On This Day (December 13)…Tangerine Dreams at Reims

If you have a list of bands you would expect to have been officially excommunicated by the Catholic Church, Tangerine Dream probably doesn’t make it. Yet they did indeed have this happen to them as a result of a concert which happened on this day in 1974: their concert at Reims Cathedral.

There were probably more than 7,000 in the cathedral tonight of December 13, 1974.
Photo of the concert. Retrieved from here.

The Concert

This concert has become somewhat legendary in the Tangerine Dream fandom, both for its unique setting and as an example of how far they had come. Nico, formerly of the Velvet Underground, also performed, but not with the gentlemen of Tangerine Dream. Some sites claim as many as 7000 people were there, though others say there were about 5000. Either way, it was a logistical nightmare, as Reims Cathedral was not made to hold that many people.

Edgar Froese, Peter Baumann, and Christopher Franke. Retrieved from here.

As usual for Tangerine Dream’s concerts in those days, the entire set was improvised. This was not the issue that led to the ire of the Catholic Church, however. Apparently, that was due to the incredible mess left in the church after several thousand concertgoers were there without bathroom facilities readily available!

Tangerine Dream was banned from ever performing in a Catholic church again. However, the very next year, perhaps as a result of the overall positive reaction to the Reims concert (papacy notwithstanding), they were invited to perform in several English cathedrals, including the one at Coventry, during their UK tour the following fall.

The concert has been recorded. Originally included in the Tangerine Tree project as Volume 30, it has since been officially released as part of The Official Bootleg Series, Vol. 1. It can be found here. As a note, Tangerine Tree fan releases consisted of higher-quality bootlegs, speaking to the sound on this recording despite the apparent chaos of the night.

Bootleg cover. Retrieved from here.

The Venue

The Cathedral at Reims, the full name of which is the Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Reims, is by far the oldest building I have written on, far exceeding the previous title-holder, the Brighton Dome. Even among the great Gothic cathedrals, Reims is notable for its incredible stained glass.

Western Rose window at Reims. Retrieved from here.

It was built beginning in 1211, with construction work ongoing for eighty years. Completing decorations and such took even longer.

Reims in the present day. Retrieved from here.

This church was the site of many French coronations. It was later restored following serious shell damage in World War I. It is, as of 1991, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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