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Gentle Giant Tour History
*** Part Four ***
*** Back to North America ***
(late 1974 - mid 1975)
new information will be in RED
Finally, after a series of aborted tour plans and over sixteen months away from North America, Giant returned there in the fall of 1974. The band pieced together a tour with very little help from their management, as their relationship with WWA had continued to deteriorate, but these long-awaited concerts went over quite well. Additionally, they found that album sales in the United States were, by this time, fairly brisk and improving all the time. Because of these factors, they decided to add more gigs as they went along, sometimes as a support act and sometimes as a headliner. Since this tour ended up being extended quite a bit longer than expected, touring plans for later in the year had to be rethought. They had planned a UK tour, supported by the band Snafu, beginning at the Plymouth Guildhall on October 31, followed by a swing through Europe, but the European schedule was shortened considerably, while the UK tour was postponed until December.
TYPICAL SETLIST (Fall 1974)
Excerpts from Octopus
Nothing at All - The glockenspiels remained, but Shortnin' Bread was no longer played.
In a Glass House
Their setlist remained relatively unchanged, except that Prologue was again dropped, this time for good. Songs from their new album, THE POWER AND THE GLORY, strangely only rarely appeared in their live shows at this time. Even though the album had just been released, it was the band's feeling that they would be better off promoting the earlier albums. Capitol Records, their American label, was not at all happy about this decision.
Oct. 7 Cleveland, Ohio Agora Ballroom
CANCELED. Multiple news sources confirm that Giant was scheduled to play at this popular Cleveland club on this date, but it did not happen, Harvey Mandel and Larry Coryell being booked as replacements. The group did play at the Allen Theater in Cleveland on Oct. 18, however, and finally made it to the Agora on Jan 27, 1975.
Oct. 8 Denver, Colorado Denver Coliseum
On this first date of the US tour, GG opened for Traffic. Some online sources list a date of Oct. 7 for this gig, but that is incorrect. Giant went over quite well and the Denver College newspaper The Catalyst gave a glowing review of their hour-long opening set, despite pointing out the noisy crowd and a somewhat mushy sound system. Another press report also pointed out the woefully inadequate sound in the Coliseum which plagued both bands at this gig. A third review pointed out that Giant’s set was actually louder than that of the headliners. It also included the curious claim that John, during the Nothing at All drum bash, “ran around the stage playing a police whistle, a cowbell and a tambourine”. For their part, the band was encouraged by the good reception they received. In late September, GG was advertised as planning to also play a Denver club called Ebbets Field in October, but there’s no indication this went ahead. The group did, however, play Ebbets Field in February 1975.
Denver - first gig back in North America Oct. 8, 1974
Oct. 9 Columbus, Ohio Agora Ballroom
CANCELED. As was the case with the Cleveland Agora gig scheduled two days earlier, this show at the Columbus Agora was also planned and advertised at one point, only to be ultimately canceled. There is no doubt Giant played West Hollywood on Oct. 9, as described below, appearing at the Columbus Agora on Oct. 21.
Oct. 9 West Hollywood, California Whisky A-Go-Go
This was only the second date of the tour, but it was the first of five straight sellout nights at this popular 500 seat nightclub in greater Los Angeles. The band was rapturously received. Because of this, ticket prices were raised for the remaining evenings. The band’s success here is particularly ironic, considering they did not even want to play at this club at all, finally being talked into it by their manager. Derek complained in a review that the stage was too cramped for their “elaborate stage show”. This run of shows at the Whisky is legendary among Gentle Giant fans and is viewed as a turning point in their success in America. People started to line up for tickets hours ahead of time and each night, the club had to turn away hundreds of disappointed fans. In fact, on this first night, police squads had to help dispel the crowds outside the club. The band themselves were quite stunned by the reception, but their success at this club ended up getting them more headlining engagements over the next couple months. Ex-Canned Heat guitarist Harvey Mandel was the opening act on this night, as he was at all these Whisky shows. He led a rather heavy sounding four-piece group which included a violin. A tape of this night’s gig exists.
West Hollywood - five nights in a row at the Whisky Oct. 1974
Oct. 10 While in the Los Angeles area for their run of shows at the Whisky, the group was filmed live for the ABC Wide World In Concert TV program. Filming took place at Los Angeles’ Aquarius Theater, not at the Long Beach Auditorium, as often stated. The band’s entire short set consisted of Experience, Excerpts from Octopus and Funny Ways. There were tuning problems at the beginning of Funny Ways, causing the group to stop and start over. The whole performance was filmed, though only Excerpts from Octopus actually appeared on TV when it was broadcast on Jan. 3, 1975. The entire three-song set has now been officially released as part of the GIANT ON THE BOX DVD, although the DVD liner notes mistakenly list the set as being filmed at the Terrace Theater in nearby Long Beach in early 1975. The Terrace Theater did not open for business until 1978 and was actually a rebuilt, remodeled venue built on the same site as the Long Beach Auditorium which had been torn down sometime in 1975.
Oct. 10 West Hollywood, California Whisky A-Go-Go
Harvey Mandel opened.
Oct. 11 West Hollywood, California Whisky A-Go-Go
Harvey Mandel opened.
Oct. 12 West Hollywood, California Whisky A-Go-Go
They played two shows on this date. Harvey Mandel opened both.
Oct. 13 West Hollywood, California Whisky A-Go-Go
They again played two shows. Harvey Mandel opened both. At one or both of the shows on this night, the band played two songs from the new album, probably Cogs In Cogs and Proclamation. They had been practicing these two songs in soundchecks, but this may have been the only time the songs were actually performed in front of an audience prior to the European tour in late November. After the band’s extremely successful run of shows at the Whisky, Capitol responded by ordering that 30,000 more copies of their current THE POWER AND THE GLORY album be pressed. Some online sources state that Giant was originally scheduled to open for the Mahavishnu Orchestra on this night at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, but canceled due to illness. This may or may not have been the plan at first, but Giant definitely ended up playing the Whisky and they definitely were not ill.
At this time, the band took a brief vacation in San Francisco, California before heading East to continue their U.S. tour.
Oct. 14 The BBC rebroadcast a Gentle Giant studio session, probably the one from July 1, on Sounds of the Seventies, presented by Bob Harris. The program also included sessions by Mike D’Abo and Beckett.
Oct. 17 Milwaukee, Wisconsin Riverside Theater
Giant played first, followed by Aerosmith and headliners Golden Earring in a packed house of about 2,400 people. The Milwaukee Sentinel had kind words for GG and Golden Earring but totally dismissed Aerosmith, saying they were “loud and little else”.
Milwaukee ads Oct. 17, 1974
Oct. 18 Cleveland, Ohio Allen Theater
again opened for Golden Earring. During the afternoon before the concert, the band did an in-store promotional appearance at a nearby record store called Record Revolution. Unfortunately, it seems the turnout to meet the band was minimal, perhaps because it was a Friday and many were at school or work. An employee at the store also points out that promotion for the appearance was minimal. As was tradition at the store, GG signed their name to a wall of visiting bands. This same employee recalls the handwriting being sloppy, resulting in some jokingly referring to the group thereafter as “General Grant”.
Oct. 19 Marietta, Ohio Marietta College
Giant opened for Quicksilver in the college gymnasium as part of the college’s 1974 Homecoming activities. Supposedly, a large percentage of the crowd left during Quicksilver’s set. A tape is rumored to exist of Giant’s set. The band also got a few color photographs in the college’s yearbook.
Marietta - college yearbook page Oct. 19, 1974
Oct. 19 Gentle Giant appeared on the Swiss music television program Kaleidos-Pop. It’s not known what their appearance entailed but they shared the program with Alain Berceville, Bert Jansch and the Swiss band TEA.
Oct. 20 Youngstown, Ohio Tomorrow Club
played two shows, opening for Focus. The first, at 2:00 P.M. was open to all ages, while the late show at 9:00 P.M. was only for those over 18. This venue had been a movie theater called the State Theater until its closure in 1970. It was unoccupied until this very date when it reopened as the Tomorrow Club with this being the first concert event presented there. There was a report that a male dancer followed by a gospel group actually went on stage first, before Giant and Focus, but this has not been confirmed. One online Focus source also places these same two bands at the State Theater back on March 12, 1973 but, as stated above, that theater was strictly for movies and was closed in 1973.
