fan claims it was really at the Edinburgh Odeon. Although GG was scheduled to open for Stray and the Groundhogs, other sources claim Stray played in Canterbury, England on this evening.
Nov. 23 Oxford, England New Theatre GG was scheduled to open for Stray and the Groundhogs but another source indicates Badger may have replaced Giant.
Nov. 25 Hitchin, England Hitchin College For this college show, they were scheduled to headline, preceded by Medicine Head and Mike Absalom. However, Giant canceled their appearance, instead spending the evening in London. This greatly frustrated officials at the college who claim to have been not informed of this until the show was set to begin and, even then, in a rather patronizing manner by the band’s agent. The audience, expecting to see Gentle Giant, was also frustrated when told they would not perform, but was overjoyed to find out that Absalom, a favorite at this college, would now play a double set.
Ad for canceled Hitchin show Nov. 25, 1972
Nov. 26 Newcastle, England City Hall opened for Stray and the Groundhogs
Newcastle ad Nov. 26, 1972
Dec. 1 The OCTOPUS album had its official release in England in the first week of December, possibly on Dec. 1. There are indications, however, that it may have actually hit the shops as early as Nov. 16 or thereabouts. Interestingly, it was first released in Italy in mid October and was already high in the Italian charts by mid November.
Dec. 1 Manchester, England Free Trade Hall Giant was supposed to open for Stray and the Groundhogs again but, due to someone having a case of laryngitis, they canceled their appearance. The other two bands played extra-long sets to make up the time.
Dec. 3 Bristol, England Colston Hall The band was scheduled to open for Stray and the Groundhogs but did not perform, as several of the members were ill with stomach problems. Instead, an acoustic guitar/harmonica player substituted for them. Kerry's girlfriend, Leslie, also attended this show, not knowing the band was not going to perform.
Dec. 8 On this date, Gentle Giant was one of the acts whose music was featured on a locally produced Houston, Texas television program called Sensatiation. It was a short-lived series, only lasting six episodes, and this was the fifth broadcast. It appeared at midnight on KVRL-TV and was simulcast on Houston’s KLOL-FM Radio, as well as being aired on TV and radio in Lubbock, Texas too. The show did not feature any live music or film of the band, but instead showcased the album version of Working All Day, accompanied by a psychedelic light show timed to coordinate well with the music. Obviously, the radio simulcast was just music, but featuring Giant’s music on TV and radio in this way helped cement the band’s growing name recognition in the important city of Houston, a city where they had just recently performed twice on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1. Other acts included in this half hour program were Shawn Phillips, Uriah Heep, Simon and Garfunkle, and Jade Warrior.
Houston - TV listing and opening titles for “Sensatiation” broadcast Dec. 8, 2972
Dec. 9 Leeds, England Leeds University not on the original tour schedule, but it’s believed they opened for Stray and the Groundhogs. Apparently, Badger was also on the bill on the same night.
Dec. 10 Paignton, England Festival Hall Again, this was not on the original tour schedule, but they definitely did open for Stray and the Groundhogs. A tape exists of not only Giant's set, but of all three bands. There had been an indication that Badger played there, as well, but they do not appear on the otherwise complete recording of the evening's music. GG was very well received at this gig but Stray, quite popular in England at the time, had some sort of on-stage argument, causing them to get quite a poor reception.
Paignton poster Dec. 10, 1972
Dec. 11 Wolverhampton, England Town Hall This date did not appear on the Groundhogs’ tour itinerary, but it did appear on Giant’s. The implication is that they lined up a separate gig outside of the Groundhogs tour. Complicating the issue, though, BBC records indicate they may have recorded a studio session for them in London on this same date. They could have theoretically fulfilled both commitments, but what actually transpired is far from settled. Actually, some evidence indicates that, if they did play the show in Wolverhampton, they did it without a support act.
Dec. 11 According to BBC records, the band did
their sixth BBC studio session on this date, the last one to include Phil. It was recorded at
Dec. 14 The group's sixth BBC session was broadcast on Top Gear, hosted by John Peel, along with sessions by Babe Ruth, Holy Mackeral and Ten Years After.
Dec. 14 Chatham, England Central Hall The Groundhogs were originally scheduled to play this show by themselves, but it does seem fairly certain now that Giant did indeed end up appearing in support. Neither Stray nor Badger performed.
