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Gentle Giant Tour History

*** Part Seven ***

*** A Change of Direction ***

 

(mid 1977 - 1979)

 

new information will be in RED

 

            The English music scene went through some radical changes in 1977, with the rise to prominence of punk rock.  Progressive acts were quickly falling out of favor and found themselves under extreme pressure to simplify their music.  John has claimed that Gentle Giant was being pressured by the record label to commercialize their music, while Derek has denied this.  Ray stated at the time that he did want the band to make a bigger impact with radio listeners.  There may have been a myriad of contributing factors but, whatever the reasons, the group did begin to write and record somewhat simpler music that year.

 

 

May ?            Giant's ninth album, THE MISSING PIECE, was recorded at Relight Studios in Hilvarenbeek, Holland.  The dates of the recording sessions may have been May 6 - 16, but this is not confirmed.  Gary does remember the group spending two weeks in Holland.  On the album were the four songs they had debuted live earlier in the year, though Winning had been rearranged considerably.  These were all in a fairly progressive style, but the album also contained a number of more mainstream rock songs which startlingly contrasted with their earlier material.  Even though the band’s change in direction ultimately failed to have a huge commercial impact, this particular album was reported to have generated considerable sales on US college campuses.

 

June 17         Koln, Germany                             Mungersdorfer Stadion              For unknown reasons, Giant cancelled out of this stadium date the morning of the concert.  It was billed as an “Open Air Festival” and Genesis was scheduled to headline.  Four bands were booked and advertised as playing at this event with the German band Lake opening, Giant probably slated second, Manfred Mann's Earthband third, and finally Genesis.  Since Giant did not play, a couple of the other bands simply extended their sets.

June 19         Offenbach, Germany                    Stadion am Bieberer Berg         Sadly, Giant was again a no-show at this, another date of the German "Open Air Festival".  The same four bands were booked as in Koln two nights earlier.  After Lake finished their set on this night, an announcer took the stage and informed the crowd that Giant would not be appearing.  No reason was given, but many in the crowd were disappointed.  John Miles ended up playing, as a substitute act.  As it turned out, it was a disappointing day for many, as it rained relentlessly.  One source seems to recall a GG show with this same lineup of bands taking place in Munster, Germany, but Munster was not on Genesis' tour itinerary.  No evidence has surfaced that Genesis and Giant ever played together at any other time, although John believes they may have.  In fact, there are no indications of any other GG gigs at all in the summer of 1977.

 

               

 

Tickets for both cancelled German “Open Air Festival” dates    June 1977

 

 

Aug. 22         Evidence has come to light that Giant recorded one last BBC session that included new versions of Mountain Time and Who Do You Think You Are? on Aug. 22 for broadcast on the radio program It’s DLT OK!.  This afternoon program was hosted by famed BBC announcer Dave Lee Travis, but when these sessions were broadcast, if at all, is unknown.  It also appears they still exist, as the BBC includes them in a catalog of audio materials available for licensing to international customers.

 

 

The band once again took to the road in the fall for their MISSING PIECE tour.  First in Europe then followed by North America, they went out strictly as headliners.  At this time, they made room in their set for quite a few of the songs from their new album, perhaps in an extra effort to promote its more accessible music.  Their record label, for its part, also put somewhat more effort into promoting the album than it usually did.

 

TYPICAL SETLIST  (Fall 1977)

 

Intro/Two Weeks in Spain - The recording of the final movement of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #4 was again played before the show, this time leading into the intro tape used on the Fall 1975 tour.  This, in turn, led into a prerecorded Spanish-flavored instrumental which was used as the intro for the opening song.

Free Hand

On Reflection

I'm Turning Around - Gary had designed some sort of slide presentation to go along with this number, but it proved too complex and did not come to fruition.

Just the Same/Playing the Game

Memories of Old Days - The keyboard Giant intro was deleted.

Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It

Funny Ways - John still got to do his comedic introduction.

The Face - This was the new home for Ray's violin solo which, in turn, led directly into the 5-man drum bash.

For Nobody

Excerpts from Octopus - still used as the encore.  It was sometimes preceded by a short instrumental blues jam.

Mountain Time - This was frequently used as a second encore.