Youngstown ad Oct. 20, 1974
Oct. 21 Columbus, Ohio Agora Ballroom
opened for Focus. Ticket sales were not very good for this show, resulting in the promoter lowering the prices.
Columbus ad Oct. 21, 1974
Oct. 22 Chicago, Illinois Auditorium Theater
This venue was a converted opera house and boasted superior acoustics. GG opened for J. Geils and it’s been said that a large percentage of the audience left before the headliners played. The afternoon of this gig, Derek, Ray and Kerry were interviewed by Chicago’s WXFM Radio.
Chicago Oct. 22, 1974
Oct. 23 Parsippany, New Jersey A Joint In The Woods
This club was located, literally, way out in the woods, away from everything, a fact which may have contributed to the rather small size of the crowd. The audience stood on an empty dance floor, with no tables or chairs, making for a very intimate concert experience. The group is known to have, once again, played Cogs in Cogs and Proclamation in their soundcheck, though not during the actual concert. Supposedly, the opening act, a band called Joe’s Bar and Grill, was somewhat frustrated by the hard time given them by the impatient audience. The frugality of the travel budget Giant allowed themselves on this tour is evidenced by the fact that they showed up at the club on this night, not in a limousine, but in a rented station wagon. A tape of this gig exists.
Parsippany ad Oct. 23, 1974
Oct. 24 Northampton, Pennsylvania Roxy Theatre
UNCONFIRMED. This gig may have been planned at one point, but it probably was scrapped. Some early promotional material from Capitol Records listed an Oct. 24 date at this very small theater, but other material did not. Then, in its Oct. 19 issue, a nearby college newspaper instead advertised Melissa Manchester as playing at the Roxy on Oct. 24. Giant did finally make it to Northampton on August 25, 1975.
Oct. 25 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Carnegie-Mellon University - CMU Gym
The band opened for Chick Corea’s Return to Forever. The concert was part of the school’s Homecoming celebration and was held in a gymnasium with everyone sitting on a large mat on the floor. As is not uncommon for gymnasium concerts, the sound at this show is said to have been a bit boomy.
Pittsburgh ad and yearbook photo Oct. 25, 1974
Oct. 26 Lawrenceville, New Jersey Rider College - Alumni Gymnasium
Originally, GG was scheduled, along with Dr. John, to open for J. Geils at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on this date. However, that gig was canceled one week before showtime, J. Geils rescheduling their appearance for Dec. 21, when Manfred Mann and Alex Harvey served as openers. This freed up the Oct. 26 date for Giant who were now able to play this homecoming gig at a small college outside of Trenton, where they opened for Dave Mason at a reasonable cost to the college. Reportedly, Mason’s ticket sales had been slow but picked up considerably when GG was added to the bill, resulting in a packed house. This was all fortunate for the college as they had been having financial difficulties and considered sponsoring no more concerts if this gig did poorly. At the start of the band’s set, Derek annoyed some in the audience by stating it was “great to be in Pennsylvania”, although the show was actually taking place in the state of New Jersey. Still, GG was well received, even though they suffered through terrible acoustics in the gym. However, Mason seemed a bit on edge most of the evening and this caused an uncomfortable situation with his opening act. A couple local student newspapers reported that Mason had the lights turned up early in an attempt to shut Giant down. One newspaper report had this happening 50 minutes into their set, while another claimed Giant went fifteen minutes over their allotted one-hour time slot. Whatever the specifics, this angered some members of Giant who were quoted as uttering the phrases “professional jealousy” and “childsplay”. Mason himself was then said to have been very agitated on stage, while rushing through his own set. The reasons for his agitation were not clear at the time, but the student in charge of booking the concerts at the college has now come forward and offered an explanation. It turns out Mason was scheduled to have a filmed segment aired on the Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert TV program that very evening and he was anxious to not miss the broadcast, especially as he was to be the show’s featured performer. The student concert committee graciously secured a television in one of the college’s fraternities so he could watch the program in private immediately after the concert, a gesture for which Mason was very appreciative.
Ads for canceled Philadelphia show and added Lawrenceville show Oct. 26, 1974
Oct. 28 Detroit, Michigan Ford Auditorium
GG, along with John Martyn, opened for John Sebastian. Oddly, GG played in Detroit again just one week later on Nov. 4.
Detroit ad Oct. 28, 1974
Oct. 29 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Farm Show Arena
opened for Frank Zappa, as confirmed by a newspaper ad, a backstage pass and two attendees at the show. Some in attendance expected John McLaughlin to also be on the bill. This was just a rumor that circulated at the time and McLaughlin was definitely not there. It was a pretty full house with somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000 people present. Giant was well received by the Zappa fans, as might be expected. The Farm Show Arena, as can be surmised by its name, was not much more than a big barn, with dirt floors and terrible acoustics. At one point, the sound man was asked why he was using so much echo, to which he replied that he was using none at all. This was an added date, not on the original schedule, and was presented by Electric Factory Concerts, one of the biggest concert promotion firms on the east coast. John, who was a big Zappa fan and had been looking forward to this show, described the Arena as a “rodeo hall” and was so upset by the poor acoustics that he refused to listen to Zappa’s set.
Harrisburg ad and backstage pass - opened for Frank Zappa Oct. 29, 1974
Oct. 31 Springfield, Massachusetts Julia Sanderson Theatre
This venue was originally a vaudeville theater known as the Paramount Theater but converted to a 2,600 seat concert hall in 1973, changing its name at the same time in tribute to a well-known actress from Springfield. It’s now a dance club known as the Hippodrome. GG was preceded by John Martyn, both opening for headliners Focus. Being Halloween night, the crowd was rather festive, with a number of spectators in costume. Giant decided this would be a good night for a bit of holiday theatrics, as well. When the pre-recorded bit after The Runaway began, Kerry disappeared underneath the stage, seating himself at the theater’s built in Wurlitzer organ. He was for a time totally in the dark, struggling to find his place on the instrument, until he finally rose out of the pit, lit by spotlight, at which time he launched into the keyboard intro to Experience. The band played their parts somewhat quietly so as not to drown out the Wurlitzer. When they reached a section of the song requiring just bass and drums, they added a few extra measures to give Kerry enough time to return to his spot on stage so he could continue the show, now out of breath. Throughout it all, to complete the effect, he was wearing a cape. It did take some cajoling to get Kerry to agree to this stunt, but the audience responded with deafening applause as he rejoined the rest of the band on stage. Ever the gentlemen, they had asked Focus ahead of time if they would mind this possibly upstaging activity. Graciously, Focus agreed. During the Knots portion of Excerpts from Octopus, the band got a little off on their timing. A gentle wave of sympathetic laughter rippled through the crowd and they recovered quickly. According to the Connecticut Daily Campus, the crowd was generally quite well-behaved and thoroughly enjoyed the show. This newspaper also made note of the fine acoustics in the theatre.
Nov. 1 New York, New York Academy of Music
This was a midnight concert, with a totally separate concert featuring Shawn Phillips and Quartermass taking place earlier in the evening. Quartermass appears to be a temporarily reworked version of the original British band Quatermass, spelled slightly differently, who broke up in 1971. They may not have played alone but may have simply served as Phillips’ backing band. A tape of GG’s set exists. John Martyn played first then Giant and headliners Focus, although GG and Focus both played full length sets, Giant’s clocking in at around 70 minutes. This is the first confirmed time GG played at this popular New York venue, but they returned there many times in later years. At this show, the transition tape between The Runaway and Experience played a half step sharp, for some reason. A member of the audience recalls a fan near the front screaming at Ray during his violin solo. Ray then put his instrument down and engaged in a back and forth screaming match with the fan before resuming his solo. This was actually a common occurrence during the violin solos through the years, though it is unclear how much of it was spontaneous and how much was provoked by Ray himself. After the show, as further evidence of their shoestring budget at the time, no limousine was present and the band was spotted simply walking away from the Academy, belongings in hand. A number of reviews of this gig appeared in various publications, almost universally positive, although Billboard did cite the band’s music as being “too repetitious”. A local newspaper review called the show a “giant triumph” and even indicated the band had to play three encores to please the New York audience, while a couple other reviews pointed out the multiple ovations that occurred over the course of the performance. One online source lists that this show took place on November 3 but that is wrong, another source placing Focus in Edison, New Jersey on that evening.
New York - photo from Academy of Music review Nov. 1, 1974
Nov. 2 Boston, Massachusetts Orpheum Theater
Giant played first on a triple bill here, preceding Golden Earring and headliners Black Oak Arkansas.
