Mahavishnu Orchestra 2: Gig List
Shortly after Bathed In Lightning was published, including the ebook version and separately available ebook ‘extras’ – both of which included my attempt at an MO2 gig list – Mark Robinson got in touch with a few additional dates. Over the next few months Mark sent further dates and eventually, at Christmas 2014, the full list presented below, with various illustrations and quotes of his choice sourced from the book and elsewhere. Since Christmas 2014, Mark’s come up with a couple of further dates, which I’ve added in.

Mark’s sources for all these additional dates are various online resources (odd recollections of dates by promoters and gig attenders, vintage adverts, etc) as well as Billboard. He’s done a tremendous job. No doubt various dates throughout 1974-75 are still missing, but the only significantly lean period, where information has proven elusive, is October-November 1975, when the band was winding down. I suspect that dates in this period were probably contractual obligations, scattered shows rather than a bona fide final tour.

I’ve resisted the urge to add information on which shows exist in full or in part as ‘Recordings Of Independent Origin’, from broadcast or audience sources. The ebook of Bathed In Lightning includes that information in the context of my original MO2 gig listing, but further additions can doubtless be made. A project for another time, I think.


Colin Harper, June 2015


Unveiling

1974

Feb 21 Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo NY
New band debut performing “Hymn To Him” with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas

Joseph D’Anna: ‘It was snowing and I had to get the equipment up there. The band wore tuxedos but the orchestra was dressed in everyday clothes. It was reversed. I never saw John so nervous as when he walked onstage. It was a big deal for him.’


John McLaughlin: ‘The main reason I get nervous is pure vanity.’


Ralphe Armstrong: ‘It was our very first concert. I can’t see John as ever being nervous. But, there was so much music he had to get together.’


Michael Walden: ‘We only played one piece that was 20 minutes long. I stood on the stage and there were people applauding. I didn’t want to walk off the stage. They had to come get me!’


First U.S. Tour
May 1 Daughters Of The American Revolution Hall, Washington DC
Jean-Luc Ponty: ‘Narada and me looked at each other and went, Wow! We were stunned by the energy we had put out onstage.’

May 2 Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, Columbus OH
May 3 Cincinnati OH
May 4 Cleveland OH
May 6 Masonic Temple Auditorium, Detroit MI
May 8 Riverside Theater, Milwaukee WI
‘Trading rapid-fire licks over an uptempo beat, ascetic McLaughlin and bohemian Ponty made an odd couple. All the while, McLaughlin wrenched searing lyricisms from his odd, double-necked guitar, with Ponty in hot artistic pursuit. The songs of the Orchestra flowed into each other and were mostly unfamiliar to the audience. Hymns to the Mahavishnu’s guru, the extended compositions were all meant as part of a marathon religious experience.’ Milwaukee Journal, 9/5/74

May 9 Auditorium Theater, Chicago IL
May 11 RKO Orpheum Theater, Davenport IA
May 14 Pantages Playhouse Theater, Winnipeg, Canada
Support by Mood Jga Jga
May 15 Centre Of The Arts, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Support by Wascana
May 25 Warnor’s Theater, Fresno CA
May 26 Winterland, San Fransisco, CA
Journey and The Tubes also appear

Phil Hirschi: ‘It was more ‘majestic orchestral’ rather than ‘ecstatic orgasmic’. No doubt audiences came expecting one kind of sound and got another.’


Jun 1 Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica CA
Journey also appear
Jun 2 Tucson Music Hall, Tucson, AZ
Jun 4 Civic Auditorium, Pasadena CA
Jun 11 Dallas TX
Jun 15 The Capitol, Passaic NJ
Jun 19 Spectrum, Philadelphia PA

Jun 24 Schaefer Music Festival, Central Park, New York NY
‘Mr McLaughlin and his cohorts throw themselves into the same sort of feverish jazz improvisation that distinguished the old band. It’s a little less flashy and virtuosic now, perhaps, although Mr Ponty brings something special to the sound. The overflowing audience on Monday loved it all.’
New York Times, 26/6/74

Jun 26 Coliseum, Cape Cod MA
King Crimson and Golden Earring also appear

Bill Bruford: ‘It was Michael on drums, and damn me, if he didn’t sound as good as Billy. Back to the woodshed.’


