Speedwagon Outdistanced by Gentle Giant
- The following review is of Gentle Giant's concert at the Commodore Cabaret (ne Ballroom), October 23, 1975, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It is taken from The Vancouver Sun newspaper and was written by Nick Collier.
Thursday night's concert in the Commodore Cabaret (which used to be the Commodore Ballroom until the liquor administration branch tyrants decided that a ballroom could not have a cabaret licence) was an exercise in management confusion. It also served as a juxtaposition on the vitally expressive to he hopelessly banal.
The original plans for the concerthad scheduled the group Status Quo with top billing, and Gentle Giant as the second act. When a member of Status Quo fell ill, the band canceled its appearance.
This occurrence left the promoter of the concert with a hole to fill, and R.E.O. Speedwagon was hired as the replacement. R.E.O. slipped into the top spot, and therefore was the last band to appear. This sequence of events, which supposedly allows the opening band to build the anticipation of the audience to the point of ecstasy, was a disaster.
Gentle Giant was by far the superior band, and half the audience left after its performance. The group chose material from The Power and the Glory, Octopus, and Free Hand for the set, and although listening to these albums can be initially bewildering, the result of their rendition in live performance is outstanding.
The roster appears to be fairly innocuous: Derek Shulman, vocals, sax and guitar; Kerry Minnear, keyboards and cello; Gary Green, lead guitar; John Weathers, drums; Ray Shulman, bass, guitar and violin. However, reality showed them to be versatile, switching instruments at will, going from acoustic to electric at a moment's notice, and even indulging in tribal drumming when every member of the band became a percussionist.
There was a stress on keyboards but yet a multi-faceted air persisted, each instrument following individual progression, then returning to a basic melody line. Sudden stops would break the pattern characterized by random noises produced through synthesis. The reaction of the listeners to this disjointed framework was amazing. They cheered and clamored for an encore, got it, and continued demanding that the band return to the stage again. Unfortunately, Gentle Giant was forced to relinquish its place to R.E.O. Speedwagon.
This band's last album was entitled This Time We Mean It, and I could but wish that they did not. R.E.O. played noisily and without identity, in a style repeated continually by playing to the simple requirements of dancers. The result was far from enlightening and did nothing to further the art of music.