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.
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.
- Bass solo (aka Hair Pie Bake III)
- Suction Prints
- Low Yo Yo Stuff
- Bat Chain Puller
- I Wanna Find A Woman That ‘ll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go
- Abba Zaba
- Band Introductions
- Dali’s Car
- One Nest Rolls After Another (poem)
- The Dust Blows Forward And The Dust Blows Back
- Nowadays A Woman’s Got To Hit A Man
- Click Clack
- Grow Fins
- Golden Birdies
- A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond
- China Pig
- Sun Zoom Spark
- My Human Gets Me Blues
- Floppy Boot Stomp
- Moonlight On Vermont
- Owed T’Alex
- Old Black Snake (few lines only)
- Pachuco Cadaver
- Veteran’s Day Poppy
- The Blimp (performed by Harry Duncan, Beefheart’s current manager)
- 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
Thanks to Christophe Guais for help with the information about the location of this gig.