Jun 27 Saratoga Springs, Saratoga NY

Declan: ‘They were good, not bracing or electrifying. What I remember most was the sheer amount of contraband being consumed, the smoke wafting in waves over the crowd for several hours.’


Jun 28 Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada
Jun 29 Century Theater, Buffalo NY
Jun 30 Hamilton Place Theater, Ontario, Canada
Support by Bearfoot
Jul 2 Pine Knob Music Theater, Independence, MI

European Festivals Tour
Jul 7 Convention Center, Montreux, Switzerland

Chris Penycate: ‘I recorded them. Lots of string players with Barcus Berry Hot Dots, screechy and sharp, played far too loud for the room, and generally tried to make it as difficult as possible for people to enjoy what was excellent and unique music.’


Bob Knapp: ‘I went offstage kinda feeling like, ‘Man, that wasn’t the best I’ve ever heard’. But we tended to be hyper-critical of ourselves when we were doing those concerts.’


‘Despite the brilliant technical mastery of McLaughlin, much of the music ... was monotonous, with artificially engendered climaxes and with the familiar error of confusing volume with excitement.’
Billboard, 20/7/74

Jul 9 Kongresshalle, Frankfurt, Germany

Jul 12 Teatro Monumental, Madrid, Spain [2 shows]
Jul 13 Palacio Municipal De Deportes, Barcelona, Spain
‘There were moments during the long themes when the climax was absolute and insurmountable...each theme, after arriving to successive crescendos, was finished sweetly and with unique humility. Each end was structurally as subtle and sublime as the beginning, with the number dying delicately amidst the astonishment of a public who, at that moment, hardly had the time to react, transported by the energetic ecstasy ... Mahavishnu was energy, pure energy, ecstasy; gigantic, pure musical nectar.’
Disco Express, 24/8/74

Jul 15 Olympia Theatre, Paris, France
Jul 17 Forest National?, Brussels, Belgium

Jul 18 Summerconcert ’74, Sportpark, Hilversum, Holland Earth & Fire, Alquin, Doobie Brothers, Tim Buckley, Allman Brothers and others Arie: ‘Rarely seen such an explosive, dynamic and intense concert.’

‘Onstage you can almost touch the tranquillity. Sticks of incense burn from various microphone stands, its sickly sweet smell wafting across stage and into the audience
...There’s a certain measured calm about the players that seems to emanate from McLaughlin’s inner peace.’
Sounds, 7/74

Jul 20 Knebworth Festival, Knebworth, England
Allman Brothers, Doobie Brothers, Van Morrison, Alex Harvey Band, Tim Buckley

Adrian: ‘John was fabulous and clinical in his all-white, then Jean-Luc Ponty joined him and the combo of fire and ice was awesome.’


Nigel Barton: ‘The sound quality was just stupendous.’


Jul 22 Grona Lund, Stockholm, Sweden
‘Mahavishnu began in silence – first making us experience a sense of community. Then it started with a sound level that surpasses almost everything ... After beautiful tonal effects and solos in a furious tempo, the ceremony ended for Mahavishnu. But not for the audience who wanted an encore. But that did not happen. When did a mass have an encore? It ended as it began: in silence.’
Svenska Dagbladet, 7/74

Jul 23 Liseburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
‘There was something of wind and mighty clouds in the moods that were created...after listening for a while, you understand why he wants to place all forms of music side-by- side...Everyone looks like they are enjoying themselves...A beautiful and exciting concert.’ Gotesborgs Posten, 24/7/74

Jul 29 Juan-Les-Pins, Antibes, France
Jul 31 Kongresshaus, Zurich, Switzerland

Isolated U.S. Date
Aug 8 Cessna Stadium, Wichita KS
The Guess Who, Boz Scaggs and Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids also appear