 

During performances on this tour, the band again utilized the neon "giant's head" that had been damaged once or twice during the early 1977 tour.  Evidently, repairs had again brought it back to workable condition.  Other new stage gimmicks were also put into play for this tour.  One of the band's roadies, possibly the keyboard roadie, would don a rubbery Gentle Giant mask and walk around on stage, carrying a liquor jug.  He supposedly also appeared behind John Weathers at one point, most likely and appropriately during the drum solo in The Face.  It's also known that a film that made use of the same type of mask was shown during concerts at some point.  In this film, made by a friend of Ray's, and now included as a bonus feature in the SCRAPING THE BARREL boxset, someone wearing the mask would appear to poke his head through a curtain and look down while pointing his finger.  This film was also projected directly behind John, so as to make it appear that the mythical Giant was watching the drummer.  The face would also turn and was timed so as to appear to stare at different band members at specific appropriate times.  It’s believed this gimmick was used during this tour, though some evidence indicates it was also used in early 1977 and perhaps even earlier.  It’s been said that, on this tour, the screens would turn blue during On Reflection and lights would twinkle around these screens, as also happened during the drum bash.  According to one of the roadies at the time, the band’s projectionist left at some point during this tour, unfortunately bringing to an end their use of rear projection.

 

 

Sep. ?           Prior to the start of the European tour, the group practiced for a week or two on the top floor of an industrial building in Portsmouth.

 

Sep. 16         Best evidence points to THE MISSING PIECE being released on this date in England.  Chrysalis promotional material originally came out with a projected release date of Aug. 26, but that seems to have been pushed back.

 

 

Chrysalis promotional flyer with original, incorrect UK release date of THE MISSING PIECE album    1977

 

 

Sep. 20         THE MISSING PIECE saw release in America.

 

???               At a BBC Studio in London, England, the group made a promotional film for the song I'm Turning Around, their single release from the new album.  The film was intended to be aired on the BBC's Top of the Pops TV program, but it is not known with certainty if the film was ever shown.  Interestingly, while filming, an interview with former British Prime Minister Edward Heath was being filmed in a studio across the hall.  This promo is probably the film that Derek alluded to in an interview he did in New York City with Trouser Press magazine around the time of the new album’s release.  He claimed the band was planning on recording backing tracks, then mime to them while he sang the vocal track live.  He also claimed that, as a joke, the band would pretend to play the wrong instruments.  Of course, in the same interview, he also stated that GG would appear on several daytime American TV talk shows and even planned on playing in Las Vegas.  None of these later claims was true, further solidifying Derek’s reputation as being sometimes difficult to believe in interviews.

 

Sep. 26          Cambrai, France                          Palais des Grottes - Jardin Public

Sep. 27          Brussels, Belgium                        Theatre 140

Sep. 28          Eindhoven, Holland                      Stadsschouwburg                     An eyewitness remembers that at the soundcheck for this show, the band played the Derek and the Dominoes song, Layla.  During the concert, GG played a tongue-in-cheek bit of a “new song”, consisting of nothing more than raucous noise.  John then announced, in derogatory terms, that it was their latest "punk hit", thereby making fun of the new style of rock in vogue at the time.  An existing ticket stub does indicate there was a support act but does not give the name.

 

 

Eindhoven - included in city’s musical history    Sep. 28, 1977

 

 

Sep. 29          Nijmegen, Holland                        De Vereeniging                         It's believed that Playing the Game was not performed on this night, for some reason.

 

 

Ad for Dutch concert appearances    Sep. 1977

 

 

Oct. 1            Hannover, Germany                     NDR-Sendesaal                        All six of the scheduled October German shows were advertised as including an unidentified opening act.  However, nothing is known about the opener at this particular show and details are sketchy for the others.

Oct. 2            Berlin, Germany                           Eissporthalle                             This date appeared on the band’s original itinerary but has only been recently confirmed.

Oct. 3            Offenbach, Germany                    Stadthalle                                 This show was marred early on by technical difficulties, with Derek’s microphone cutting in and out and Kerry’s keyboards emitting an annoying electronic squeal.  Eventually, the band and roadies managed to fix things, but only after Derek had knocked over Ray’s violin.  For the remainder of the set, the acoustics were not ideal, but the fairly rowdy crowd seemed appreciative, nonetheless.  One attendee at this gig is not sure there was any opening act at all.

 

     

 

Offenbach - includes roadie in rubber Giant mask behind screen    Oct. 3, 1977

 

 

Oct. 4            Munich, Germany                        Circus Krone Building               A capacity crowd of about 3000 listeners were in attendance.  One of them remembers a three man bluegrass band opening.

 

     

 

Munich    Oct. 4, 1977

 

 

Oct. 5            Heidelberg, Germany                   Stadthalle                                 A tape exists of this concert.  A crowd of around 1500 was in attendance, making the show nearly sold out.  On this occasion, a fan remembers a lone singer/acoustic guitar player opening the show.