Nov. 2 In England, BBC 3 Radio included a segment on Gentle Giant on their Sounds Interesting radio program, along with segments on King Crimson, Harry Chapin and singer/guitarist Krysia Kocjan. It’s also known that Giant appeared on a later episode of the program on Feb. 2, 1975, during which an interview with Derek and Ray was featured. It’s not known if this Nov. 2 episode included the same interview or different content.
Nov. 4 Detroit, Michigan Cobo Hall
Like the Detroit appearance from one week earlier on Oct. 28, three bands were again on this bill, Giant playing first, Mountain in the middle, and the J. Geils Band headlining. This was apparently a late add, not appearing on Giant’s original schedule. J. Geils had played just the previous night at Cobo Hall with Mountain and Golden Earring but when tickets for that show sold out, another show was scheduled for Nov. 4. Mountain returned for this second appearance, but Golden Earring did not, Giant taking their place. J. Geils was extremely popular in Detroit and played their often, often multiple times per year, and always to rapturous fans. However, in comments made the following day, both Kerry and Gary expressed disappointment over their own band’s lukewarm acceptance by the audience, Kerry going so far as to state that Giant never enjoyed playing in Detroit. A tape of GG’s performance also exists, documenting an unusually short opening set.
Detroit ad Nov. 4, 1974
Nov. 5 Akron, Ohio Civic Theater
CANCELED. GG was booked to open for Foghat but, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Foghat was having “tour troubles”. Online Foghat sources indicate that band was out of commission for the entire beginning of November, although it is certain that they did share the bill with Giant in Flint on Nov. 6, as listed below. Confusingly, other sources have GG opening for Focus at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, Connecticut on Nov. 5 and receiving a nice reception, though that is obviously wrong. It’s known from a private telephone interview two teenage fans conducted with Kerry and Gary on this date that Giant ended up with the day off.
Akron - canceled show Nov. 5, 1974
Nov. 6 Flint, Michigan I.M.A. Auditorium
opened for Foghat before 1,790 fans. In comments made the day before with a couple young fans, Kerry expressed concerns that this pairing would not be ideal and he was proved right. Giant was heavily booed at this gig by the relatively small number of people who even bothered to watch them. When first addressing the crowd, Derek asked that they stop throwing things at the stage. In response to the poor audience behavior, Ray is said to have made "rude" sounds with his violin, directed towards the audience. A reviewer in the Flint Journal admired Giant’s talent but did admit the crowd had trouble warming up to them. A tape of the show exists as does a bit of the soundcheck. During this soundcheck, the band can be heard in a bluesy jam, as well as running through an instrumental version of Cogs In Cogs. Originally, Giant was planning to play the I.M.A. Auditorium on Oct. 30 on a bill with John Matryn and headliner John Sebastian. However, they switched to this Nov. 6 bill with Foghat. Even earlier, it had been announced that Giant was to play the Centre Culturel in Sherbrooke, Quebec on Nov. 6, but that plan did not materialize. In fact, even though rumors have surfaced now and then about Canadian GG shows in 1974, all of them are false. The band’s Fall 1974 North American concerts all took place in the U.S.A.
Flint ad Nov. 6, 1974
Nov. 7 Center Valley, Pennsylvania Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales - Billera Hall
The Allentown College venue is correct, even though a conflicting report has this gig taking place at nearby Lehigh County Community College in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. This college gig was arranged at relatively short notice and was supposed to be a triple bill with GG and the Strawbs opening for Robin Trower. However, the Strawbs canceled. One fan recalls about 250 in attendance, while another places the number higher. The attendees simply sat on the floor in front of the stage in what’s believed to have been a converted dining hall and, although Trower was the headliner, Giant was very well received. In fact, after their set, the lights came on but the crowd continued to chant “Giant! Giant! Giant!”, sadly to no avail.
Center Valley ad Nov. 7, 1974
Nov. 8 Plattsburgh, New York State University of New York at Plattsburgh
Original plans were for Giant to perform in Teaneck, New Jersey on this evening, but they played this college near the Canadian border instead, opening for the Climax Blues Band. In fact, several photos of the band appear in the college’s yearbook, where they are mislabeled as “Gentile Giant”. John’s drum solo was particularly well received by the Plattsburgh crowd and one fan alleges they played Working All Day, dedicating it to the road manager. One unofficial report puts about 200 people in the audience.
Plattsburgh - college yearbook pages and ad Nov. 8, 1974
Nov. 9 New Haven, Connecticut Yale University - Woolsey Hall
This concert was booked as part of a University charity drive and the band opened for Poco. Giant was booed for the first ten minutes of their set, but the crowd ended up giving them a standing ovation by the end. Then, after the show, the members of Giant were interviewed on the Yale University radio station. Poco recorded their set and one song from this night may have ended up on their 1976 Live album.
New Haven ad Nov. 9, 1974
Nov. 10 Baltimore, Maryland Johns Hopkins University - Newton White Athletic Center
GG opened for Robin Trower. By the beginning of November, Giant’s participation had not yet been confirmed, but they did play and were well received. Several days before the concert, a vague bomb threat was phoned in to the Athletic Center, putting the concert in doubt. However, local police deemed it not to be a credible threat and the show went on as planned. The University did increase security for the concert and police searched the building the day of the show, just to be safe. Due to these events, ticket sales started a bit sluggish but, in the end, the 2,300-seat facility was sold-out. New Riders of the Purple Sage at one time planned to be part of this bill, but they ended up playing at the University on Dec. 8.
Baltimore ad Nov. 10, 1974
??? Buffalo, New York New Century Theatre
UNCONFIRMED. A report has Nektar opening for Giant here in 1974.
??? Upper Darby, Pennsylvania Tower Theater
UNCONFIRMED. There are a couple reports that Giant opened here for Focus in 1974, although one Focus source gives a date of November 9, 1973. That is most certainly incorrect.
??? North Branch, New Jersey Somerset County Community College
UNCONFIRMED. There are two fan reports of Giant playing in the gymnasium at this college. One has GG opening for Robin Trower. The other has GG opening for Caravan. Late 1974 and late 1975 have both been presented as possible time periods, but Trower and Caravan tour date sources both make late 1974 more likely. No documentation of a gig at this college has been located but at least some agreement can be found between the two reports, as both fans complained about less than ideal acoustics.
Nov. 15 Knoxville, Tennessee Knoxville Civic Coliseum
This was a festival seating gig at which Giant opened for John Sebastian and headliner Dave Mason.
Knoxville ad Nov. 15, 1974
Nov. 17 Memphis, Tennessee Ellis Auditorium North Hall
This show was mentioned in the press as being the final date of the extended North American tour. A couple pieces of evidence place Giant as the support act for Dave Mason, but advertising in the Memphis Commercial Appeal listed the Souther, Hillman, Furay Band as openers. Giant may have been an additional, unmentioned part of the bill. One fan at the show definitely recalls seeing Giant at the gig, but remembers no other details. Attendance for the evening was reported at 3,800.
Upon returning to Europe, the group finally began regularly including songs from THE POWER AND THE GLORY in their live stage show. However, they ended up spending relatively little time in Europe, because of the unexpected extension of their tour in the US. Six shows were, at one time, slated for Switzerland, then shortened to four, but it appears that only three actually took place. Gigs in Italy were originally planned for Nov. 20 - Nov. 30, then that tour was shortened as well, with as few as three gigs actually taking place. It’s believed, though not yet confirmed, that a show was scheduled for the Olympen in Lund, Sweden with support from String Driven Thing, the same band that had supported Giant at many shows earlier in the year, but this Fall concert was canceled. One newspaper account implied the group may have even planned to return to America for a short spell at the end of the year, after their time in Europe, though this did not happen either.
TYPICAL SETLIST (late 1974)
Intro/Cogs in Cogs - A brief pre-recorded edit of the album version of the song Giant was used as an intro. This opening tape was actually fashioned from two different snippets of the original song segued together.
Excerpts from Octopus - The recorder quartet included a brief bit of Raconteur, Troubadour instead of Yankee Doodle for only this minor European tour.
Nothing at All
Mister Class and Quality?/Peel the Paint - a slightly different arrangement than was used at some early 1973 gigs. Gary's guitar solo now found a home in Peel the Paint. The "breaking glass" tape loop was now faded out at the end of this, as an outro.
