Our reader Gary Dobinson has researched in the Australian National Library on and off for a couple of years, and he discovered some interesting press articles and some surprising and previously unknown facts. He summarized his findings in the following article.
In March 1975, Tangerine Dream undertook their first tour of a continent outside Europe, with nine concerts in Australia. This is probably surprising to many readers as only six of these gigs were widely known to have occured. The nine concerts played on the tour were [...] advertised fairly widely in the newspapers of the respective cities. Each venue had advertisements in the papers prior to the concert, and all concerts except the Sydney and Canberra ones (which were both on a Sunday) had advertisements in the papers on the day of the concert. The advertisements were all of a similar format. [...]
The list of concert dates for this tour is not exactly the same as the list that appeared in the Voices In The Dunes discography (page 374). The list in that book did not include the Melbourne concerts on 22 and 24 March and the Perth concert on 27 March. The list in that book is the same as the one shown on a photograph of a 1975 Australian tour poster/advertisement in the booklet accompanying the '70-'80 four-LP box set (page 8).
Incidentally, the list in Voices In The Dunes also includes a concert in Auckland, New Zealand, on 18 March. In a couple of Auckland papers for March 1975 there was no mention of a Tangerine Dream concert in Auckland. Given that the tour in March 1975 is always subsequently referred to (e.g. in the '70-'80 box set booklet and in other tour programmes) as a tour of Australia, with no mention of New Zealand, it is doubtful whether this concert took place.
The day before the first concert in Melbourne, Tangerine Dream received a gold album award for their first Australian released record, Phaedra. Prior to that they were reported to have spent four days driving about the state in hire cars.
13 March, Melbourne: Tangerine Dream's first concert in Australia was at the Dallas Brooks Hall in Melbourne on 13 March. The Dallas Brooks Hall has a capacity audience of 2,250 people. A tape exists of the two main sets of this concert, which has been circulating among collectors.
Six weeks prior to arriving in Australia Peter Baumann had left Tangerine Dream and had been replaced by Michael Hoenig. It was quite a surprise to the local promoters when Hoenig turned up in Baumann's place. This presumably explains why advertisements in the press clearly included a picture of Peter Baumann and not of Michael Hoenig on them and why some of the articles in the papers talked about Peter Baumann being in the band.
There were small articles with photographs about the band in three newspapers on the day of the Melbourne concert. These appeared in The Australian (which is an Australia-wide newspaper), the Melbourne Age and the Melbourne Sun. [...]
The emphasis on Tangerine Dream's equipment in the photographs in these articles is rather ironic given that the big Moog was damaged in transit to Australia and could not be used during the tour.
Chris Franke explained what happened in an article in Sound On Sound (December 1994): "All the modules had been built into one big case, to save time setting up on stage. The large case was shipped upside-down, and after 48 hours on the plane, the heavy transformers came loose and fell through the circuitry. When I first plugged it into the mains in Australia, I got a heavy electric shock. It wouldn't make any sound, and two days were spent repairing it and flying stuff in from Germany. That was a nightmare I nearly lost my life on that one." According to the article, this experience "...led Tangerine Dream to re-think their entire live transportation setup."
Edgar Froese explained his version of what happened to David James of the Brisbane radio station 4ZZZ in an interview in 1982: "The major instrument, a sequencer which was doing all the rhythm structures, broke down on the flight from Germany to Australia. They've put it upright down, so the power supply, the screws of the power supply, went off and no one did notice that. We plugged it in, on the first concert in Melbourne. After we plugged it in there was a typical sort of smell and crackling and the instrument was gone and there was nobody who could repair it. If the oscillators get suddenly a power of 220 volts instead of a count of one volt per octave, that's too much and the whole instrument was broken."