 

 

Heidelberg poster    Oct. 5, 1977

 

 

Oct. 6            Koln, Germany                             Sporthalle                                 Here, an audience member recalls a two-man folk act by the name of Itchyfoot opening the show.  It is possible Itchyfoot opened more of the German shows

Oct. 7            Zurich, Switzerland                      Volkshaus

 

 

Zurich flyer    Oct. 7, 1977

 

 

Oct. 8            Basel, Switzerland                       Mustermesse Reihenring          Two separate tapes, made by different members of the audience, are known to exist, although only one is available to collectors.  During John's Funny Ways intro, he invited a fan named Freddy onstage with him and proceeded to comment on the fan's tee-shirt. 

Oct. 9            Feldkirch, Austria                         Stadthalle

Oct. 10          Lugano, Switzerland                     Palazzetto dello Sport                Flyers from this show announced that there would be an opening act but did not specify who.

 

 

Lugano flyer    Oct. 10, 1977

 

 

Oct. ?            Essen, Germany                                                                          There was possibly a show in Essen during the first half of October, though it is not certain.  Such a show was not on the originally advertised schedule.

 

Oct. ?           On either Oct. 21 or Oct. 28, the group released its second compilation album, entitled PRETENTIOUS - FOR THE SAKE OF IT.  Oddly enough, it covered material from the band's first six studio albums, just like the 1975 GIANT STEPS album had.  In fact, some songs appeared on both albums.  Like that previous compilation album, this one was released in England and at least part of Europe, but not in America. 

 

 

The late 1977 North American tour seems to be another one in which dates were announced, switched and rearranged several times before being finalized.  Clarification is still needed in a few instances.  For their support slot, Giant made the unusual move of choosing the U.K. punk/pub rock band Dr. Feelgood, a band which Derek claimed to admire.  Although gaining widespread popularity in England, punk rock was definitely not easily accepted by American fans of progressive rock in 1977.  It seemed that whenever Dr. Feelgood took the stage, they found themselves the constant source of jeers and derision, sometimes being chased completely off the stage by an intolerant audience.  Near the end of the scheduled dates, Dr. Feelgood had had enough and left the tour, intent on picking up gigs on their own as best as they could.  Giant, who themselves often faced overly rambunctious crowds on many stops of the tour, had to find replacement support acts to finish out their scheduled dates.

 

                    

???                Portland, Oregon                                                                         A show in Portland was supposedly cancelled due to poor ticket sales, but it is unconfirmed that there ever was a show scheduled here, since the known dates from this North American tour are all in the eastern and midwestern portions of the continent.

Oct. 28          Blue Bell, Pennsylvania                Montgomery County Community College           At this college just outside of Philadelphia, the band played in a theater which doubles as a Science lecture hall.  The size of the crowd is the subject of conflicting reports.  900 tickets were put on sale, with the college’s student newspaper reporting a “near-capacity” crowd.  Another report has only 400-500 originally attending, with many of them leaving before the show even started, due to the fact that the band was running quite late.  The trucks with their equipment had accidentally gone to a town called Blue Ball in the Amish part of Pennsylvania.  After finally arriving in Blue Bell, the band rushed through a hasty soundcheck held behind closed doors while the audience members listened in.  The show itself, originally scheduled to start at 8:00, finally got underway around 10:30.  The band did not use its own lighting equipment, relying instead upon the theater's own minimal lighting and the normal fluorescent lights present in the lecture hall.  No spotlights were used.  According to one eyewitness, the group, playing on a very low stage close to the audience, had a bit of trouble getting themselves together at the beginning of the show, but had things running smoothly after a while, with the exception of periodic audio glitches here and there.  Nonetheless, the audience was very appreciative, giving the band numerous standing ovations.  Dr. Feelgood was supposed to play in support but they did not, for unknown reasons.

