1977.11.19 Paris

On the 19 November 1977 Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band played a gig, Fete du P.S.U, at Le Nouvel Hippodrome, in Paris. This was a two-day music festival in aid of the French National Socialist Party. An audience of about 10,000 under a big top! Other acts included Buffy St Marie, David Allen’s Gong, Tim Blake’s Crystal Machine, Tania Maria and the Mike Westbrook Orchestra.

The Hippodrome de Pantin, Le Nouvel Hippodrome, was a permanent circus located in the Parc de la Villette, near the Porte de Pantin metro station in the north-east of Paris.

This was the only performance by the band in UK or Europe between November 1975 and October 1980. Although there are unconfirmed rumours of a show in Sweden after this Paris event.

The band

Don Van Vliet – vocals, sax, harmonica
Denny Walley – guitar
Jeff Moris Tepper – guitar
Eric Drew Feldman – bass, keyboards
Robert Williams – drums
Harry Duncan – vocals, harmonica

The gig lasted over an hour and a half with an impressive set list.

Set list

  1. Bass solo (aka Hair Pie Bake III)
  2. Suction Prints
  3. Low Yo Yo Stuff
  4. Bat Chain Puller
  5. I Wanna Find A Woman That ‘ll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go
  6. Abba Zaba
  7. Band Introductions
  8. Dali’s Car
  9. One Nest Rolls After Another (poem)
  10. The Dust Blows Forward And The Dust Blows Back
  11. Nowadays A Woman’s Got To Hit A Man
  12. Click Clack
  13. Grow Fins
  14. Golden Birdies
  15. Electricity
  16. A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond
  17. China Pig
  18. Sun Zoom Spark
  19. My Human Gets Me Blues
  20. Floppy Boot Stomp
  21. Moonlight On Vermont
  22. Owed T’Alex
  23. Old Black Snake (few lines only)
  24. Pachuco Cadaver
  25. Veteran’s Day Poppy
  26. The Blimp (performed by Harry Duncan, Beefheart’s current manager)
  27. Big Eyed Beans From Venus

I haven’t come across any reviews of the show but Don mentioned it in interviews with some music papers at the time.

Sounds: 12 December 1977

The people were dancing to Trout Mask Replica music! I mean dancing! In France!

Melody Maker: 12 December 1977

This band is so good – the best I have ever had! They play with a smile. They really breathe up there when they are playing. After all this time I have finally found the band I’m looking for. It’s amazing! Playing with this group is like going for a walk: they are so happy when they play. People I meet from the audience have been coming up and telling me how pleased they are that I have finally found a band that I am content with – and they are right.

The gig we played in Paris was monstrous. It was three days ago, but I haven’t slept since – it was so good! And my voice, well, I can still feel that show in my voice. It hit me so hard I am down to three octaves …. I couldn’t get over the way the audience was singing along with it, singing the words back at me in English – and I don’t speak a word of french.

This group, I tell you, I couldn’t believe that there were such nice people still around on this earth. True, they are playing what I have written, but they really are playing. This band is moving so fast that very soon I won’t have to tell them anything. I really must say: this band is the best ….

A good audience recording of the show exists and can be found on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyRTU4Dl_eU


Poor quality image of a poster for the show.


Thanks to Christophe Guais for help with the information about the location of this gig.

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