Second U.S. Tour
Oct 2 Avery Fisher Hall, New York NY
‘The new Mahavishnu Orchestra had only been performing together live for six weeks when we saw them last. One excited horn player had recorded the audience applause during the show and called his girlfriend long-distance on a pay-phone to play her a cassette of this special ‘music’ to his ears.’
The Troy Record, 6/10/74

Oct 8 Constitution Hall, Washington DC
Oct 9 Mosque Theater, Richmond VA
Oct 10 Chrysler Hall, Norfolk VA
Oct 11 CW Post College, Greenvale NY
Oct 12 Scranton Uni, Scranton PA
Support by Janis Ian
Oct 13 Johns Hopkins Uni, Baltimore MD
Oct 15 Durham NC
Support by Janis Ian
Oct 18 Trenton State College, Trenton NJ
Oct 26 Syracuse Uni, Syracuse NY
Support by Janis Ian
Oct 27 Field House, Manchester NH
Support by Gary Burton

Oct 30 UCLA, San Fransisco CA
Nov 2 Winterland, San Fransisco CA
Electric Flag and Moby Grape also appear

Australasian tour
Nov 8 Concert Hall, Perth
Nov 10 Festival Hall, Melbourne
‘Combining with Jean-Luc Ponty, on electric and baritone violins, McLaughlin showed the speed and technique that prompted claims that he is one of the best and fastest guitarists. Ponty blended well with McLaughlin’s guitar. The two duetted with impeccable precision then drifted into individual breaks. With long and short solos, they showed the timing and rhythm that gave the music its strong base, and much of its power.’
Unknown newspaper, 1974

Nov 12 Hordern Pavillion, Sydney
Nov 14 Festival Hall, Melbourne
Nov 15 Thebarton Hall, Adelaide
Nov 17 Hordern Pavillion, Sydney
Nov 19 Festival Hall, Brisbane
‘The Mahavishnu Orchestra took a receptive audience on a musical excursion guided by the soaring electric violin of Jean-Luc Ponty, and the amazing speed and precision of John McLaughlin. Each attempted to out-do the other in technical brilliance, but they usually ended playing in perfect counter-point. Though hampered on occasion by a faltering acoustic balance, the Orchestra did not release the audience from its spell until it was all over.’ Unknown newspaper, 1974
Nov 21 Town Hall, Christchurch NZ

Kevin Clark: ‘The concert was something else! Most of the band were dressed in virginal white ... The music was absolutely mind-blowing – we were all just stunned. We flew back to Wellington around about midnight and everyone was absolutely quiet on the plane’


‘Nobody could fault the technical gymnastics of John Mc Laughlin and the Orchestra ... the result, as it was last night, is a dazzling demonstration of skills. The only doubt is if the music they play, almost totally without melody, and really just a peg for virtuoso playing, has a great deal beyond the surface. But the band believes in what it is doing, and what it does is done brilliantly.’

Phil Gifford, 1974


Nov 25 Town Hall, Auckland NZ
‘[McLaughlin’s] control of volume is very acute. He lifts the ‘piece’ ... to an ear-shattering pitch and drops it almost to a whisper, cueing every member of his band with a look, a turn of his head, a bar count of the band, and they return to the intricate timing... the performance was value for money beyond all expectations.’
New Zealand Listener, 1974

Scattered U.S. Dates
Nov 27 Sahara Hotel, Las Vegas NV
Richie Havens also appears

Phil Hirschi: ‘It was a big dinner-table event...cigarette girls going around with these frou- frou outfits.’


Steven Kindler: ‘Having John say, ‘Can you please share with us a moment of silence’ and, miraculously, have everyone quiet down... only to hear in the background the sound of thousands of slot machines clattering away!’


Jean-Luc Ponty: ‘I remember we played late...all the musicians working in these theatres came, all the jazz fans, players, came to see us.’


Late Nov? Granada Theater, Santa Barbara CA
Robbie Basho supports

Dec 2 Astrodome, Houston TX
Yes and Gryphon also appear

Kat: ‘‘Hymn To Him’ was the most beautiful piece, the violin and McLaughlin’s guitar playing, together then fragmenting into various themes and melodies.’