 

       

 

Blue Bell - ad and yearbook photos    Oct. 28, 1977

 

 

Oct. 29          Upper Darby, Pennsylvania          Tower Theater                          About 2800 tickets were sold in this 4000 seat theater.  Dr. Feelgood did open this show and a number of their fans were seated up front and left before Giant took the stage, thus allowing more of Giant’s fans to move forward.  Other fans in attendance disagree on how well Dr. Feelgood was received, reports ranging from polite acceptance to downright intolerance.  During the GG set, John wore a Philadelphia Flyers hockey jersey which Derek mistakenly referred to as being from the Philadelphia Eagles, the local football team.  Many audience members tried to correct him.  Later, while up front for his comedy bit, John picked up on the mistake and corrected it himself in a fit of hysterics.  At this time, he also commented on what he believed to be a meager crowd by asking, “where is everybody, home watching Kojak or something?”, referring to a popular television show.  It’s been hypothesized that the lights in his eyes made it difficult for him to see the true size of the crowd.  Still, he did thank the audience for what he claimed was one of the band’s best receptions in a while, especially after what he described as a cold reception on their German dates earlier in the month.  During the violin solo, screaming again erupted from some in the audience.  Ray turned his back on them while playing, causing much applause from the rest of the crowd.  The band's soundman had several problems on this evening.  For one thing, the quadraphonic effects during Ray's solo were not functioning.  As another example, Kerry's microphone was not working during a recorder section.  Oddly, one newspaper review portrayed Giant as a totally unknown band, even though this was not the first time they had headlined there. The reviewer did think they had a chance for a successful future, pointing out the audience’s call for two encores.  A tape exists of this show, as supposedly does a small portion of silent 8mm film.

 

       

 

Upper Darby    Oct. 29, 1977

 

 

Oct 30           Guelph, Ontario                           University of Guelph - Athletic Centre                Dr. Feelgood was originally scheduled to open this show, but the opener was changed to a band called Garfield.  It was reported that about 1800 fans showed up in this 2200 seat venue, yet the University still lost $2000.  The roadies for the band showed up to the University late, so they enlisted some fans who arrived early to help them set up.  In return, those fans were allowed to watch the soundcheck and were given front row seats to the show, which also started a bit late.

 

               

 

Guelph    Oct. 30, 1977

 

 

Nov. 1           Montreal, Quebec                        Montreal Forum                        This time, rock legend John Mayall was the opening act and was very well received by the appreciative audience.  On a tape that exists of this gig, Ray can be heard having equipment problems during his violin solo in The Face.  The Forum was set up in “Concert Bowl” formation, which meant only half the facility was in use, with a curtain drawn across the middle.  There were about 6,000 people in the crowd.  Apparently, this gig was originally scheduled to take place on Oct. 31 with Dr. Feelgood again playing in support.  Gary, who grew up with an appreciation for the music of John Mayall, has commented that he thought it backwards that such a blues legend should have opened for Giant.

 

 

Montreal ad    Nov. 1, 1977

 

 

Nov. 2           Waterloo, Ontario                         Waterloo University - Physical Activity Complex                                          This venue seated 5000, but the concert was cancelled, due to only 200 tickets being sold.  One student attending the University at the time suspects poor promotion played a hand in this but, whatever the case, it was an unusual occurrence for the band in Canada, where they were enormously popular.  However, a possible explanation could be the fact that Waterloo, where this Wednesday night concert was scheduled, is only about a half hour from Guelph, where the group performed just three nights earlier.  Giant still apparently received a $3000 cancellation fee out of a $5000 plus percentage contract.  The University ended up losing $4500 total.  The opener was again supposed to be Dr. Feelgood but, confusingly, was advertised as Feelgood and Rose.

 

       

 

         

 

Waterloo - ad and eventual cancellation    Nov. 2, 1977

 

 

Nov. 3           Albany, New York                        Palace Theater                         Dr. Feelgood did open this show, receiving their typical poor reception from the crowd.  Earlier on, this concert had been incorrectly advertised as being on Oct. 30.

Nov. 4           Buffalo, New York                        New Century Theatre                Dr. Feelgood opened again, as did the band Crawler.  A local college newspaper reviewer mercilessly voiced his disgust over the Giant fans’ poor treatment of Dr. Feelgood.