Most notable at this time is the band's ever-increasing fascination with combining songs or portions of songs into mini-medleys. This would continue into future tours.
Nov. 21 Basel, Switzerland Stadtcasino
A tape of this concert exists. It’s been said that on this night, John was seen walking across the stage with bells attached to his ankle.
Basel ticket Nov. 21, 1974
Nov. 22 St. Gallen, Switzerland Kongresshaus Schützengarten
A complete tape of this concert exists. It was held in private hands for many years but now most of it, though not all of it, has been released officially in the UNBURIED TREASURE boxset.
Nov. 23 Ascona, Switzerland Palestra Scolastica
Ascona is a beautiful small Swiss town on Lake Maggiore, Palestra Scolastica referring to the sports hall or gymnasium of the local school. This concert was organized by Suzy Strauss of the one woman Ascona concert agency known as SU 71. It was thought that the Italian band Arti e Mestieri served as the opening act, but none of the press related to this gig mentions anyone else on the bill, nor do any of several fans in attendance recall an opener. However, one press report does mention there were a number of people gathered outside the hall protesting the commercialization of pop music, specifically the charging of admission. This was an extension of the anti-capitalism sentiments common at the time in nearby Italy.
Ascona - notice about upcoming show Nov. 23, 1974
Nov. 25 Bologna, Italy Palazzo dello Sport
opening act was Arti e Mestieri. A couple sources agree that attendance was sparse, about 2,000 out of a capacity of 7,000.
Nov. 26 A short film clip of the band appeared on British television on BBC 2’s Old Grey Whistle Test program, alongside the episode’s other attractions, the Pretty Things, Jackie Lynton’s Grande, and Can. Giant’s contribution to the show was the second half of Excerpts from Octopus shot at London's Drury Lane on March 16. The clip has now been released officially in video and audio form on the GG AT THE GG DVD.
Complete lineup of Old Grey Whistle Test episode Nov. 26, 1974
Nov. 26 Rome, Italy Palazzo dello Sport
opening act was Arti e Mestieri. A reviewer in Ciao 2001 pointed out the poor acoustics in the hall, as well as the presence of some noisy, unruly elements in the crowd. This same reviewer was kind to Arti e Mestieri but seemed disappointed with GG’s set, an unusual occurrence in a magazine noted for championing the band in the past. The magazine Nuovo Sound published a similarly lukewarm review, while voicing surprise that the audience wasn’t bigger. A couple other sources indicated the size of the crowd to be between 6,000 and 7,000. The venue for this show is often listed as Palaeur which was a commonly used nickname for the same location. It was a large circular hall built on a hill. In 2000, a soundboard recording of the majority of this show became the first in the series of official Glass House releases, appearing on a CD entitled LIVE IN ROME. An audience recording of the same show also exists but it is complete, containing some material not on the soundboard recording. Nuovo Sound claimed in its review that GG played Working All Day as an encore, but they were probably incorrect.
Rome ticket Nov. 26, 1974
Nov. 27 Italy Palazzo dello Sport
UNCONFIRMED. The exact location of this planned concert has not been determined. The show, with Arti e Mestieri in support, was advertised for the Palazzo dello Sport in Udine with a note that it may end up in Brescia instead at that city’s own Palazzo dello Sport. To date, it’s not been confirmed that any gig at all actually took place. A member of Arti e Mestieri states that the two bands only played three gigs together, most likely Bologna, Rome and Torino.
Nov. 28 Torino, Italy Palazzo dello Sport
opening act was Arti e Mestieri. Upon first welcoming the audience, Derek mentions the city’s famous football club, Juventus, and elicits applause from many in the crowd. Unfortunately, the city’s other football club, the Torino club, was not mentioned, thereby upsetting others in the crowd. It seems fans of the two teams have a very rocky relationship. A member of Arti e Mestieri recalls that some segments of the audiences at this and the other 1974 Italian shows were unkind to GG, believing them to be money grubbing capitalists. Understandably, he claims Giant did not particularly enjoy this Italian mini-tour. Derek himself confirmed this in a Ciao 2001 article at the time, presenting it as a contributing factor in the band’s decision to cut their time in Italy short. This was a common sentiment among Italian rock audiences at the time but GG had, in the past, been treated more forgivingly than had many other bands. That was not the case on this tour. A tape exists of this concert.
Nov. 29 Genova, Italy Teatro Genova
CANCELED. Two shows were scheduled for Genova, with some sort of transportation problem as the reason given for the last minute cancelation. The opening act was supposed to be Arti e Mestieri.
??? Modena, Italy Teatro Storchi
UNCONFIRMED. No written documentation has been found proving this gig. However, it cannot be completely discounted as two separate fans seem to recall it, although only one recalls the specific venue. This fan also stated the audience responded better to the older tunes than to the newer ones.
As stated above, the band rescheduled their October-November 1974 tour of Great Britain for the month of December, with Joe Brown's Home Brew planned as the opening act. They even intended to record some of the dates for a possible future live album release. However, this second attempt at a tour of the UK ultimately had to be canceled, as well. There are differing reports as to why. The primary reason given to the press was that Derek developed a severe stomach ulcer. Although possibly true, it seems there may have been more to the story. John and Kerry have both claimed that management problems also played a part, logical when considering that Giant’s relationship with WWA had by now completely broken down. Listed below is the originally planned December tour itinerary.
Second cancellation of UK tour Dec. 1974
Dec. 5 Sheffield, England City Hall
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open.
Dec. 6 Leeds, England Town Hall
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open.
Ad for canceled Leeds show Dec. 6, 1974
Dec. 7 Norwich, England University of East Anglia
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open. Although sponsored by the University of East Anglia’s Student Union, this show may very well have been booked at a different, presumably smaller, Norwich college simply known as City College.
Dec. 8 Birmingham, England Town Hall
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open.
Dec. 9 Manchester, England Free Trade Hall
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open.
Dec. 10 Stoke on Trent, England The Heavy Steam Machine
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open.
Dec. 10 In London, the band did their tenth BBC studio session, broadcast on Dec. 17. Derek was obviously well enough to fulfill this one commitment, although it was the band’s only performance that month. The studio used for this recording of Proclamation, Experience, Aspirations and Cogs In Cogs, is unknown. This entire session appears on the OUT OF THE WOODS and TOTALLY OUT OF THE WOODS albums.
Dec. 11 Glasgow, Scotland Apollo Centre
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open.
Glasgow ad announcing cancellation Dec. 11, 1974
Dec. 12 Liverpool, England Royal Court Theatre
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open.
Dec. 13 Newcastle, England City Hall
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open.
Newcastle ad and cancellation notice Dec. 13, 1974
Dec. 14 Edinburgh, Scotland Usher Hall
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open.
Dec. 16 Bristol, England Colston Hall
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open.
Dec. 17 The band's tenth BBC session from Dec. 10 was broadcast on Sounds of the Seventies, hosted by John Peel. Other sessions by other artists appearing on this program are not known.
Dec. 18 Redruth, England Regal Cinema
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open.
Dec. 19 Plymouth, England Guildhall
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open.
Plymouth ad - canceled show Dec. 19, 1974
Dec. 22 London, England Rainbow Theatre
CANCELED. Joe Brown’s Home Brew was supposed to open. Even though the rest of the tour had been canceled, the group had still hoped to play in London as a one-off performance, first planning it for Dec. 20, then moving it to Dec. 22. However, it too was finally canceled just a few days beforehand. The report circulated at the time was that Derek’s throat condition had actually worsened and was compounded by a sugar deficiency. This had originally been advertised as the group’s London premiere of their THE POWER AND THE GLORY album.
London ad - canceled at last minute Dec. 22, 1974
Dec. ? ACQUIRING THE TASTE, which had seen limited release in America by Mercury Records in July 1971, long before the band ever set foot in that country, received a proper re-release, again by Mercury, in late December, this time being given more widespread distribution. Some evidence indicated this may have been pushed back all the way to April 1975 and, although that is possible, it seems less likely.
Article on ACQUIRING THE TASTE US re-release Dec. 1974
Things came to a head around this time as Gentle Giant decided it was time to end their rocky relationship with WWA. They approached Terry Ellis of Chrysalis about his company taking them on. Ellis agreed so Giant officially left WWA, although it cost them 90,000 pounds to buy out their contract. Not only did WWA no longer manage the band, but Giant also ended the contract with their recording division WWA Records, Chrysalis becoming their new UK record label. The band remained with Chrysalis for management and recording for the remainder of their career.
