October I, 1976         Neuchâtel, Switzerland         Temple du Bas

I recorded this concert on a Uher 4400 tape-recorder but – obviously – never gave any copy to anybody to do so, proof of which: it is known from the ‘GG diaspora and frenzy’ that this concert has never been released – so far! – as bootleg.
A fantastic box-set has been released (just received it today!) which includes plenty live footage (plenty other live gigs and parapharnalia and hair and all) being fully authorised and endorsed by all the boys in the band.
Unfortunately, this Snapper release provides some mix-ups about the Swiss gigs, e.g. the pic below is where the gig discribed here happened in Neuchâtel / 1976, not in St. Gallen / 1975. In this new “Giant complete”-box, the church is shown on St. Gallen-gig-CD…. However, the box is fantastic.

more details of the Neuchâtel gig:

 view from the ‘balcony’ of the church down to the stage

viw from the stage to the ‘balcony’ – where GG are about to install the ‘quadrophenia’ (for Ray Shulman’s violin-solo)

I was 24 years old when I launched the Neuchâtel show and very, very enthusiastic about Gentle Giant…

…went as far as to print T-shirts…

…followed the band on my motorbike from Bern, guided their gear-truck into the city of Neuchâtel.  This was very difficult at that time of year because the whole city was into its traditional wine festival, so it was almost impossible to access the venue with a big truck.
The whole city was on its feet, so when the band left the venue, Pugwash (and Gary) thought, that the wine festival was organized for them…

Banco’s singer on the church’s pulpit, holding a firy sermon of flabbergasting blasphemy…

Alex Rabus painted this (huge painting) called “Gentle Giant”. So we brought that painting downstairs close to the dressing room, where we also laid out a formidable catered feast for the two bands, Gentle Giant and openers Banco.  Then there was Alex’s wife, Renate, who made this big five-story cake (it was excellent) and they decorated it with the motives of all the GG records recorded so far (up to “Interview”).

Check all of the motives of GG’s albums uptil 1976: the rainbow from “Interview” on top, upon which was fixed the “Free Hand”.  Another pair of tied-up hands, in white, was placed on the right side.  On the left’s a Chianti bottle covered with marzipan (“Power and the Glory”), from which a marzipan tongue’s sticking out (“Acquiring the Taste”). On top of the cake’s that great “Octopus” (also in marzipan).  Only “In a Glass House” was less obvious. You can see a few scattered pieces of glass in the black and white shot and the little „Runaway“ figure.

The painting in the background is that “Gentle Giant” painting/fresco of Alex Rabus (he worked about 2 years on that one!)  It was really funny to see the musicians staring at that cake.  None of them dared to cut the cake because it was too beautiful, but Derek (or Ray) threw himself onto the three little knitted friends, knitted with loving detail, the “Three Friends”‘s motives on the back, and pocketed them as souvenirs.  Only later did Banco swallow the cake almost in one gulp!

(The two statues in the background  belong to the infrastructure of the venue).

And it sure wasn’t just another gig for me.  I mean, even with all the work that had to be done to launch the show itself, with all the obstacles you encounter always when you do such a thing, with all the animosity coming from the “jealous others” (after all, this was only Neuchâtel’s second “big” concert – otherwise the town had been as provincial as a Swiss town can be), I was determined to make it an unforgettable happening.  Alone on board with a few friends that helped at the commands, (all keypositions ran exclusively/mostly by “my good woomen”), So nothing was left to hazard, everything  meticulously planned, things ran firmly in the best of good vibes on all parts, no nasty stories about it – thanks so much, my ladies!

Below are two scetches of Alex’s drawings, how the cake of Renate was going to look…

Ray backstage

But this concert wasn’t the only thing happening: on that same day, October 1, I opened my  own record-store (Victor Disques) within the “Jazzland”_JazzClub…

Trivia: On GG’s technical rider there was a point that I couldn’t fulfill.  It was a call for an electrical safety box that was to be placed right beside the stage.  One person was to sit at this safety box during the group’s performance.  Now, if any musician were to get “stuck” to an electrical current (a lot of musicians have died that way – Keith Relf and others), then the person at the safety switch was to shut it off, so a life could be saved.

However, the venue (the renowned ‘Temple du Bas’ – a beautiful church in the heart of the old city, as seen in the photo of the stage) was just completely renovated and was built to host events of all kind.  In other words, there was a brand new infrastructure in terms of lights, stage and, of course, all electrical wiring was new – and Swiss-safe. We have these F1 plugs built into the wall wiring that makes the fuses jump when there is a short circuit.  Besides, it was the wine festival and the all the crews of the city’s electrical services were on the run to install all the wiring for those little stands in the streets where they’d sell wine, barbeque etc.
When I told Giant that at the soundcheck, they made grim faces. A little later, I went down to the dressing room and I saw the roadies dressed in the band’s stage costumes.   I said, “What the hell is going on here?”  And I was told, “Well, you see, Gentle Giant is on the verge of taking off internationally in terms of success, like Tull, Yes, or Genesis, so they can’t take the risk of going on an unsafe stage.”  The roadies said they would perform the show instead.
Then they gave me some live examples of how skilled they were by playing me licks from the band’s repertoire (and actually, quite well did the roadies played those).  They said: “Don’t worry – people won’t know that it’s not GG personally but just us roadies.”  The audience would get the music of Gentle Giant just the same and that would suffice.

As I was very excitable (and exhausted from all the preparatory work), they quickly “picked me up” and let me know that this was just a little revenge for the scene at the soundcheck, when  I dared tickling the vibraphone, tickling a line from “On Reflection”…

Maybe a year later, I saw the band again and showed them the great photo album I had made of the Neuchâtel show and had them sign a wax-matrix/record of the show.  Benoit Zimmermann had one of those fantastic wax-engravers with which you could “make an LP”.  You had to cut it LP by LP, so it was a very personal, individual thing – no way to bootleg commercialy…

Looks, like this event remains a plus in the hectic and demanding touring schedule of Gentle Giant.
Even today, 40 years later, Gentle Giant remains a monolith a rock music… a collage of bits and pieces is includee on track 3 on “SHA”.
At a “Three Friends”_gig in Würzburg I met Gary and gave him a few CD’s of my own works and asked him, if he’d be on the boat for a some guitarwork as a session player on a next venture. (He declined very politely, saying he was just a little blues-player in Chicago… 🙂 )…