Gentle Giant live in Neuchâtel, now on CD!
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. The band is
fantastic and I was born in Basel anyway, so... :-)
And here's 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... the advertisement
'poster' for the gig looked a follows...
I followed the band on my motorbike and then (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
thought, that we organised that wine festival for them, too! :-)
Banco's singer on the church's pulpit, holding a firy sermon of
here's the crew setting up gear (shot taken from the a.m.
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
On the left's a Chianti bottle covered with marzipan ("Power and the
Glory"), from which a marzipan tongue's sticking out ("Acquiring the
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
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...
...anyway, another story I'll never forget, was: 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
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 to me, "You don't have to worry - the people won't
know that it's not GG themselves 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), I
DIED! But - English understatement, I guess - they quickly "picked me up"
and let me know that this was just a little revenge for the scene at the
soundcheck earlier in the afternoon, when they set up the vibraphone (I had
never played one before): I couldn't help but go and tickle it. As I knew
Giant's music to some extent, I ventured to play the melody from "On
Reflection"... Suddenly, one of the musicians turned up behind my back and,
of course, I shivered with embarrassment.
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 record of the
show which I had made at a friend's. He 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 - nothing to do with
commercializing the music. I'm a musician myself and can very well relate how
pissed of one would be, if it'd been bootlegged... :-) ........ and today,
GG themselves did release it!
Looks, like this event certainly was a plus in the hectic
and demanding touring schedule of Gentle Giant at the time.
hefty 40 years later, Gentle Giant still is very present to me as an active
musician and just recently, I made a collage and include it in one of my own tracks - see
track info of "SHA"..(track
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... :-) )...
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