Jan. 3 The ABC Wide World In Concert TV program, filmed on October 10, 1974, was broadcast. Excerpts from Octopus was shown, though more was performed and filmed. Also appearing on the program were the Climax Blues Band, the Isley Brothers and the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band. The show was also simulcast in various other cities on FM radio stations affiliated with the ABC network. The audio broadcast was released on the Glass House CD IN A PALASPORT HOUSE in 2001. It’s also possible some of this material was later broadcast on the BBC In Concert radio program, but when that was is not known.
Newspaper notices of ABC Wide World In Concert TV broadcast Jan. 3, 1975
Jan. ? At some point between January 6 and January 9, a live studio concert was filmed in Brussels, Belgium for a German television program called Sonntagskonzert. This was a show that normally featured classical performances, but ran a series of shows on rock bands that displayed classical influences. There had been great confusion as to the actual date of filming with some evidence originally pointing to October 1974. However, the correct timeframe has now been confirmed by the program’s audio engineer whose own records show that work on this project took place during the aforementioned four dates in early January of 1975. Further corroboration comes from a Dutch newspaper article which states that immediately after filming, the band flew to North America to begin their tour there. Sure enough, the North American tour started on January 14. Even more convincing is the fact that the film clearly shows the band playing their early 1975 setlist while standing in front of their early 1975 stage set and wearing their early 1975 stage clothing. The band traveled to Belgium specifically for this project. The performance was filmed on high quality 35mm film with five cameras and audio recorded on a brand new 16 track machine in a spacious Brussels studio called Studio Mathonet. Only a small number of people were in attendance in the studio that day, so they all called friends in order to round up a more reasonably sized audience for filming. It was eventually broadcast on Aug. 10, 1975.
Jan. ? Immediately after leaving Belgium and returning home to England, Ray and Derek were interviewed by a Denver, Colorado radio program director named Jeff Pollack. Pollack was working at a commercial station in Denver but took a few weeks over the Christmas holiday period to travel to England to interview some British bands, hoping to present a series of these interviews on his station. This idea seems to have not worked out on the commercial station, but the Ray and Derek interviews did eventually air as part of a series called “English Musicians” on the University of Denver’s college radio station KCFR, the station where Pollack had gained his early experiences in radio. The original tapes of these interviews have recently surfaced again and excerpts have been released online in 2021 by the band themselves.
Giant again toured quite heavily as 1975 rolled around, beginning in North America and then, by summer, returning to Europe. As was the case with the late 1974 U.S. tour, the dates on this swing through North America in early 1975 were sometimes changed and rearranged frequently as the days and weeks went by. This year, they did manage to gain quite a bit of public exposure through an increased number of live radio and television appearances. Their itinerary also included a few more successful eastern Canadian dates. By this time, promoter Donald Tarlton was booking the band in that country. He claimed that Montreal, in particular, was a North American springboard for Giant and other progressive bands, and he openly took pride in his role in that.
TYPICAL SETLIST (Early - Mid 1975)
Intro/Cogs in Cogs - The pre-recorded edit of the album version of the song Giant was still used as an intro.
Excerpts from Octopus - Yankee Doodle was returned to its place during the recorder quartet.
So Sincere - another new addition to the set drawn from the new album. A full 5-man “drum bash” was now performed as part of this song. During the glockenspiel section of this, the stage lights would turn off, revealing strobe lights and twinkling white lights.
Mister Class and Quality?/Peel the Paint/Valedictory - Gary's guitar solo was again a part of Peel the Paint. Once more, as an outro, the band faded out the "breaking glass" tape loop.
This was the time when Nothing at All, a staple of their shows since 1970, was finally retired. John said in 1977 that the band attempted to perform Playing the Game briefly in 1975, but it isn't known exactly when during the year this happened. The song was considered unsuccessful and was quickly dropped, but it resurfaced starting in early 1977.
Jan. 14 Montreal, Quebec Montreal Forum
A band named Maneige opened the show. It is illustrative of how well-respected Gentle Giant had become in Canada that they were able to play in a venue as large as this one. However, although total capacity of the Forum was 20,000, it’s estimated that no more than 10,000 attended this concert, with one press report listing attendance as 7,000. As was the case with all the Canadian stops on this tour, reviews for this show were extremely positive, with the exception of the Montreal Gazette which gave GG a terrible review. Their write-up included the curious statement that Giant “sound like everyone and have no distinctive sound of their own”. They did, however, express admiration that the band had enough humility to rear project the word “pretentious” above themselves at the start of the show, a new trick they began employing around this time. Although not directly related to the concert, three people were unfortunately stabbed in separate incidents outside the venue, one a 17-year-old boy scalping tickets to the show. The Feb. 8 issue of Billboard reported that, while in Montreal, the band recorded a live-in-the-studio special for the city’s CHOM radio. The whereabouts of this recording today, if it still exists at all, are sadly unknown.
Montreal - article about live-in-the-studio recording Jan. 14, 1975
Jan. 15 Ottawa, Ontario Lansdown Park - Civic Centre Arena
Bluesman John Lee Hooker opened this concert. The venue, a hockey arena, seated 5,000 - 7,000 people, but about 4,000 were actually in attendance. During the show, Derek jokingly introduced himself as Robert Plant, while shaking his microphone stand hard. He used this gimmick of incorrectly identifying himself many times through the years, usually giving the audience a nice laugh. An Ottawa Citizen newspaper review singled out Funny Ways as a particular highlight, but incorrectly identified it as Strange Ways. Not to be outdone, a reviewer in the Carleton University student newspaper The Charlatan gushed that Giant’s performance was one of the most incredible concert performances he’d ever witnessed. Sadly, this same reviewer gave terrible marks to John Lee Hooker.
Ottawa Jan. 15, 1975
Jan. 16 Sherbrooke, Quebec Centre Culturel
The scheduled opening act canceled so, at the last minute, the promoter booked the popular local folk duo of Jim Corcoran and Bertrand Gosselin as last-minute replacements. Unfortunately, Gosselin was out of town on vacation, so Corcoran contacted two other musician friends and they put together a set of American county blues music. They were fairly well-received. During one song, a fourth person joined them on stage to play a xylophone solo. It was a member of Gentle Giant, probably Kerry, but the others did not recognize him, as none of them had actually met the band and had no idea what they looked like. The most ironic thing about the whole affair was that, unbeknownst to Corcoran, his partner Gosselin had returned from vacation specifically to see this concert and was actually sitting in the audience.
Sherbrooke ad Jan. 16, 1975
Jan. 18 New York, New York Academy of Music
two sold-out shows, preceded by American Tears and followed by Alvin Lee and Company. On the marquee outside the Academy, GG’s name was misspelled as “Genlte Giant”. Evidently, there were significant time management problems at the early show. There was a lengthy delay after American Tears’ set and then when GG finally took the stage, they played a longer than expected set themselves. These factors contributed to the early show not ending until after the second show was scheduled to begin. This situation greatly upset Alvin Lee. In written correspondence with Giant’s agent on Jan. 20, Lee’s tour manager made a point of urging Giant to start on time when the two bands again appeared together at the Jan. 22 Buffalo show. Both Academy shows were recorded by King Biscuit Radio who, on Sept. 28, broadcast, in quadrophonic sound, about twenty minutes worth of music from this evening, including the song Cogs In Cogs. It had been conjectured that the broadcast was taken from the second show, but that is no longer at all certain. Most of the songs played on this evening were also released on the KING BISCUIT PRESENTS GENTLE GIANT album in 1998, but without Cogs In Cogs. Again, which performance each song came from is not clear, although it had been believed that most came from the first show. More recently, a longer set of King Biscuit material, this time approximating a nearly complete set, has surfaced, made up of all the music on the 1998 album plus a version of the missing Cogs In Cogs. As if this were not all confusing enough, this newly surfaced version of Cogs In Cogs is not the same as the one on the original radio broadcast. Ray remembers the audience was a bit less receptive during the first show. He laughingly recalls that during his violin solo at that first show, someone in the crowd yelled out "you suck!" He says he later cut out that segment from King Biscuit’s tape and placed it in a locket he still owns today. It’s presumed this solo took place, as usual, during the song Plain Truth, but no Jan. 18 recording of that tune has yet surfaced. Amazingly, the exact same thing happened at the Nov. 5, 1977 gig at the same venue, during which it’s been confirmed someone again yelled out “you suck!”