13 March, Melbourne: Despite the favourable reviews of the Melbourne concert -- the first from the Melbourne Sun of 14 March and the second from Farrago (University of Melbourne students magazine) of 4 April [...] Tangerine Dream themselves do not have fond memories of that Melbourne concert. Fifteen years later, in answer to the fan question "Was there a particular gig that Tangerine Dream felt really bad about, because it was somehow awkward, disastrous, violent or otherwise indescribable", (in the Tangible Dream newsletter, No. 7, 1/1990), part of the answer from Tangerine Dream was: "In 1975, Melbourne, Australia, the band just received their first gold record. Instead of performing a very professional concert with the big moog synthesizer, they had to walk on stage with three little organs and a mini moog because the big machine broke down during the long cargo flight from Frankfurt. No repair possible down under."
Edgar Froese commented to David James (of 4ZZZ radio) in 1982 that, after the breakdown of the big Moog: "We had to rent some Minimoogs and you know what it means, if we are trained to use all these machines and if you can't and if you have to start playing Minimoogs and organs, and so the music was shit to be honest."
In the Melbourne Sunday Press newspaper of 16 March there was a photograph of Edgar Froese modelling a T-shirt advertising the Melbourne radio station 3XY. [...]
16 March, Sydney: Three days after the Melbourne gig, TD's second Australian concert was at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, which has a capacity of between 1.000 to 7.000 people. In a small article in the "Pop People" section of The Sun of March, 13th, the author commented: "Tangerine Dream -- much to my surprise -- sold out one Melbourne concert in four days. For those who don't know, Tangerine Dream are a keyboard band with no rhythm section. Their music is ultra light and spacey, just the thing for insomniacs. They play the Hordern March 16." That concert was also not a success. [...]
20 March, Brisbane: Four days after the Sydney concert, Tangerine Dream played at the Mayne Hall at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, which has a capacity of 1,260 people. While reviewing Rubycon, Alpha Centauri and Aqua in Semper Floriat (the Queensland University Students Union magazine) in September 1975, the reviewer commented on their Brisbane concert in the following terms: "When Tangerine Dream came to Brisbane, the stage was darkened, few announcements were made, there was no encore and the three musicians sat with their backs to the audience seemingly ignoring us and each other. Yet the audience left totally and serenely elated. It was a concert indescribably mesmerising and beautiful."
22 March, Melbourne: Two days later, Tangerine Dream played their second Melbourne concert at the Dallas Brooks Hall. The advertisements in the papers stated that this was an "extra demand performance." This was the start of six concerts on consecutive days.
23 March, Canberra: The following day, Tangerine Dream played at the Lakeside International Hotel, where the Great Lakes Ballroom of the Hotel was set up theatre-style to accommodate 1,400 people. In a small article in the Canberra Advertiser of 12 March it was noted that the group would take 10 hours to set up for the concert and that "they produce true quadraphonic sound with special back-projection lighting effects." [...]
24 March, Melbourne: Tangerine Dream then returned to Melbourne for their third and final concert at the Dallas Brooks Hall. It was advertised in the papers as a "special student's night" and Tangerine Dream were supported by the Melbourne multi-instrumentalist Greg Snedden.
25 March, Adelaide: From midnight on 24 March domestic airline hostesses went on strike, resulting in the cancelling of many flights within Australia. However, Tangerine Dream managed to travel the 750 kms from Melbourne to Adelaide in time to play at the Festival Theatre (which has a capacity of 1,962 people). A tape exists of the two main sets of this concert, which has been circulating among collectors. There were a couple of small articles in the Adelaide newspapers prior to the concert at the Festival Theatre and they included the following interesting comments: "Their music -- if you can call it that -- is the sound of the future" (Sunday Mail of 23 March); and "Their concert at the Festival Theatre should be reminiscent of Focus who gave a concert last year at Centennial Hall" (Adelaide News of 6 March). [...]
