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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Works Orchestral Tour/Manticore Special CD (album) cover

WORKS ORCHESTRAL TOUR/MANTICORE SPECIAL

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.57 | 33 ratings

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Gerinski
Prog Reviewer
5 stars While this DVD can not compete with modern releases in terms of image and sound quality, and it's possibly not even the best ELP live performance ever captured in video, it's an historical document of such significance for the genre (and the concert is so great anyway) that I can't give it any less than 5 stars. This is a testament of where the big got biggest, where the ambition crossed the sustainable limits, the inflection point for one of the bands who had shaped the meaning of Progressive Rock, where they went bankrupt and from here they would never be the same again.

Keith Emerson had achieved his dream of recording a classical concerto in Works I, and his next dream was performing live with an orchestra. Not that he was or would be the only one, but while others (Purple, Wakeman) concentrated on one or a few shows, Emerson & Co attempted to do a full tour with a 65-piece orchestra conducted by Godfrey Salmon, all coupled with the excesses of stardom they had got used to until then. Everything big, bigger, biggest. Unfortunately this proved to be excessively ambitious and money ran out before they had done 10 gigs.

This video captured the concert at Montreal's Olympic Stadium on August 26, 1977 in front of 78,000 people, the biggest venue they played, and besides the financial issues the task of recording it in audio and video for posterity turned into a nightmare when a line in the recording unit went dead, which meant that a lot of material was messed up and for the audio LP 'In Concert' (released 1979) they had to combine with tracks from other concerts. Eventually the full audio concert would be recovered and released in 2013 with the name 'Live in Montreal 1977'.

At any rate, the song selection in the video is good enough, even if for my personal taste I would have preferred it slightly different. Although the tracklist mentions Abaddon's Bolero, we only hear some of it as background during the intro. For the rest it's in the line of what ELP were doing at the time, with several group pieces and some where each member could stand out. 'The Enemy God', 'Pictures at an Exhibition' and 'Pirates' are gorgeous with the orchestra, fantastic performances of great songs. 'Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Pt 2' is performed as a trio piece, always a great song. Lake uses his turn to perform C'Est La Vie which is great with Emerson playing the accordion and the orchestra adding some bits, and we get also the unavoidable Lucky Man.

Emerson's turn is, of course, his Piano Concerto, but sadly we only get the 3rd movement, yet it is outstanding. Palmer uses his to perform Tank with orchestra including his long drum solo, surely a landmark document in drumming history.

We have also the energetic NutRocker, and the concert closes with a long version of 'Fanfare For The Common Man' including 'Rondo' and Emerson's archetypal abusing of his Hammond L100.

Personally I would have preferred them to skip Lucky Man, NutRocker and to shorten a bit Fanfare or Tank in order to take advantage of having the orchestra and playing the Piano Concerto in it's entirety, that would have been awesome, but perhaps Lake and Palmer were not too keen on that.

The 2003 release includes the documentary 'The Manticore Special' of their 1973 tour which while not great is a nice add-on.

Gerinski | 5/5 |

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