Archive for the ‘Gentle Giant’ Category

Gentle Giant Sunderland Locarno 21st April 1972

Gentle Giant Sunderland Locarno 21st April 1972
imageThis was a strange tour. Prog rock band Gentle Giant toured the UK as support for “Jimi plays Berkeley”, which was a film of a Jimi Hendrix concert. “Jimi Plays Berkeley” was never intended for official release but was hurriedly put together as a film shortly after Hendrix’s untimely death, and was put out on an European tour complete with support acts, which was Gentle Giant in the UK. Because everyone was so hungry for anything to do with Hendrix, it became one of the most popular music films of its era. The film features excerpts of performances by Jimi, bassist Billy Cox, and drummer Mitch Mitchell from two concerts. They perform “Purple Haze”, “Machine Gun”, “Voodoo Child” “Star Spangled Banner” and “Johnny B. Goode.”
I found this fascinating write-up of the tour on the excellent Gentle Giant tour history site: “…the tour may have been a somewhat humiliating experience for the group, as they actually had to serve as the opening act for a movie, the Jimi Hendrix live concert film, Jimi Plays Berkeley. Certain ads for the tour had the band’s name in large, bold print, as if they were headlining, but they did, in fact, take the stage first each night, before the movie. This tour also had its share of problems, supposedly. At one gig, the film never arrived. At another unknown date on the tour, Giant’s equipment didn’t arrive, due to a van breakdown, so they were unable to perform. This also caused a further problem for the film, as the band’s PA system was supposed to be used for the soundtrack. Roadie Phil Freeman recalls that the angry crowd actually beat up the projectionist on this occasion, out of frustration…..” I recall very little about Gentle Giant’s set but I do remember a long wait before the film was shown. I think the film was travelling separately to the band. When it finally arrived it was a bit of a let down as the makeshift projection and screen facilities weren’t great in the ballroom and the picture and sound were poor.
Gentle Giant’s line-up at the time was Gary Green (guitar), Kerry Minnear (keyboards), Derek Shulman (lead vocals, saxophone), Phil Shulman (lead vocals, saxophone, trumpet), Ray Shulman (bass, trumpet, violin) and John “Pugwash” Weathers (drums, percussion). They were formed by the Shulman brothers from the remnants of Simon Dupree and the Big Sounds of “Kites” fame. The band’s aim was to “expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of becoming very unpopular”. Gentle Giant were much more experimental than other bands of the prog genre, making their music much less accessible and more difficult to get into than say Genesis, Yes or King Crimson. This concert was at the time of their third lp, “Three Friends”.
Gentle Giant’s setlist is likely to have consisted of the following songs: Prologues, Alucard, Funny ways, Nothing at all, Schooldays, Plain Truth, the Queen.
I saw Gentle Giant once more around the same time, supporting the Groundhogs at Newcastle City Hall.

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