Gentle Giant - "Giant on the Box" (Alucard 106 min.)

"Playing the Fool" was for several decades the only official document of Gentle Giant live. And no matter how good that album is, it didn't give you a chance to SEE the band perform, and that's completely necessary to fully understand Gentle Giant's incredible range as multi-instrumentalists. "Giant on the Box" is produced and released by the band, making sure that what you get is high quality from beginning to end. The first and probably best feature on the DVD is a 50-minute concert from 1974 from German TV in studio with audience. Right from the start with "Cogs in Cogs" you'll understand that you're in for an extremely powerful and punchy concert. The band rocks really hard and loud, and plays their very complex and demanding music with ease. Derek Shulman is a very charismatic front man and John Weathers is sure an energetic and aggressive drummer. Kerry Minnear switches quickly from cello to an insane vibraphone solo during "Funny Ways", while Ray Shulman alternates between bass and trumpet on the same song. "The Runaway" is as hard as it probably can get in this version, and is connected with "Experience" through a short synth solo. The clavinet was obviously one of Minnear's favourite keyboards live, as he used it more here than he ever did in studio. The acoustic duet between Gary Green and Ray Shulman in "Features from Octopus" is a breathtaking sight, but "The Advent of Panurge" is naturally the highlight of the medley, of course featuring the recorder trio in the middle. "So Sincere" ends with every member of the band bashing away on various drums and percussions, making a very rhythmic finale to an incredible show. The next feature is 30 minutes from a concert in 1975 from California. The audience is a bit bigger here, and the hall is larger and more open. The tracklist is similar to the one from the German show, but without "The Runaway" and the tracks from "The Power and the Glory". The highlight for me here is a beautiful "Experience". By the way, check out Minnear's legs during the heavy parts of the song. It's surely some of the most feminine and ridiculous movements ever made by a man. From the German news show "Szene '74" we're getting a three-minute extract of a jam from "In a Glass House". If the rest of this show exists on film, PLEASE release it guys! Among the bonus features of the DVD is "Baroque & Roll", a documentary from Italian TV in black and white. It's basically an interview with the band, interspersed with clips from a performance of the "Octopus" medley. Sadly, the interview has annoyingly been translated to Italian by an overdubbed voice! This section should of course have some subtitles, but that's also the only complaint I have about this release. "Giant on the Box" is one of the best progressive rock DVDs you'll see. I guess that should be a pretty good reason to get it.

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