Nov. 5           New York, New York                    Palladium                                 The Palladium was the renamed Academy of Music.  Dr. Feelgood and Crawler were the openers with Dr. Feelgood once again booed off the stage, a reaction mentioned in a Billboard review shortly afterwards. Giant started their set late, beginning with a slight glitch in their intro tape, causing the band to lurch in a couple beats early.  On an existing tape of this gig, Derek can be heard trying to defend the openers, joking onstage something to the effect of "back in England, we open for them”.  As it turned out, GG also had to endure more than the usual amount of rude behavior from the particularly noisy crowd.  For some reason, Ray's violin solo on this night was extremely slow and plodding, almost sounding like an attempt to purposely frustrate the audience.  One member of the crowd did apparently get frustrated, yelling out "you suck!"  Ray remembers this exact same thing occurring at this same venue on Jan. 18, 1975.  More technical problems caused a delay before Funny Ways.  Because of this, John's spoken introduction to the song was quite long, and included a humorous story based on Preparation H, the hemorrhoid medicine John frequently joked about at this point in the show.  He also made his own commentary on how noisy the crowd was and their tendency to boo.  All this talk further frustrated some impatient members of the audience.  One person repeatedly interrupted by yelling out the song title.  Finally, in exasperation, John yelled back, "up yours!"  However, all was soon forgiven as Kerry’s vibraphone solo during that number’s solo garnered some of the heaviest applause of the evening.  In fact, one fan recalls the crowd enthusiastically cheering the older numbers while giving only a lukewarm reception to the newer songs.  During On Reflection, while the band sang “all around, all around, all around”, the rear speakers came on, creating a quadraphonic effect similar to that used during Ray’s violin solo.  One fan in the balcony remembers many sitting there being greatly amused by this effect.  Ever since the band’s early days, Derek was known for conducting the instrumental bits with his waving arms.  On this night, he is remembered for standing next to Kerry during his Just the Same solo and imitating his double keyboard playing.  Then, while introducing the band members, Derek actually referred to himself as Simon Dupree.  A second audience recording, taped by someone else, has also surfaced.  It includes John’s Funny Ways introduction which is absent from the first tape. 

Nov. 6           New Paltz, New York                   New Paltz College - Elting Gym             Dr. Feelgood opened this general admission show and was greeted with more booing.  However, this same crowd was reportedly enraptured with Giant, responding with "ooh"s and "aah"s after many of the songs.  The sound quality at this show was supposedly excellent, no small feat considering it took place in a gymnasium.  This gig was mentioned in the 2007 book Secrets of the Mysterious Valley, in which author Christopher O’Brien recounts his experiences attending the show.  He got the date wrong in the book but he did enjoy the show tremendously, although he was a bit puzzled by John’s hemorrhoid jokes during the intro to Funny Ways,  Another source recounts how John also joked about the small town they were in, describing it as "New Paltz - 5000 bars and a Post Office!"  Originally, notices in the press wrongly listed this venue as New York University in New York City.

 

 

New Paltz poster    Nov. 6, 1977

 

 

Nov. 8           New Haven, Connecticut              Yale University - Woolsey Hall              Dr. Feelgood played support at this general admission show, on a very cold and rainy night.  The Dingoes were also on the bill, probably in the opening slot.  A tape exists of this concert.

Nov. 9           Ellicott City, Maryland                  Hollywood Palace                     Originally, the band was scheduled to play in nearby Washington D.C at Warner Theater on this night with Dr. Feelgood, but that was cancelled.  It was rescheduled for the Hollywood Palace where a band called Source was the opening act.  Source, who were just beginning a five day stint at the club, were a disco oriented group with a horn section and they were not well received by the Giant crowd.

Nov. 10         Bailey's Crossroads, Virginia        Louie's Rock City                      A pomp/prog band called Face Dancer opened this show, followed by Dr. Feelgood who had to endure yet more booing.  At one point, Dr. Feelgood’s lead singer, frustrated at the crowd’s clamoring for the headliners, yelled out, “you’ll get your bloody Giant!”  Even when Giant took the stage, the crowd continued to be a bit on the rowdy side.  Originally, GG planned to play at the Warner Theater in downtown Washington D.C. on this evening but ended up at this nearby club instead.  Louie’s Rock City was a fairly large club seating 700 and it was sold out for this concert.  There is a small dance floor directly in front of the stage and some patrons were making use of it during the evening.  Gary commented later that it was the first time the band had played for a dancing audience.  An incomplete tape of the show exists, recorded directly from the mixing desk, probably by an employee of the club.  A second incomplete tape has also surfaced, this time recorded by a member of the audience.  This second tape, although quite short, does include a little music not present on the first recording.  It also shows Ray running his distorted voice through his quadrophonic speaker system during his The Face violin solo.  It has been said that the group pulled out a song from IN A GLASS HOUSE for a surprise final encore at the very end of the night, dedicating it to a friend in the crowd who had been clamoring for it.  Unfortunately, neither incomplete recording sheds any light on this claim.