Dec. 22 London, England Rainbow Theatre Giant opened for the Groundhogs at this 2500 seat theatre, but the remainder of the bill is uncertain, due to conflicting advertisements. Separate ads for this show differed as to whether Stray was scheduled to perform, while one ad mentioned an act called Mister Crisp preceding Giant. Compounding the uncertainty, one fan at the show still retains his written notes from the concert and they do not mention either Stray or Mister Crisp, nor did a review in a London college newspaper. The Rainbow advertised this concert as a "Christmas Special" and, indeed, the character of “Father Christmas” made an appearance to kick off the festivities. The show may have been originally scheduled for Dec. 20, although tickets did have the correct Dec. 22 date.
Ad - London’s Rainbow Theatre Dec. 22, 1972
In the second half of December, Giant reserved studio time to record their fifth album, only four months after recording OCTOPUS. The exact schedule was for them to be recording between Dec. 18, 1972 and Jan. 3, 1973. Although an article in Melody Maker hints that some small amount of recording may have indeed taken place, it seems that no serious recording was done. Instead, at the tail end of December 1972, Giant embarked on a tour of Italy. This end of year tour was announced in Melody Maker as running from Dec. 28 through Jan. 15. However, Musica e Dischi reported in their January 1973 issue that the dates of this tour were Dec. 29 through Jan. 7. Italy was a country they had wanted to play in for a long time. It’s unclear if they managed many gigs there at all over the summer, as they had originally intended. Then there were hints of appearing there in September and, of course, there was the canceled tour in October described above, so they must have been relieved when a scheduled tour finally looked set to go ahead without a hitch. Unfortunately, a giant hitch was about to appear, as this would be Phil's last tour with the band.
TYPICAL SETLIST (Dec. 1972 - Jan. 1973)
Nothing at All
The Advent of Panurge - This song, which included a recorder quartet in the middle, was known to be added to the set, making this the only tour on which Phil’s participation in live OCTOPUS material can be verified.
Plain Truth - It was around this time that Ray's violin solos started to become longer and a bit wilder.
Mister Class and Quality?/Peel the Paint - This combination of two songs from THREE FRIENDS was the band’s first attempt to connect songs into mini-medleys. On future tours, this became a common occurrence.
Dec. 29 Pordenone, Italy Salone della Fiera The Italian band Area opened this and all the following Italian gigs of this tour.
Dec. 30 Bologna, Italy Palazzo dello Sport Area was the opening band. A tape exists of this gig.
Jan. 2 Genova, Italy Teatro Alcione There was an afternoon and an evening set. An existing tape of one of these performances shows Phil playing OCTOPUS material, though it’s not known which set was recorded. Area was the opening band.
Genova poster Jan. 2, 1973
Jan. 3 Rome, Italy Palazzo dello Sport A rumor has it that a tape may exist of this concert, but it is probably false. Area was the opening band and L’Unita reported 10,000 in attendance.
Rome Jan. 3, 1973
Jan. 4 Milan, Italy Palalido Area was the opening band. The local Milan newspaper reported that about 1,000 fans battled police outside the venue in an attempt to gain admittance to the concert for free. This type of civil unrest at Italian rock concerts became quite common as the 1970’s progressed. John’s recollection is that this was the gig at which Phil announced he was leaving. Derek and Ray considered disbanding the group but were talked out of it.
Jan. 5 Vicenza, Italy Palazzo dello Sport A tape exists for this gig, at which Area opened. A fan at the show recalls Giant being enthusiastically received but Phil had a small bit of trouble with his trumpet part on The Advent of Panurge.
Jan. 6 Cavallermaggio, Italy Le Cupole Area was the opening band. Several minutes of silent color 8mm film of this concert have recently been unearthed.
Cavallermaggio ad Jan. 6, 1972
Jan. 17 Frankfurt, Germany Jahrhunderthalle A poster exists which advertised GG's scheduled inclusion in this Frankfurt rock festival entitled "The Sound of Britain in Concert". Others on the bill at this sold out show included Steeleye Span, Amazing Blondel and Alexis Korner. However, GG did not appear and was replaced by Genesis, a band not originally scheduled. It was said at the time that a member of Giant was ill but, since Phil Shulman left the band after the Italian tour, that most likely explained Giant’s cancellation.
Frankfurt poster - canceled festival gig Jan. 17, 1973
? OCTOPUS was released in
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