European Tour

1975

Jan 19 Fairfield Hall, Croydon, England

Russell Tubbs: ‘When the curtain opened, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was scared stiff. But we got through it and the band – as I remember it – sounded great.’


‘It was a remarkable journey upward; high, high into the most transcendental peaks of the human psyche...By the end of the concert, there was indeed a sense of oneness as we wandered out into the drizzling night air, and McLaughlin himself hovered round the edge of the stage to shake hands with the people who had shared with him this often-sought but all- too-seldom achieved communion.’
Melody Maker, 25/1/75

Jan 21 Guildhall, Portsmouth, England
Jan 22 Royal Albert Hall, London, England

Geraldine: ‘I saw [‘Lila’s Dance’] performed in London. I have never recovered. I do not want to.’


Jan 23 Odeon Theatre, Birmingham, England
Jan 24 Colston Hall, Bristol, England
Jan 25 Free Trade Hall, Manchester, England
Jan 26 Kelvin Hall, Glasgow, Scotland
Jan 28 Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland
Jan 29 City Hall, Newcastle, England

Jan 30 City Hall, Sheffield, England

Johnnie K.: ‘The music was very loud (for the time) and very complex – so much that my friend and I left early and went to the pub.’


Feb 2 Forest National, Brussels, Belgium
Feb 4 Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Holland
Feb 6 Falconer, Copenhagen, Denmark
Feb 7 Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden
‘Mahavishnu’s music is an entire world of fiery rock, lyrical pictures, slow serious sections and all our fears. It is invocation and positive attitude to life and death ... This is music to comfort the small, disappointed, unloved child deep within us...’
Svenska Dagbladet, 9/2/75

‘Mahavishnu Orchestra...took us on a trip beyond time and space, to the promised lands of electric sounds and giddying rhythms. Is it perhaps a higher power behind this Absolute Music? Two hours’ escape from the grey boredom of the city, and we saw the light.’
Dagens Nyheter, 2/75

Feb 9 Congresshalle, Hamburg, Germany
Feb 11 Palais De Beaulieu, Lausanne, Switzerland
Feb 12 Salle Pleyel, Paris, France
Feb 13 Paris, France
Feb 14 Salle Vallier, Marseille, France
Feb 15 Palacio Municipal De Deportes, Barcelona, Spain
Feb 17 Real Madrid, Madrid, Spain [2 shows]
Feb 20 Palasport, Turin, Italy
Feb 21 Palasport, Udine, Italy
Feb 22 Palasport, Milano, Italy [2 shows]
Feb 23 Teatro Genova, Genova, Italy [2 shows]
Feb 24 Palasport, Bologna, Italy
Feb 25 Palasport, Rome, Italy
Feb 26 Palasport, Naples, Italy
Feb 27 Thetro Petruzelli, Bari, Italy [2 shows] [The Italian dates may have been cancelled]

U.S. Tour
Apr 12 Penn State Uni, Pennsylvania PA
Apr 13 SUNY, Stony Brook NY
Apr 14 Allentown PA
Apr 17 University, Georgetown, Washington DC
Apr 18 Ritchie Coliseum, College Park MD

Virgil: ‘I left that concert thinking I had seen the best musicians in the world.’


Apr 19 State College, Millersville PA
Support by David Bromberg Big Band

Apr 20 Clark Uni, Worcester PA

Steven Kindler: ‘One of the tapes I made from the stage that was really good was at Worcester. I was proud of us. I made the mistake of playing it for Ralphe Armstrong, who said, “Kinlahs, lemme borrow that shit”. I never heard or saw that cassette again.’


Jeff Beck/Mahavishnu Orchestra U.S. tour
Apr 24 Century Theater, Buffalo NY

Dinky Dawson: ‘The first gig landed right in the groove for both bands...The strength of that debut continued during subsequent shows. The concert reviews were glowing and the musicians were having a fantastic time.’