New York’s Academy of Music - ad and misspelled marquee Jan. 18, 1975
Jan. 19 Trois Rivieres, Quebec University of Quebec - Sports Center
A fan in attendance specifically remembers this concert as starting at five minutes before midnight. Apparently, the band was late due to a delay at the U.S. - Canadian border after playing in New York City the night before.
Jan. 21 Quebec City, Quebec Centre Municipal des Congress
Sloche, a Quebec area prog/jazz fusion band, was the opening act. Before the show, some trouble occurred among the overly eager crowd waiting to enter the venue. Some fans tried to force their way in and, in the process, some metal fences fell on the crowd. As people surged forward, a few fell to the ground and were in danger of being trampled. Fortunately, there were no reports of serious injuries. At one point, a second Quebec City show was added for the following night, but the band ended up playing in Buffalo instead on Jan. 22.
Quebec City ad Jan. 21, 1975
Jan. 22 Buffalo, New York Kleinhan's Music Hall
opened for Alvin Lee and Company and it’s been reported that Giant did not play an encore. Conflicting assessments of this concert exist. One audience member recalls the crowd was unmoved by Giant’s set, with the exception of two rows of rabid fans near the front. These fans screamed back and forth with Ray during his violin solo. Another remembers the Giant fans standing and cheering wildly after each song. It’s been stated that very few GG fans were even in attendance this evening and the rest of the audience, there to see Alvin Lee, reportedly gave Giant a poor reception. This would be unusual in Buffalo where the promoters, the team of Harvey and Corkey, always did a good job of publicizing GG's appearances. This particular gig, however, was promoted by a different promoter. In contrast, a local college newspaper claimed Giant won over the crowd and it was Lee who had to endure a cold reception from the crowd. The local Buffalo newspaper's own review the next day, while also unkind to Lee, was favorable of Giant and made note of the fact that many of the very vocal Giant fans left shortly into Alvin Lee's set. As stated in the New York City listing from four days earlier, Alvin Lee’s tour manager was concerned that Giant start their set on time in Buffalo, but it’s not known if they complied.
Buffalo - contract attachment from Alvin Lee’s tour manager expressing concern over GG’s punctuality Jan. 22, 1975
Jan. 23 Rochester, New York Auditorium Theater
Before a near sellout crowd, GG was preceded by American Tears and followed by Alvin Lee and Company. One fan at the gig described the audience as very “rowdy” and claimed GG “boogied” for an hour. Similarly, the Democrat and Chronicle stated in its review the next day that Giant “can boogie with the best of the rockers, and they did it last night.” The band went over well but time constraints prevented an encore.
Rochester ad Jan. 23, 1975
Jan. 24 Toronto, Ontario University of Toronto - Convocation Hall
This was a sold-out general admission show on a very cold night in a small, intimate hall seating around 1,700. The Myles and Lenny Band opened the show. A tape of Giant's performance exists which shows that Derek had problems with his microphone and monitor at the beginning. This is easily explained by the fact that their own sound system did not arrive as it was stranded in another province, necessitating the last-minute rental of a replacement system. Accordingly, the gig was quite late starting. Because of this delay, a large crowd had gathered outside the venue and eventually broke through a door and entered without ever showing their tickets. Many threw their unneeded tickets in the air on the way in, to be scooped up by fans who had never even purchased a ticket in the first place. This resulted in an overly packed hall with people standing in aisles and sitting in stairways. The tape of this show also includes one of Ray's most energetic violin solos known on any recording. Ironically, Ray was not even using his own violin this evening, as it was stolen before the show. He borrowed a violin from Lenny Solomon, a member of the opening band. In addition to the tape of the full concert, a small bit of the soundcheck exists, recorded by someone else in the crowd. On this tape, the band can be heard running through a little of So Sincere plus an instrumental version of No God’s a Man, a song never known to be played live in concert. University officials were quite concerned about reports of excessive drinking and smoking at both this gig and a Lynyrd Skynyrd gig a week later and considered banning all concerts in Convocation Hall. They only relented after the Student Activities Council agreed to only book lighter fare performances and stay away from “hard rock” shows for a while.
Toronto Jan. 24, 1975
Jan. 25 Waterloo, Ontario Wilfrid Laurier University - Theatre Auditorium
This show had a disappointing turnout. The Myles and Lenny Band opened, as they had the night before. Previously, this college was known as Waterloo Lutheran University, where Giant had played on Mar. 31, 1973. At one point during this 1975 show, Ray was seen correcting a minor lighting flub from the stage. When finished with a violin part, he noticed the spotlight was erroneously still on him so, while switching to his bass, he pursed his lips and blew puffs of air at the light operator, as if appearing to blow out a candle. The misplaced spotlight went out.
Waterloo - Gary onstage, Derek offstage and ticket Jan. 25, 1975
Jan. 26 Springfield, Massachusetts Civic Center
opened for J. Geils in this general admission gig before a crowd of 7,500. According to a fan, the crowd was quite rude to Giant, who were somewhat shaken by the experience and seemed to rush through their set. After this, the house lights came on for quite a while, since Giant finished early and J. Geils was actually late arriving at the venue, due to what the promoter called “transportation difficulties”. Gary recalls that GG and J. Geils actually got along quite well, despite their differences in musical direction.
Springfield ad Jan. 26, 1975
Jan. 27 Cleveland, Ohio Agora Ballroom
The Agora Ballroom in Cleveland was the flagship venue in a chain of Agora nightclubs located in several cities. WMMS Radio in Cleveland had started a tradition of recording many of the Monday gigs at their city’s Agora, editing them down to one hour in length and then broadcasting the hour long versions, usually two days later, on their Monday Night at the Agora program. Giant was fortunate enough to be one of the bands so recorded, their Monday, Jan. 27 concert being broadcast on Wednesday, January 29. Most, but not all, of this broadcast, sourced from an off-air recording, was released by Glass House in 2004 with the title PLAYING THE CLEVELAND. The entire broadcast, newly remastered, is now included in the 2019 UNBURIED TREASURE boxset. It’s believed that the gentleman who ran the Agora at the time still owns the master tape of this broadcast or, possibly, the entire unedited show. At the very tail end of Excerpts from Octopus, the band got off and the music nearly fell apart. Fortunately, they recovered and ended together. This wobbly moment aside, the group was well received with one press report noting that many in the audience happily sang along with the songs, thoroughly enjoying themselves. The support act at this standing room only concert was advertised as being a local area progressive band called I Don’t Care but, at the last minute, they did not appear. Instead, another local group, a fusion band called Course of the Electric Messenger, opened the show and was also well received. Giant played two more times at the Cleveland Agora in later years, plus they also graced the stages of Agora Ballrooms in Columbus, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia.
Jan. 28 Columbus, Ohio Agora Ballroom
The local band I Don’t Care was again scheduled to open and this time, they did indeed play, unlike the previous night in Cleveland. The keyboardist with that band recalls the members of GG being very personable with them. Originally, advertisements had GG set to play this venue on Feb. 2, but that was changed.
Columbus ad Jan. 28, 1975
Jan. 29 Utica, New York Memorial Auditorium
opened for J. Geils in front of between 3,500 and 3,800 fans. A tape of this show exists. As was typical at J. Geils shows, Giant had to endure a fairly noisy audience and fireworks being set off during their opening song. Still, the band ended up surprisingly well received, earning a standing ovation at the end. They returned for an encore but, by that point, many in the crowd were calling out for J. Geils. Derek later explained that, due to limited stage space in the Auditorium, they were unable to use their slide show and back projection system. This same lack of available space also forced them to abandon their full percussion setup and not perform So Sincere on this evening.
Jan. 29 The Cleveland show from Jan. 27 was broadcast on WMMS Radio in edited form as part of that station's regular Monday Night at the Agora series.
Jan. 31 Norman, Oklahoma University of Oklahoma - Field House
Three acts were on the bill, with Giant taking the stage first, Michael Martin Murphey playing second, and Alvin Lee and Company headlining. The Field House, holding perhaps a couple thousand people, was a small building underneath the larger football stadium and, in fact, Giant used the team’s locker room as their own dressing room the night of the concert. Murphey was a cowboy singer and GG was reportedly somewhat amused at the odd pairing of acts at this show. After some initial uncertainty, the audience ended up giving GG an enthusiastic welcome, with one report having the recorder quartet during Excerpts from Octopus particularly well received. Things could have turned out much differently as, earlier in the afternoon, Derek had to visit a doctor, having come down with the flu. He claimed in an interview after the concert that he actually felt worse by showtime and had a lot of trouble singing his high notes.
