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Gentle Giant Tour History
*** Part Four ***
*** Back to North America ***
(late 1974 - mid 1975)
new information will be in RED
after a series of aborted tour plans and over sixteen months away from North
America, Giant returned there in the fall of 1974. Prior to their arrival, they had cobbled
together a number of gigs into a piecemeal tour, but these long-awaited
concerts went over quite well.
Additionally, they found that album sales in the
TYPICAL SETLIST (Fall 1974)
The Runaway/Experience - During the “breaking glass” intro tape, a huge glittery sign spelling out “GIANT” was lowered down above the stage.
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. 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. For their part, the band was encouraged by the good reception they received.
Denver - first gig back in North America Oct. 8, 1974
Oct. 9 Los Angeles, 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 Los Angeles nightclub. The band was rapturously received. This is particularly ironic, considering they did not even want to play at this club at all, finally being talked into it by their manager. People started to line up for tickets hours ahead of time and each night, the club had to turn away hundreds of disappointed fans. 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. A couple reports have surfaced indicating the band was filmed during at least one of these Whisky shows, not to be confused with the ABC filming described below. It may have been for a local television report, although that is pure conjecture. 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 first gig exists.
Los Angeles - 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 the Aquarius Theater in nearby West Hollywood, California, 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 closed down sometime in 1975.
Oct. 10 Los Angeles, California Whisky A-Go-Go Harvey Mandel opened.
Oct. 11 Los Angeles, California Whisky A-Go-Go Harvey Mandel opened.
Oct. 12 Los Angeles, California Whisky A-Go-Go They played two shows on this date. Harvey Mandel opened both.
Oct. 13 Los Angeles, 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 is believed to be 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, their US record label responded by ordering that 30,000 more copies of their current 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.
??? Santa Monica, California Civic Auditorium Gary remembered a 1974 gig here as being one of the band's best west coast gigs ever. However, he may have been thinking of the Santa Monica show from Feb. 1975.
At this time, the band took a brief vacation in
Oct. 17 Milwaukee, Wisconsin Riverside Theater Giant and Aerosmith both opened for Golden Earring in a packed house of about 2400 people. The Milwaukee Sentinel had kind words for GG and Golden Earring but totally dismissed Aerosmith, saying they were “loud and little else”.
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 Messenger Service in the college gymnasium. A tape is rumored to exist of Giant’s set, which was part of the college’s 1974 Homecoming activities. The band also got a few color photographs in the college’s yearbook.
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.
Youngstown ad Oct. 20, 1974
Oct. 21 Columbus, Ohio Agora Ticket sales were not very good for this show, resulting in the promoter lowering the prices. Focus was also on the bill, but although GG occasionally opened for Focus around this time, ads for this gig seemed to imply Giant may have headlined.
Oct. 22 Chicago, Illinois Auditorium Theater This venue was a converted opera house and boasted superior acoustics. GG opened for J. Geils.
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 Early promotional material from Capitol Records listed this date at this very small theater and a 1976 Philadelphia Inquirer article seems to refer back to it. P.F. and the Flyers were supposedly set to be the opening act. However, in its Oct. 19 issue, a nearby college newspaper instead advertised Melissa Manchester as playing at the Roxy on Oct. 24.
Oct. 25 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Carnegie-Mellon University 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.
Oct. 26 Lawrenceville, New Jersey Rider College - Alumni Gymnasium Originally, GG was scheduled to open for J. Geils at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on this date. However, they ended up playing this college gig outside of Trenton instead, where they opened for Dave Mason. GG was well received and, reportedly, Mason had the house lights turned up three quarters of the way through Giant’s set, in an attempt to shut them down.
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.
Harrisburg 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 2600 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. During Ray's violin solo, a screaming match developed between Ray and an audience member.
Nov. 1 New York, New York Academy Of Music A tape of this midnight concert exists. John Martyn played first then Giant and headliners Focus, although one fan remembers GG and Focus playing equal length sets. 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. Once again, 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. Sadly, a review of this gig in Billboard cited the band’s music as being “too repetitious” while the trade paper Variety gave them a positive write up. 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. This does seem like an exaggeration and the existing tape does not bear out this claim. One online source claims this show took place on November 3 but it seems doubtful, one other 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. 4 Detroit,
Michigan Cobo Hall It
looks like this show may have been a late add, not appearing on Giant’s
original schedule. 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. J. Geils
was extremely popular in
Nov. 5 ??? Research into this date has resulted in more questions than answers. Online sources have GG opening for Focus at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, Connecticut and receiving a nice reception. However, a newspaper ad was published at the time indicating the band was actually scheduled to open for Foghat at the Civic Theater in Akron, Ohio. Even though online Foghat sources state that band had the entire first week of November off, it is certain that they did share the bill with Giant in Flint on Nov. 6, as listed below, so it’s certainly possible that an additional Akron gig was added on Nov. 5. It’s also equally possible that Giant simply ended up with a day off. While still in Detroit the morning of Nov. 5, following their gig there on Nov. 4, both Kerry and Gary were briefly interviewed by fans. They referred frequently to both their disappointing show in Detroit the night before and their upcoming show in Flint the following night, which they hoped would be better, yet made no mention of any concert plans for that very evening.