Apr 25 Dome Center, Henrietta NY
Apr 26 Civic Center, Springfield MA
Apr 27 Capitol Theater, Passaic NJ
Apr 29 Hofstra Uni, Hempstead NY

Bakic: ‘My most vivid memory is of some Jeff Beck fans heckling John and the band as ‘Eternity’s Breath’ began, his completely disregarding them by turning and smiling at the band and then kicking them right in the teeth with the opening riff. Narada and the rest of the band followed suit.’


Apr 30 – May 1 Avery Fisher Hall, New York NY

Dick Wyzanski: ‘McLaughlin opened the first show and by the second song I found myself with a splitting headache from the 500mph high-on-the-neck guitar runs.’

Michael Walden: ‘When we did the [Beck/McLaughlin] thing at the end, John got so high on playing that he caught afire and got so out there that he never really came back. Jeff quietly walked off the stage.’


May 2 Spectrum, Philadelphia PA
May 3 Music Hall, Boston MA

JDM: ‘I was there tripping on LSD and it was mind-blowing.’

May 4 Conn Coliseum, New Haven CT
May 6 Stanley Theater, Pittsburgh PA
May 7 Music Hall, Cleveland OH
May 8 Aerie Crown Theater, Chicago IL

L.C.: ‘My Gawd... they were loud. The first 20 minutes, I thought my head was going to explode. It was just one huge wall of noise. About midway the sound man must have woken up or something because then it was listenable. I had ringing in my ears for a long time after.’


May 9 Masonic Temple, Detroit, MI
May 10 Auditorium Theater, Milwaukee WI

May 11 Ambassador Theater, St Louis MI
May 28 Exposition Hall, Civic Plaza, Phoenix AZ
May 29 Golden Hall, San Diego CA

Rick: ‘McLaughlin [says] ‘May we have a moment of silence’ or something to that effect and someone yells out “Rock ‘n’ roll!” I think they turned up the amps to 11. One of the loudest shows I remember being at. Michael Walden’s drumming was stunning.’


May 30 Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles CA

Will: ‘Jeff Beck had both bands come out and do three encores together.’


May 31 Winterland, San Fransisco CA [2 shows]
Jun 1 Civic Center, San Jose CA
Jun 3 Paramount Theater, Portland OR
Jun 4 Paramount Theater, Seattle WA

‘Who, indeed, was the wrong-headed entrepreneur who decided that Mahavishnu Orchestra and Jeff Beck would make a compatible concert bill? The coup certainly seemed tantalizing in the ads – two of the most celebrated guitar ‘legends’ in “the one concert this year not to be missed”. Sadly, the pre- packaged aggrandizing proved less than accurate, The basic split between the factions of fans was obvious, making for an uncomfortable atmosphere.’
San Diego Reader, 5/6/75

Jun 7 Ice Arena, Denver CO
Jun 8 UNM, Albuquerque NM
John’s Double Rainbow breaks irreparably

Stu Goldberg: ‘For some reason, John leaned his Rex Bogue double-neck straight up against the dressing-room counter, and of course, BOOM! It fell over and died.’


Steven Kindler: ‘The thing started sliding very slowly... it went down onto the counter and just bounced into the floor. I remember all of this inlay popping out and jumping around on

the cement floor. We looked at the destroyed guitar and were gasping. John looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.’

Jun 9 Civic Center, El Paso NM
Jun 11 Memorial Hall, Dallas TX
Jun 12 Municipal Hall, San Antonio TX
Jun 13 Music Hall, Oklahoma City OK

Phil Hirschi: ‘[John] introduces the band – ‘And here’s Phil Hirschi, and this is his home town!’ And then he pointed at me and let me play for, you know, 20 seconds!’


Jun 14 Assembly Center, Tulsa OK
Jun 15 Music Hall, Houston TX

Dinky Dawson: ‘John was very reserved, even when jamming with Jeff. Nothing was said, but it was inevitable that the electronic Mahavishnu Orchestra would be moving on.’