26 and 27 March, Perth: For the 2,700 km trip to Perth TD managed to get a charter flight. However, it was not a straightforward flight. In response to the question "What is the strangest event experienced by Tangerine Dream while on tour?" in the Tangible Dream newsletter (No. 6, 3/1989), one of the answers was: "Crossing Australia in an 8-seater, 1 pilot prop plane. Right over the huge desert, the plane's radar system fell off. The pilot had to go up to an altitude of 6,000 meters -- too much for such a little plane; a last minute landing in Perth after 9 hours. Only the luggage suffered injuries." Despite this, they arrived in Perth in time to play two nights at the Winthrop Hall at the University of Western Australia. Prior to the Perth concerts there was a reference in the Perth Daily News of 22 March to their forthcoming concerts which described TD in the following terms: "English ultra modern electric rock band with three keyboard musicians." Interestingly enough, the American singer Pat Boone also had concerts scheduled in Adelaide on 25 March and in Perth on 26 March but he was forced to cancel them because he was stranded in Sydney due to the airline hostesses strike.
Less than a week after leaving Australia, Tangerine Dream played a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. That was the last gig for Michael Hoenig as a member of Tangerine Dream -- he left after that concert and Peter Baumann rejoined the band.
The next time Tangerine Dream toured Australia was in late February and early March 1982. During that tour Edgar Froese commented on a couple of occasions on the earlier tour of Australia. He told David James of 4ZZZ that the 1975 tour of Australia was "one of my strangest experiences in touring at all. Part of it was our fault, part of it wasn't." After commenting on the problems with the big Moog, the truck breakdown and the air hostesses strike, he continued: "If you've got three of these major things in a row, within two weeks time, what can you do? I mean you sit there and say 'OK, we apologise, we apologise, we apologise', but it makes no difference. I mean the people who have bought a ticket have a right to see the best thing the band could give and, well you know, and so we were very sorry about it. But anyway, it was the most disappointed tour the band ever did, in Australia."
And from an article in RAM, 5 March 1982 by Blake Murdoch: "We were so unlucky", says Froese. "We had to play in a way we normally never would. It was really bad. The worst tour I've ever done." Despite that experience Australia had a heavy impact on the group. "It influenced our music quite strongly for a year or two. I would've gone back to Australia straight after '75. Everything smells in a different way there, everything looks different, everything feels different. For a European, it's completely strange. I found it like being on another planet."
This tour turned out to be very difficult though and the reactions of the audiences were pretty mixed; there were airline strikes, which caused delays all the time and the band had to rent a private plane. At one point, the band had to cross Australia in a small eight-seat plane with some of their equipment. Chris' Moog was damaged during the transport. It was impossible to repair it, and a lot of other general problems with the equipment made the concerts a rather mixed experience -- both to the audience and to the band.
Seven concerts were nevertheless accomplished, but without Peter Baumann, who had dropped out of the band for a short while to do something completely different than making music. He was replaced by one of the old friends from Berlin, Michael Hoenig. This was not the last time Hoenig would appear as a guest musician or stand-in for Peter Baumann, but he never became a regular member even though his playing-style fitted perfectly into the Tangerine Dream concept. Michael Hoenig has later made a solo career in synthesizer music. He has made a lot of soundtracks and produced albums with various artists. It can also be mentioned that he was in on Phillip Glass' album, Koyaanisquatsi, which is the minimalistic soundtrack to the very beautiful movie by the same name.
About getting new members of the band, Edgar Froese has said that in this particular period it was a very complicated affair to get new people to join Tangerine Dream. The technology was still on a very low level, much of it were home-made and you had to have an enormous insight and overview in order to be able to follow the technical aspects and at the same time have some mental reserves to play improvised music -- with your soul! It might take years to get on the same level with new people, so the band were consciously determined to stick to the core members, i.e. Froese, Baumann and Franke. And this meant even if Peter Baumann had to do something else once in a while! To many people, this trio is the real Tangerine Dream crew, and it may hold true in the very sense Edgar Froese mentions above; as very few before or after them, these three people were able to create improvised music on a very high level and with an almost telepathic precision.
As an example of the significance of this trio is the book which come with the four-album box from Virgin, '70-'80, it contains almost only pictures of Froese, Franke and Baumann. These three gentlemen, however, only played together for about six years -- the period from 1971-1977 -- but those years were also the years when Tangerine Dream had the biggest impact as something new and innovative.