Friday, 22 July 2011

Gentle Giant - Live in Stokholm '75

It's been a year since I saw the reunion of Three Friends, featuring Gary Green, Kerry Minnear and Malcolm Mortimore, at Musikens hus in Gothenburg and I still have very strong memories of that wonderful gig. While there, chatting before the show, I met quite a few people who attended the '75 Stockholm show and spoke very fondly of the whole experience telling me that it would be a great honor to revisit a Gentle Giant performance almost 35 years later!

Unlike many of the British acts of their time, Gentle Giants live performances were just as notorious as their studio releases. Listening to this 2009 release of the 1975 live recording from Stockholm University's Kårhuset I can clearly see why. Not only do the band members manage to recreate the compositions in the live setting but they also elevate them to a whole new level. This was, after all, the band's golden era period where they could pretty much do no wrong and it shows on each one of these performances.

The set-list features an unexpected range of tracks mainly from the three consecutive masterpiece released by the band after the departure of Phil Shulman in 1972. These are: The Runaway/Experience from In A Glass House, Proclamation, Cogs In Cogs and So Sincere from The Power And The Glory, a loose instrumental adaptation of Plain Truth from Acquiring The Taste followed by two new tracks from the 1975 release Free Hand.

First off, let me put your worries to rest about the sound quality since this release has an excellent sound for its time. Each instrument is distinguishable from the mix and the audience participation, although present, doesn't distract from the performance even in such quiet moments like the first part of Experience. This is definitely a major improvement for us who hated the live sound featured on the bonus tracks on the remastered edition of In A Glass House. I definitely think that everyone who attended the concert will be able to fully relive the memories and nostalgia that they have for the performance by listening to this album!

The first few tracks do deviate from their studio counterparts on a few occasions but it's towards the album's second part, starting with So Sincere, that the band begins to loosen up the material and we get some truly extraordinary results. First off the 4 minute So Sincere has been expanded to an 11 minute mark by a jamming middle section followed by drum & vibraphone solo spot outro. Plus we get a vocal duet between Derek and Kerry! Plain Truth isn't really the straight forward composition that we all rememberer so well from the band's second album. Instead we get a very loose instrumental version of the track that doesn't feature a single uttered vocal line. Finally, the two Free Hand tracks have also been slightly expanded by added jam moments that definitely leave the crowd screaming for more!

Overall this is an excellent Gentle Giant live release that should have a place in every prog rock collection right next to Playing The Fool and Giant On The Box!

***** star songs: So Sincere (11:03)

**** star songs: Cogs In Cogs (3:16) Proclamation (5:33) The Runaway/Experience (10:07) Plain Truth (8:21) Free Hand (7:09) Just The Same (6:07)

GENTLE GIANT Live In Stockholm '75 music reviews and MP3(Review from progarchiv)

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Cogs In Cogs (3:30)
2. Proclamation (3:18)
3. The Runaway/Experience (10:08)
4. So Sincere (11:05)
5. Plain Truth (8:01)
6. Free Hand (7:20)
7. Just The Same (6:23)

Total Time 49:05
Line-up / Musicians
- Gary Green / electric guitar, acoustic guitar, 12 string guitar, alto recorder, descant recorder, vocals, percussion
- Kerry Minnear / keyboards, cello, vibes, tenor recorder, vocals, percussion
- Derek Shulman / vocals, alto sax, descant recorder, bass, percussion
- Ray Shulman / bass, violin, acoustic guitar, descant recorder, trumpet, vocals, percussion
- John Weathers / drums, vibes, tambour, vocals, percussion

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