Nov. 6 Flint, Michigan I.M.A. Auditorium opened for Foghat, In comments made the day before with a young fan, 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 bass, directed towards the audience. 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.
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. There is also a possibility that Giant played another show in the Allentown area at some unspecified date with Al Stewart and possibly comedian Robert Klein in support. Even the year of this alleged concert is speculative at best, but it’s said to have been an acoustically excellent theater date.
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.
Plattsburgh - college yearbook pages and ad Nov. 8, 1974
Nov. 9 New Haven, Connecticut Yale University - Woolsey Hall The band opened for Poco on this night. 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 and was well received. Dave Mason may have been at one time scheduled as the headliner, but he did not appear, Trower playing instead.
??? Buffalo, New York New Century Theatre An unconfirmed report has Nektar opening for Giant here in 1974.
??? Upper Darby, Pennsylvania Tower Theater There are a couple reports that Giant opened here for Focus, although one Focus source gives a date of November 9, 1973. That is most certainly incorrect.
??? North Branch, New Jersey Somerset County Community College 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 far more likely. 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.
Nov. 17 Memphis, Tennessee Ellis Auditorium North Hall Although all of the concerts Giant played on this tour have not yet been uncovered, this show was mentioned in the press as being the final date of the extended North American tour. One fan in attendance remembers that GG opened the show but does not remember the headliner.
have been reports from fans that Giant played some more Canadian gigs in late
1974, but these reports are unreliable.
More than likely, these fans were actually thinking of the shows held in
Jan. 1975. Upon returning to
TYPICAL SETLIST (late 1974)
Intro/Cogs in Cogs - A brief instrumental snippet of the song Giant was used as an intro to this set-opener.
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.
Most notable at this time is the band's increased 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 tape of this concert also exists.
Ascona - notice about upcoming show Nov. 23, 1974
Nov. 26 A short film clip of the band appeared on British television on the Old Grey Whistle Test program, alongside the episode’s main attractions, the Pretty Things and Jackie Lynton’s Grande. 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.
Rome ticket Nov. 26, 1974
Nov. 27 Udine, Italy Palazzo dello Sport opening act was Arti e Mestieri
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 tape exists of this concert.
??? Modena, Italy Teatro Storchi This is an unconfirmed gig for which no written documentation has been found. However, a fan recalls it, only remembering it as having been sometime between 1972 and 1974. He also recalls a keyboard intro at the start of the show which could correlate with this time period. Additionally, this fan states the audience responded better to the older tunes than to the newer ones.
??? Stockholm, Sweden There is a possibility that the band played a Stockholm date around this time, as one fan seems to recall it. However, it remains unconfirmed.
As stated above, the band rescheduled their tour of
Second cancellation of UK tour Dec. 1974
Dec. 10 Stoke on Trent, England The Heavy Steam Machine canceled
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. 17 The band's tenth BBC session from Dec. 10 was broadcast on Sounds of the Seventies, hosted by John Peel.
Plymouth ad (canceled show) Dec. 19, 1974
Dec. 22 London, England Rainbow Theatre 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 and then for 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.
1975 rolled around, Giant once again toured heavily, beginning in North America
and then, by summer, returning to
TYPICAL SETLIST (Early - Mid 1975)
Intro/Cogs in Cogs
Excerpts from Octopus - Yankee Doodle was returned to its place during the recorder quartet.
So Sincere - The 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 -
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. 3 The ABC Wide World In Concert TV program, filmed in October of 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 also seems some of this material was later broadcast on the BBC In Concert radio program, but when that was is not known.
Newspaper notice of ABC Wide World In Concert TV broadcast Jan. 3, 1975
Jan. 14 The Feb. 8 issue of Billboard reported that, while in Montreal for the Forum concert listed below, 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.
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”.
Jan. 15 Ottawa, Ontario Lansdown Park - Civic Centre Arena Bluesman John Lee Hooker opened this concert. The venue, a hockey arena, seated 5000-7000 people, but about 4000 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 - ad and article promoting upcoming gig Jan. 15, 1975
Jan. 16 Sherbrooke, Quebec Centre Culturel The opening band was a Quebec area prog/jazz fusion band named Sloche.
New York ad - Academy of Music 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 was again the opening band. 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 trampling. 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.
Jan. 22 Buffalo, New York Kleinhan's Music Hall opened for Alvin Lee and Company. Conflicting assessments of this concert exist. One audience member recalls two whole rows of fans near the front screaming 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. The local newspaper's review the next day 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. In contrast, though, a local college newspaper claimed Giant won over the crowd and it was Lee who had to endure a cold reception from the crowd. 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 simply played a boogie number “for an hour”. It’s extremely unlikely that Giant would play any one number for an hour, but the Democrat and Chronicle did state, 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 general admission show on a very cold night in a small, intimate hall. 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 for some reason, necessitating the last minute rental of a replacement system. Accordingly, the gig was quite late starting. 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 was also 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.