Norman ad Jan. 31, 1975
Feb. 1 Tulsa, Oklahoma Municipal Auditorium
opened for Alvin Lee and Company. Rolling Stone published, in one of their issues, an itinerary of Giant which erroneously placed them in Lakeland, Florida on this evening. However, this Tulsa date has been confirmed by the Texas based promotor, Stone City Attractions, who promoted three Lee/GG concerts in this time period. Throughout the 1970’s, Rolling Stone was notorious for its inaccurate information when reporting GG concert dates.
Feb. 2 St. Louis, Missouri Kiel Auditorium
Along with a country rock group called Mason Proffit, GG opened for Alvin Lee and Company. A published Alvin Lee ad gave a date of Feb. 1 at the Auditorium Theatre, but that was incorrect.
St. Louis ad Feb. 2, 1975
Feb. 2 In England, BBC 3 Radio broadcast a conversation with Derek and Ray Shulman as part of its Sounds Interesting program.
Feb. 3 Denver, Colorado Ebbets Field
The band played two nights at this small club on the ground floor of a downtown Denver building, with an official seating capacity of only 238 people. It had a small number of tables near the stage and, behind those, a combination of folding chairs and several tiers of wooden bleachers. Much of the floor, wall space and bleachers were covered in orange, black and brown shag carpet. Giant did not have an opening act at this general admission show. A reviewer for a local college newspaper praised the group’s creativity and musical ability at this performance, but ranted at length that the volume was way too loud and made the show uncomfortable. Gary was lucky enough to meet his wife Judy in the early morning hours of Feb. 4, after this gig. John did not have as much luck while in Denver, as he recently revealed he suffered some abdominal muscle issues during one of the two evenings. This caused him some discomfort, but he forged ahead and got through the show. A well-known Denver audio company, Listen Up, professionally recorded many of the Ebbets Field shows from its booth in the back, right up until the club’s closure in 1977. These shows were usually either simulcast as they happened, or the tapes were broadcast a few days later on a Denver radio station. Sadly, best evidence so far indicates this Giant show was not one of them.
Denver - two night engagement Feb. 1975
Feb. 4 Denver, Colorado Ebbets Field
Like the Ebbets Field show the night before, this was general admission and there was no opening act. Also like the previous night, this show was most likely not professionally recorded or broadcast, as so many other shows were from this club. John recently shared a story of an unfortunate medical situation he endured while at one of these Ebbets Field shows. After playing the vibraphone during On Reflection, he was running back to his drum kit and while ducking under some microphone stands, he felt a muscle pop out in his abdomen. This could have been serious, especially for a drummer, but he was fortunately able to pop the muscle back into place manually and continue the show. It is unknown whether this occurred on Feb. 3 or Feb. 4.
Feb. 6 San Diego, California Golden Hall
The Daily Aztec, which was the college newspaper of San Diego State University, claimed that GG stole the show from headliner Alvin Lee and Company. First on the bill before Giant was American Tears. 2,629 fans witnessed this sellout performance.
San Diego ad Feb. 6, 1975
Feb. 7 Long Beach, California Long Beach Arena
GIANT DID NOT PLAY. Although it was, at one point, advertised that they would play after American Tears and before Alvin Lee and Company, it was actually Flo and Eddie who occupied the middle spot on the bill. During the ABC In Concert performance filmed near Los Angeles in October 1974, Derek told the crowd that the band would be returning to Los Angeles in February. However, Derek may simply have been referring to this planned Long Beach show, or either of the Feb. 13 performances listed below. All of these were located near Los Angeles.
Feb. 8 Fresno, California Warnors Theater
opened for Alvin Lee and Company. This was the first event of the 1975 Warnors season, after the theater had undergone extensive renovations, including the addition of a new $50,000 sound system. It’s been reported by more than one attendee that quite a number of the Alvin Lee fans were skeptical of GG at first, but came around as the evening wore on. In fact, many in the crowd held up lighters while cheering wildly after Giant’s set, an indication of their desire to have the band return to the stage. The band obliged and came back for an encore, after which there was quite a long pause before the house lights finally came on. This seems to indicate the members of GG even considered a rare opening act second encore, but ultimately decided against it. Cries for Giant to come out again could even be heard partway into Alvin Lee’s set. Interestingly, Alvin Lee is known to have played additional West Coast dates immediately after this one and, since there is a hole in Giant’s known schedule for the next few days, it’s certainly possible that they could have joined Lee on at least some of them.
??? Berkeley, California Community Theater
UNCONFIRMED. There is a report from one fan that, at some point, GG played at this Berkeley venue with the band Camel in support. The only times the two bands were in America at the same time were late 1974 and early 1975. Giant’s late 1974 tour tended to concentrate on the east coast, making early 1975 a better bet. There is, as of yet, no confirmation although, supposedly, a large percentage of the crowd was there to see Camel, and therefore left before Giant took the stage.
??? Lawrenceville, New Jersey Rider College - Alumni Gymnasium
UNCONFIRMED. GG had already played this college once on Oct. 26, 1974, but after the Fall 1974 US tour ended, a New Jersey student newspaper did mention that GG was planning on playing here “soon” with a local band called Garrett is support. No other information is known.
Feb. 13 In Los Angeles, California's Capitol Studios, Gentle Giant made a live studio recording, with no audience, meant for broadcast two days later over the city’s KMET Radio. It included much of the material they were performing on stage during their early 1975 tour. The group even recorded a brief musical jingle based on the radio station’s call letters, which, during the broadcast, served as KMET’s station identification. This jingle has been officially released on SCRAPING THE BARREL under the title With Gentle Giant on KMET and was actually based on one of the unreleased songs the group wrote as a possible single in 1974. In fact, a low-quality audio fragment of the original song appears on the same boxset as The FBI File # 2. On Feb. 13, 1975, the group were in southern California for the nearby Santa Monica gig listed below, held that same evening. In fact, this Capitol Studios recording is often mistakenly listed as having been recorded in Santa Monica, as well. It has been rumored that another reason Giant made this studio recording was because earlier plans to release an official live album were changed. In an interview around this time, Derek indicated this was because they felt they needed more time to establish themselves in America through studio albums before bringing out a live record.
Feb. 13 Santa Monica, California Civic Auditorium
The opening act for this concert is still in dispute. Some ads simply stated there would be a “support show”, but others, even right up until the day of the show, listed the scheduled openers as being Journey, a fairly new southern California group later destined to become 1980’s superstars. However, there is no confirmation they actually appeared and a couple reports have a country band named Captain starting the show instead. According to one of these reports, Captain had a difficult time being accepted. At one point, their lead singer asked for tolerance from the crowd, claiming the band were “friends of the Giant”, but they still ended up playing an abbreviated set. Whatever the case, Giant’s set was rapturously received. Ray was given a rare mid-concert standing ovation after his Plain Truth violin solo, while the band received another after their main set. Even when the encore was finished, the crowd kept yelling for a full ten minutes before the tour manager had to come out and announce the band had no other material prepared. Gary has described this show as one of GG's best west coast gigs ever.
Santa Monica - ads and humorous college newspaper article Feb. 13, 1975
Feb. 14 San Francisco, California Winterland
Once again, an early ad in Rolling Stone was inaccurate, listing the band as playing Albuquerque, New Mexico on this date, while the two San Francisco dates were listed in the same issue as planned for Feb. 7 and 8. However, by the following issue, the correct San Francisco dates were printed. American Tears was scheduled to open this concert, followed by Giant, then headliners Alvin Lee and Company. However, American Tears bowed out and was replaced by Raw Soul, a local R&B band. The crowd was sparse, numbering only a little over 1,000 out of a capacity of 5,400. Reviewers were not at all in agreement concerning Giant’s two performances at the Winterland. One write-up of the Feb. 14 gig in the Stanford Daily, a college paper known for its anti-Giant bias, stated that while the crowd was not always accepting of Alvin Lee’s post-Ten Years After music, they were “downright mean” to Gentle Giant. It apparently frustrated Derek so much that he was reduced to shouting obscenities at the crowd. In stark contrast, another newspaper reviewer, writing about one of the two nights, was amazed at how well the crowd accepted Giant, claiming this to be quite unusual for a Winterland opening act. A rumor existed once that some of this performance, or that of the following night, may have been broadcast over San Francisco’s KSAN-FM radio station, but this has not been verified.