‘Star Truckin’ ’75’ European Tour
Aug 5 Falconer Theatre, Copenhagen, Denmark
Aug 7 Chateaux Neux, Oslo, Norway

Desdiova: ‘A friend and I snuck into the soundcheck. It took ages to set the drums (‘Single shots, Michael! Please!!’). Ralphe was cooler than cool, wearing his red jumpsuit and white shoes, even to soundcheck. I asked McL for some guitar tips and this is what I got: ‘Cut your long hair and pick up yoga’. 80% of the crowd were there to see Mahavishnu.’


Aug 9 Runsala Folk Park, Turku, Finland
Aug 11 Grona Lund, Stockholm, Sweden
‘Mahavishnu John McLaughlin is a brilliant guitarist, but I certainly don’t understand what he wants to achieve with his cascades of notes. His new group ... is purely a sound-workshop with improvisations and experiments. It is a sort of free-form music without beauty, groove or emotion.
Aftonbladet, 12/8/75

Aug 14 Groenoordhal, Leiden, Holland

Aug 15 Bilzen Jazz Festival, Bilzen, Belgium

Bert Lams: ‘The whole band was dressed in white. There was a lot of technical difficulties. Also there were a few drunken people yelling to the band. Mostly I remember John smiling through it all.’


Aug 16 Stadion Galende, Ludwigsburg, Germany
Aug 17 Theatre Antique, Orange, France
‘The assorted space-cadets could relax until the early hours to the gothic charms of Nico, the electronic loops of Tangerine Dream, or the mystical mastery of John McLaughlin. However,
the powers of the latter were in no way sufficient to stop the insidious rain disturbing the progress of Sunday – or rather Monday morning – nor the threat of electrocution to his Mahavishnu Orchestra.’
Resonance, 15/9/75

Aug 18 Plaza De Toros, Marbella, Spain

Andy Powell: ‘The backstage area was where they slaughtered the bulls.’


Geoffrey Richardson: ‘I remember ending up poolside with Mike Walden and we had a jam

– me, Mike Etheridge and [Narada]. Michael Walden looked like a god – and I was envious of his clothes.’

Aug 20 Malaga, Spain

Aug 24 Reading Festival, Reading, England
Hawkwind, Dr Feelgood, UFO, Kokomo, Supertramp, Judas Priest, Wishbone Ash, Caravan
& others

Michael Walden: ‘I couldn’t believe how huge it was.’


Winty: ‘Memories... Concorde flying overhead during an excellent set by the Mahavishnu Orchestra.’


Ian Ellis: ‘John didn’t look overly happy – at one point he physically threw his beautiful gold- encrusted Gibson across the stage. It made a dreadful clunking noise as it hit the floor once and bounced into the arms of his waiting roadie. They were refused an encore by the powers-that-be, even though the audience demanded one. Mr McLaughlin took it philosophically – he smiled at me once more as he turned and made his way down the ramp.’


Aug 27 Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland
Aug 29 Stadthalle?, Vienna, Austria
Aug 31 Deutschlandhalle, Berlin, Germany
Sep 2? Hanover, Germany?
Sep 5? Jaap Edenhaal, Amsterdam, Holland?

Scattered U.S. Dates
Oct ? Greenwich High School?, Greenwich CT
Support by the Brecker Brothers

Bryan Bell: ‘We put up the lights at the opening of the set and the band’s gear voltage dropped from 120 to 100. The Minimoogs went totally south.’


Oct ? Brandeis Uni, Waltham MA

Oct 10 Commack Arena, Long Island NY
Herbie Hancock & The Headhunters and Taj Mahal also appear

Oct 16 Meehan Auditorium, Providence RI

Oct 29 Palace Theater, Waterbury CT [2 shows]
Supporting Frank Zappa

Ralphe Armstrong: ‘I think I met Zappa on a show. And he was freaking out at how I played the bass.’


Nov 28 Masonic Temple Auditorium, Detroit MI
Support by Jan Hammer Group
Nov 29 Toledo Uni, Toledo OH
Support by Jan Hammer Group
The final concert by the greatest band that ever was