 

       

 

Bailey’s Crossroads    Nov. 10, 1977   

 

 

Nov. 11         Boston, Massachusetts                Paradise Theatre                      This was a very small club near Boston University.  Although originally scheduled to play in Boston only on Nov. 11, GG ended up playing three consecutive nights at this venue.  Dr. Feelgood opened on this first night and was again booed off the stage about twenty minutes into their set, after spitting on the front tables and being pelted with ice cubes from the audience.  In fact, the entire crowd was described as a bit "raucous", even during Giant's set.  At one of these three nights at the Paradise, Gary is known to have commented about the initials DVS that Derek had sewn into the white jumpsuit he wore on stage.  Pronouncing it as “devious”, Gary joked that it showed Derek’s true nature.

Nov. 12         Boston, Massachusetts                Paradise Theatre                      A tape exists from this second of the three Boston performances.  At one point, Derek mistakenly referred to the venue as the Orpheum, though it was definitely the Paradise.  Derek also commented during this show that the band was playing without its usual stage setups, projection screens, etc.  More than likely, this was the case at all three of the Paradise shows.  It's unknown if the band downsized their stage show at other club dates in late 1977.  Dr. Feelgood again opened the show.

Nov. 13         Boston, Massachusetts                Paradise Theatre                        A heckler in the crowd tried to give Derek a hard time at the beginning, but the band didn't seem to let it affect their performance.  A tape exists of this evening's performance, also.  Like on the previous two nights in Boston, Dr. Feelgood was the opening act.

 

 

Boston - backstage pass for all three gigs    Nov. 1977

 

 

Nov. 15         Cleveland, Ohio                           Agora Ballroom                         This gig was sponsored by Cleveland's WMMS Radio as part of their Night Out series and was recorded by the station.  It was broadcast in an edited form, probably a few days later, but exactly when is unknown.  During Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It, John broke the head of his snare drum.  At the conclusion of the song, he pretended to cry while yelling out what had happened.  The head had to be replaced during his comic speech that followed.  During the second half of the concert, one overzealous fan repeatedly yelled out at the top of his lungs for the band to play Knots.  He finally got his wish by the first encore.  A tape of the complete performance, recorded by a fan in the audience, also exists, showing that John actually sang during the blues intro to Excerpts from Octopus, although this was not part of the radio broadcast.  Dr. Feelgood was scheduled to open but did not.  Instead, a guitarist from Cincinnati named Sandy Nassan played in the support slot.  For Nobody from this radio broadcast appears as a bonus track on the 2005 MISSING PIECE 35th anniversary CD reissue.  The entire radio broadcast has now been officially released on the 2013 MEMORIES OF OLD DAYS compilation.

Nov. 16         Hempstead, New York                 Calderone Concert Hall             Dr. Feelgood was the opening act and was again not well received.  For that matter, during many of their songs, even Giant had to endure a lot of talking and shouting from the ill-mannered audience.  A fan at one of the band’s Hempstead shows recalls presenting John Weathers with a drawing of a couple of the band's album covers.  Impressed, John read the attached note to the crowd, then placed the drawing on the front of his bass drum, where it stayed for the remainder of the show.  It may very well have been this show.  In quite a startling typographical error, Rolling Stone magazine advertised this and most of the following American GG concerts as being Steve Miller concerts.

Nov. 17         Asbury Park, New Jersey             Convention Centre - Paramount Theater                                          The Paramount was a grand movie theater from the 1920’s.  This was the first gig after Dr. Feelgood left the tour.  Taking their place as openers was a funk/rock quintet called Law.  Two separate fans have recalled that the show was not well attended, possibly due to a bad rainstorm that took place on that day.  A fan at the show had some sort of big, home-made green flag, possibly with a MISSING PIECE design, and John ended up with this flag, waving it around the stage.  Reportedly, much of this tourist town was shut down for the upcoming winter and even the roadies were forced to stay in a run-down hotel and had trouble finding a decent restaurant.  Originally, the band planned on performing at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey before switching to Asbury Park.

 

 

Asbury Park backstage pass    Nov. 17, 1977

 

 

Nov. 18         Chester, Pennsylvania                 Widener College - Schwartz Physical Education Center                                A soundboard recording of this show is known to exist in a band member’s possession.  On this night, Dr. Feelgood’s replacement as opener was a band called Baby Grand, which later evolved into the Hooters.  At this concert, all who brought canned goods with them to be donated to the local Salvation Army charity drive received a discount on the admission price.  During the acoustic guitar portion of Excerpts from Octopus, Gary played a small bit of Peel the Paint several times, while teasing the audience to guess its title.  During John’s vibraphone playing, one fan recalls him acting the wild man and repeatedly raving at the crowd.  In fact, while John was singing at the vibraphone during On Reflection, a few eager fans playfully tried to distract him.  In retaliation, he spit beer at the offending fans before laughing maniacally and running back to his drum kit.  The rest of the crowd was certainly receptive enough and quite polite, remaining seated the entire time.  This allowed one member of the audience to repeatedly run to the front, camera in hand, to take a series of close-up photos.  In several of them, it is revealed that Derek not only dressed in his legendary white jumpsuit, but was also not above occasionally unbuttoning it down to his navel, making quite the fashion statement.  Although held in the University’s gymnasium, the sound quality on this night was fairly decent, due to the band’s hanging huge black curtains all around the room.