San Francisco - two nights at the Winterland Feb. 1975
Feb. 15 San Francisco, California Winterland
GG again opened for Alvin Lee and Company at the Winterland, with the band Raw Soul playing first, as a replacement for the scheduled American Tears who backed out. Attendance was again poor, with the 5,400 seat hall only about half full. Reviewing these two appearances, The Argus was generally kind to Giant but branded Derek as “a poor imitation of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson.”
Feb. 15 The live studio recording made at Los Angeles’ Capitol Studios on Feb. 13 was broadcast over the city’s KMET radio, on that station’s weekly Saturday Night At the Concert Hour series, also known as SNATCH. To prepare the audience, KMET preceded the live session with the airing of three studio tracks, namely Black Cat, Knots and In a Glass House. The live portion was edited before being broadcast, the band having supposedly recorded at least a couple more songs that never made it to the airwaves. The master tapes of this session were said to have been located several years ago and an official release of the entire session was being considered, though the idea was shelved at the time. In the meantime, Glass House released almost the entire live portion of the broadcast, albeit in rather sub-par sound quality, on their incorrectly labeled LIVE IN SANTA MONICA 1975 CD in 2005.
Feb. 17 Chicago, Illinois Auditorium Theater
A tape of this gig exists at which Giant opened for Peter Frampton. Apparently, it was a rather small crowd, but there was a large percentage of receptive GG fans sitting in the balcony. This GG rooting section was so enamored by Giant's set that they loudly demanded an encore. The promoter came onstage and tried to move things along, but to no avail. Finally, Ray could be seen in a heated argument with three people on the left side of the stage, his bass strapped on. After a few minutes, Ray pushed the others aside, walked onstage, plugged in his bass, then turned to the audience and smiled. The crowd erupted in applause as the rest of the band joined him for the requested encore. Then, after GG finally concluded their set, a large percentage of their fans cut the evening short and left the Auditorium.
Nothing definitive is known about the band’s live activities after Feb. 17. There have been vague, unconfirmed fan recollections of U.S. shows in Houston, Austin, and Washington, D.C. around this time. These recollections may very well be wrong but cannot be entirely ruled out. There are also personal reminiscences from fans who claim the band played at least one gig with Greenslade, probably sometime in 1975. It is not known what time of year or even in which country this allegedly took place.
It is known that at least two dates opening for Alvin Lee and Company were planned for this later period, as listed below. These two known dates were confirmed by the promoter Stone City Attractions, the same organization who promoted the Alvin Lee/GG gig in Tulsa on Feb. 1. However, it has been confirmed that by Feb. 22, due to several members of Lee’s band coming down with severe cases of the flu, Lee canceled the remainder of his tour and returned to England. Therefore, even though the band did attempt to extend their tour past the Chicago date listed immediately above, Giant’s early 1975 North American tour seems to have come to an end on Feb. 17.
Feb. 28 San Antonio, Texas Texas Theatre
CANCELED. This gig opening for Alvin Lee and Company was canceled due to illness in Lee’s band. This was to be the very first rock concert presented at this facility. Who was set to open the show was always tenuous, with some ads simply listing a “special guest”, others listing Houston band Navasota, and later ads announcing Canadian band Rush. As it turned out, Giant was the final pick for the support slot, as confirmed by the promoter Stone City Attractions. However, after all that, this concert never took place.
Ad for canceled San Antonio show Feb. 28, 1975
Mar. 1 Arlington, Texas University of Texas - Texas Hall
CANCELED. another gig where GG planned to open for Alvin Lee and Company, as confirmed by the promoter Stone City Attractions. However, this show was definitely canceled, due to illness within Lee’s band. Ray is known to have spent this evening with some friends at London’s Rainbow Theater where they were enjoying a concert by Chick Corea’s band Return To Forever. This RTF concert at the Rainbow has been confirmed, and Ray’s attendance shows that Gentle Giant was already back home in England by this point.
Mar. 10 The BBC rebroadcast GG’s Dec. 10, 1974 session on Top Gear, hosted by John Peel. A session by June Tabor was also featured.
It is known that, between spring and summer, the group spent most of their time writing, recording and mixing the music for their next album. There was a rumor that GG was planning to do a tour of Scandinavia with old friends Jethro Tull sometime in 1975, but this never materialized. It appears that the band had also planned some US gigs for April of 1975, though it is unlikely any of them went ahead. Only a couple of these planned dates have been identified, so far, as listed below.
Apr. 11 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Spectrum
CANCELED. This show did not take place, although an early ad listing GG as playing in Philadelphia opening for Slade has surfaced.
Philadelphia ad - canceled show Apr. 11, 1975
Apr. 19 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Spectrum
GIANT DID NOT PLAY. Interestingly, GG was also signed to play a different gig at the Spectrum on April 19, probably booked after the above listed show with Slade fell apart. In this case, they were to follow Joe Vitale’s Madmen, both opening for Robin Trower. The gig did take place, but Giant did not take part, being replaced by Brian Auger’s Oblivian Express.
Apr. ? The band recorded their seventh album, FREE HAND, at London's Advision Studios. The band also mixed a quadraphonic version of the album, but that was not released at the time, not appearing until a 2012 Chrysalis reissue.
After recording their album at Advision Studios, Giant planned some dates in continental Europe. However, details are sketchy and written documentation has proven elusive, so the extent of this touring is unknown. Although the press published ads for some of these gigs, no reviews or definitive fan recollections have yet been located, with the exception of the June 21 Dusseldorf appearance listed below.
Apr. 25 Amsterdam, Holland Concertgebouw
May ? Brussels, Belgium Auditoire Janson
UNCONFIRMED. One fan seems to remember seeing GG at this venue on the campus of the University of Brussels somewhere around the May 1975 timeframe. However, no written evidence has yet been located.
May 13 Berlin, Germany Philharmonie
UNCONFIRMED. One notice in the German press advertised this concert at Berlin’s prestigious classical music venue where, accordingly, it was announced as one of “rock chamber music”. At least one other concert listing in the German press did not mention this gig at all, so it must still be considered unconfirmed. One Belin fan recalls this gig being announced but has no recollection of it going ahead, possibly leading to the scheduling of a Berlin date later in the year, on Nov. 16.
May 17 Tilburg, Holland Pellikaanhal
June 21 Dusseldorf, Germany Philipshalle
This was a festival event entitled the "2nd Pop Meeting". A total of twenty different bands performed, including Grobschnitt, Nektar, Savoy Brown, UFO and the Baker Gurvitz Army. The festival was a two day affair, beginning on June 20, with Giant appearing midday on June 21. Although much of the crowd enjoyed Giant’s set, there were many who were loud and vocal in their opposition. On an existing tape of Giant's set, Derek is shown to be a bit flustered by this at times. The group endured several other mishaps during their performance, as well. Kerry had trouble with a falling microphone and a dropped vibraphone mallet, Ray had a bit of trouble with the cable on his violin, and an audience member even seems to recall John temporarily falling off his raised drum platform at one point.
Dusseldorf poster - “2nd Pop Meeting” June 21, 1975
Some people recall dates Giant played in England in the period between late spring and early summer of 1975, a possibility also hinted at by a Canadian press report back at the end of January. Supposedly, these included stops in Southend-on-Sea and Portsmouth, but no proof of English concerts in this time period has yet been found.
July 20 A portion of the Golder's Green concert recorded by the BBC on Nov. 16. 1973 was broadcast on American radio as part of the Rock Around the World series. The song Way of Life and part of Excerpts from Octopus were aired. This weekly syndicated series broadcast live music, studio tracks and interviews with many rock musicians of the day. Giant’s was the only live music on this particular episode, but others whose studio records appeared on this week’s broadcast were Dave Edmunds, Pete Wingfield and Man, a group John Weathers would join in later years. Oddly, during the broadcast, Gentle Giant was introduced as being from Wales. Even more curiously, even though this broadcast only included a portion of the original BBC performance, it does include a section of The Advent of Panurge from Excerpts from Octopus that was edited out of the original 1973 broadcast for some reason. This missing section does not appear on the official OUT OF THE FIRE CD release of the concert either, making a recording of this American broadcast the only place to find the missing musical section.
“Rock Around the World” US radio broadcast July 20, 1975
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