Memory:Duane Day

From The Gentle Giant Home Page
This fan memory was written by Duane Day.

The venue for the Santa Barbara '76 was the Arlington Theater, and by the way they did not open for Yes that night, rather playing about 2 1/2 hours themselves with - as I remember - no opener or other band on the bill. It was my first GG concert and my favorite that I saw.

Seeing them several days later doing a 30 or 40 minute set opening for Yes at the Cow Palace was really a disappointment - the sound for GG was terrible. I remember at one point Weathers starting a marimba solo and just holding up the sticks in frustration as he realized that the marimba mics were not turned up at all. The material and arrangements were similar to the contents of Playing the Fool.

The third and last time I saw them was in San Jose, I think the year was 77 or 78. They were supposed to be the openers for Pablo Cruise. The venue was the San Jose Center for Performing Arts, a pretty nice venue where the San Jose symphony does most of its performances. We were treated to an unannounced opening act, a country rock band that - I swear to God - had a tumbleweed blow across the stage as part of their show. Then an announcement - for some reason (GG hadn't shown up yet? Pablo Cruise didn't want to wait around? it never was clear) Pablo Cruise was going to go on next, followed by GG.

This was at a point when Pablo Cruise's popularity was rising, so the crowd was real enthusiastic during their set. (They did have a good pianist in Cory Lerios.) Then they finished their set, and we noticed a fair number of people taking off - they weren't interested enough in GG to even wait and check them out.

Then GG came out and began their set, if I remember right, with the Runaway. Very quickly huge throngs of Pablo Cruise fans began heading for the aisles and out the door. There were probably only a couple hundred people left in the venue for most of GG's set. The upside was that I was able to upgrade my location from 20th row to 2nd row, which was a wonderful treat.

It was a great show but I didn't enjoy it as much as the Santa Barbara show; I think a lot of the material played that night wound up on The Missing Piece, and I missed the complexity, the dissonance, and the all-around weirdness of the earlier material.