 

         

 

Chester - Derek Shulman’s jumpsuit and newspaper photo    Nov. 18, 1977

 

 

Nov. 20         Chicago, Illinois                           Uptown Theater                        Law again played support.  In an interview before the show, Gary professed anger at the intolerance Giant fans had shown towards Dr. Feelgood and other opening acts on many stops of this tour.  According to one eyewitness, the audience on this night was very well-dressed and mostly well-behaved, more resembling a classical audience, at least during Giant's set.  Reportedly, though, the crowd did boo a bit during Bethcha Thought We Couldn't Do It.  Another uncomfortable moment came when, during a quiet guitar section, an unruly audience member near the front loudly voiced his impatience by yelling out “do it, you jerk!”.  Gary looked out, with his pick in his mouth, but Ray responded with a derogatory finger gesture.  The audience cheered at this, the dramatic effect heightened when a light operator put a spotlight on the finger.  During his introduction to Funny Ways, John told Kerry, who wrote the song, that he didn't particularly enjoy playing it night after night.  Although probably tongue-in-cheek, the band no doubt were tired of that particular song by this point.  An audience member remembers the group playing Who Do You Think You Are? and even seems to recall Derek acting out some of the lyrics while singing them, although none of this is confirmed.  This was Gary's birthday and he was presented with a birthday cake during the show.  In the brief celebration of the moment, the cake was almost dropped but the crowd did get to sing Happy Birthday to Gary.  The theater was an old building which seated over 3000 and was Ray's favorite venue in Chicago. 

Nov. 21         Stevens Point, Wisconsin             University of Wisconsin - Quandt Fieldhouse                                               Law was the opening band.  The University’s Athletic Department sponsored the concert as a fundraising event.

Nov. 22         Milwaukee, Wisconsin                  Oriental Landmark Theater        It had been believed this very interesting show was changed to Dec. 3, but it did occur on Nov. 22, as originally scheduled.  Although some reports claimed there was no opener, Law did again play support.  A review in the Milwaukee Sentinel stated that, although Giant’s quieter numbers could be heard with clarity in the venue, louder pieces were quite distorted.  One person in the audience at the show managed to get Derek's attention by constantly yelling out for the band to play the Allman Brothers' Whipping Post.  While singing I'm Turning Around, Derek had money pinned to his clothing.  When he reached the line, "where's the love that you once promised?", he tore off a bill and sang to it, eliciting a chuckle from the audience.  It’s interesting to note that there are two separate reports that the band played Who Do You Think You Are? during the show, which can be added to the same rumor from the night before.  If these reports are true, it would have made for quite an unusual occurrence, as that song is not confirmed to ever have turned up in any other concert.  Whatever the case, it is known that the band did perform a snippet of the Abba tune, Money, Money, Money at one point during this concert.  They did occasionally play Abba music during their soundchecks, Abba being a band at least a couple band members professed to admiring.  Since this was the final gig of the tour, the band handed out prizes to the roadies during the show, an event which Derek has since recalled with embarrassment.  Also, towards the end of the show, John made fun of Milwaukee’s heritage as a beer-producing capital, claiming American beer to be substandard, compared to British beer.  To drive home his point, he walked right into the audience handing out bottles of Guinness Extra Stout.  This show was held in a 2100 seat theater, but had an actual attendance of only around 800.  This was the only Milwaukee show GG ever headlined.

 

       

 

Milwaukee - ads with incorrect and correct opening act    Nov. 22, 1977

 

 

            1978

 

 

Jan. 5            The BBC filmed Giant at the Golders Green Hippodrome in Golders Green, England.  The concert, probably filmed in the afternoon, was intended for broadcast on the Sight and Sound TV program later in the year.  This was the first time the group had played in England since the spring of 1976 and it was also the last time they ever played there.