Toronto Jan. 24, 1975
Jan. 25 Waterloo, Ontario Wilfrid Laurier University The Myles and Lenny Band opened this show, as well. 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. 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.
Jan. 28 Columbus, Ohio Agora Ballroom The openers were a local area progressive band called I Don’t Care, the keyboard player of which remembers opening twice for Giant. The second was probably on July, 6, 1976. This keyboardist also recalls the members of GG being very personable with them on both occasions.
Jan. 29 The
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. GG were received enthusiastically, however, especially after their recorder quartet during Excerpts From Octopus.
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.
Feb. 2 St. Louis, Missouri Kiel Auditorium Along with a country rock group called Mason Proffit, GG opened for Alvin Lee and Company. Originally, advertisements had GG set to play at the Agora in Columbus, Ohio, but that was changed. Additionally, a published Alvin Lee ad gave a date of Feb. 1 at the Auditorium Theatre, but that was also incorrect.
Feb. 3 Denver, Colorado Ebbets Field The planned Columbus Agora show referenced above was originally advertised in Rolling Stone as being scheduled for Feb. 3, but that gig was changed, then ultimately canceled. Instead, they band played 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 benches. The walls, floor and benches were all covered in orange, black and brown shag carpet. Giant did not have an opening act at this general admission show. According to Gary's wife Judy, she first met him in the early morning hours of Feb. 4, after this gig. 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 1976. Sadly, best evidence so far indicates this Giant show was not one of them.
Denver Feb. 1975
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.
Feb. 7 Long Beach, California Long Beach Arena GG was not at this gig. Although it was, at one point, advertised that 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.
Feb. ? Los Angeles, California During the ABC In Concert performance 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 the Feb. 7 Long Beach show or either of the Feb. 13 appearances listed below. All of these were located quite near to Los Angeles.
??? Berkeley, California Community Theater 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.
Feb. 13 In West Hollywood, California's
Capitol Studios, Gentle Giant made a live studio recording, with no audience,
meant for broadcast two days later over KMET Radio in
Feb. 13 Santa Monica, California Civic Auditorium A country band called named Captain started the show and 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. Giant’s set, on the other hand, 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 had described this show as one of GG's best west coast gigs ever, even though he mistakenly recalled it as being from 1974.
Santa Monica ad 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 opened the show, followed by Giant, then headliners Alvin Lee and Company before a sparse crowd of only a little over 1000 out of a capacity of 5400. The Oakland Tribune also advertised the band Raw Soul as being on the bill, but this is not corroborated elsewhere. A review in the Stanford Daily stated that the crowd was not always accepting of Alvin Lee’s post-Ten Years After music, but they were “downright mean” to Giant. It apparently frustrated Derek so much that he was reduced to shouting obscenities at the crowd. 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.
Feb. 15 San Francisco, California Winterland One early report placed this concert at Warners Theater in Fresno, California but that is not correct. It is certain that American Tears, followed by GG, again opened for Alvin Lee and Company at the Winterland, with the inclusion of the band Raw Soul again an unconfirmed possibility. Attendance was again poor, with the 5400 seat hall only about half full. Reviewing these two appearances, The Daily Review was generally kind to Giant but branded Derek as “a poor imitation of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson.”
San Francisco - two nights at the Winterland Feb. 1975
Feb. 15 The live studio recording made at West Hollywood's Capitol Studios on Feb. 13 was broadcast over KMET radio in Los Angeles, 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.
Information continues to be very sketchy as to Gentle Giant's American live activities in early 1975. Very few concert dates are known from this time period, although there are unconfirmed fan recollections of U.S. shows in Houston, Austin, and Washington, D.C.
Feb. 28 San Antonio, Texas Texas Theatre yet another gig opening for Alvin Lee and Company, again promoted by Stone City Attractions. This was the very first rock concert presented at this facility. The Feb. 16 issue of the San Antonio Express listed the opener as Houston band Navasota, while the Feb. 23 issue listed Canadian band Rush in support. It ended up being Giant.
Mar. 1 Arlington, Texas University of Texas - Texas Hall another gig opening for Alvin Lee and Company just outside of Dallas, promoted by Stone City Attractions.
known that, between spring and summer, the group spent most of their time
writing, recording and mixing the music for their next album. The band was supposedly planning to do a tour
Mar. 24 Torino, Italy Palasport This date is suspect. Genesis is known to have played at this venue on this exact date so, unless the two bands shared the bill, which is unlikely, Giant probably was not there. The only known time these two bands were scheduled to play on the same bill were two shows in Germany in June of 1977. However, Giant canceled out of both of those dates.
Apr. ? The band recorded their seventh
album, FREE HAND, at
Apr. 25 Amsterdam, Holland Concertgebouw
May 13 Berlin, Germany Philharmonie 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.
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 considerable numbers 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
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,
??? A live studio concert was filmed in
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 in the 1970's. Others
whose music appeared on this week’s broadcast were Dave Edmunds, Pete Winfield
and Man, a group John Weathers would join in later years. Oddly, during the
broadcast, Gentle Giant was introduced as being from
Go on to Part Five
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