 

Jan. 21          The BBC Sight and Sound TV program was first broadcast.  This was the only live performance by Gentle Giant ever shown on British television.  It was also simulcast on British FM radio in quadraphonic.  This performance holds the distinction of appearing on more official releases than any other Gentle Giant show.  Most of this broadcast appears on the 1994 IN CONCERT album, while all of it is included on OUT OF THE FIRE and again on the MEMORIES OF OLD DAYS compilation.  The entire performance appears yet again, in both audio and video formats, on the GG AT THE GG DVD where it can be accompanied by a commentary track by all five band members.

 

 

BBC “Sight and Sound” TV broadcast and radio simulcast listing    Jan. 21, 1978

 

 

Apr. - May     The band continued its musical redirection by recording its tenth album, GIANT FOR A DAY, mostly at Ramport Studios in Battersea, England, though parts were done at Maison Rouge Studio and Scorpio Sound.  The album featured more straight-ahead rock songs, and many today consider the album somewhat of a failure.

 

Aug. 19         The BBC Sight and Sound TV program, filmed in Golders Green on Jan 5, was rebroadcast in a slightly different edited form than was used for the original broadcast on Jan. 21.  At some point, portions of this concert were also broadcast over the radio on England's BBC Rock Hour, hosted by Brian Matthew, but when is not known.  Portions also turned up on American FM radio at some unknown time.

 

Sep. 11         It's believed that this is the date that the GIANT FOR A DAY album was released in America.

 

 

Billboard in West Hollywood, California advertising US release of GIANT FOR A DAY album    late 1978

 

 

Sep. 29         GIANT FOR A DAY was released in England.

 

???               The group made lip-synched promotional films at Capitol Studios in West Hollywood, California, for three of the songs on GIANT FOR A DAY.  These songs were Words From the Wise, Thank You and the title song, Giant For a Day.  The Words From the Wise film is included, as a video bonus track, on the 2005 GIANT FOR A DAY 35th anniversary CD reissue, while all three films are included on the GG AT THE GG DVD.

 

 

            For the first time, the band organized no tour in support of their current album. Instead, they decided to take a long overdue break from live appearances, not performing live at all for most of 1978, all of 1979, and the first few months of 1980.  Some promoters had made offers of tours, including one in Portugal, but the band declined.  Another interesting offer that came the band’s way was an invitation to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland, but it’s not known if that occurred during this particular time period.  Whenever it was, that offer was also turned down.

             

 

            1979

 

 

???               The date is not known, but one or more of the band’s lip-synched promotional films from the GIANT FOR A DAY album were shown on Osaka TV in Japan in either 1978 or 1979.

 

???               An unconfirmed report has Giant For a Day and Words From the Wise appearing on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand program in America in either 1978 or 1979.  This was a well-known Saturday morning dance program with definite pop leanings.  The most startling thing about this alleged appearance is that, although the promotional film of Giant For a Day was said to be shown, the film of Words From the Wise was not.  For that song, the band is said to have actually appeared live on the program miming to the studio recording.  No corroborating evidence of this Bandstand appearance has yet been found.

 

May 5            The promotional films for the songs Giant For a Day and Words From the Wise were definitely broadcast on this date on the NBC TV program, Don Kirschner's Rock Concert.  It’s been said that this was actually a rebroadcast from an earlier Don Kirchner episode back in February, but this is probably not the case.  Other acts on this same May broadcast included the Village People, Jan and Dean, Joan Armatrading and Leo Sayer.  The film of Thank You does not appear to have been shown.

 

 

Complete lineup of Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert episode    May 5, 1979

 

 

Mid 1979       John wrote and recorded a demo of the song You Haven't a Chance for possible inclusion on the band's next album.  This did not come about, but the song finally appeared on the UNDER CONSTRUCTION album.

 

???               At some point in 1979, the band held some rehearsals in Atlanta, Georgia, at the home of radio consultant Lee Abrams who assisted on their next album.  At least one new untitled composition was recorded at these rehearsals and surfaced on the UNDER CONSTRUCTION album.

 

Aug. - Nov.   After as many as nine months of songwriting and rehearsal, the group's eleventh and final album, CIVILIAN, was recorded mostly at Sound City in Van Nuys, California, with some overdubs at Bijou Studio in West Hollywood, California and Wessex Studio in London, England.  By this time, their musical change of style was complete.  The songs they included on this album bore little resemblance to the progressive body of work they had produced earlier.  Although the recording of this album was spread out over a few months, the group's total amount of time in the studio was actually quite limited.  It is also known that the band spent about five months together living in Los Angeles in 1979, an experience not enjoyed by all members.

 

Go on to   Part Eight

 

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