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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Live At Montreux 1997 (DVD) CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer

Symphonic Prog

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erik neuteboom
4 stars Unfortunately I've never seen ELP 'live' so I have to ease this pain with live footage, for example this great registration from the famous Montreux Jazz Jamboree in '97. The vocals from Greg Lake sound a bit less warm and powerful but in general ELP is still very impressive on stage: solid bass play and fine acoustic guitar from Greg Lake, dynamic drums from Carl Palmer and Keith Emerson with his sensational 'stage antics' on his Hammond organ ("Rondo"), the use of the hugh Modular Moog synthesizer ("Tarkus/Pictures..") and the impressive piano solo on "Creole Dance". Fun and skills during the catchy song "Honky Tonk Train Blues" and a splendid final medley including "Fanfare For The Common Man", "Rondo", "Carmina Burana", Carl Palmer's Drum Solo" and "Toccaca In D Minor". This DVD shows a more enthusiastic sounding band than the '92 concert in The Royal Albert Hall. Another great ELP DVD release but I want more, like the full Pictures At An Exhibition Concert from the Japanese laser-disc concert!
Report this review (#33596)
Posted Friday, December 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was recorded 5 years after their comeback in 1992 and that is a good thing in my view.Whereas they sounded bit 'stiff' on their Black Moon comeback tour in 92,here they have regained a certain amount of fluidity and confidence in their performing and it shows through well.You can argue that this doesn't get anywhere near their 1973 heyday and I have to agree ,but it's still a great show.The ELP set list is very special and they do all the peices here justice.What you don't get are extended instrumntal improvs like in the classic years(excepting the encore track Fanfare..) BUT for some that could well be an advantage.The band are as tight as they can be with Lake and Palmers bass/drum offering particularly good support to Emerson who delights in showing his keyboard skills.Don't be put off..if you like ELP then you will enjoy this!
Report this review (#33597)
Posted Friday, December 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm a long-time EL&P fan and I was lucky enough to see them perform around the same time this show was captured. The song-selection is IMO very good. The band starts with "Karn Evil 9 - 1st imp." - they begin with the shortened "radio" version and it is apparent from the start that Lake's vocal range and strength is somewhat limited by this time. That said, he still does a very good job and plays bass and guitar very well as he always has.

Emerson is as always the primary showman of this group and one wonders how he knows which keyboard to play at any given moment when he must have about 50 separate ones on stage here! (Does he really need all of these given what technology was available by this time, or is it just for effect and/or nostalgia?) His playing is strong as usual, though I found his Hammond organ playing to be just a little bit sloppy at times - not quite as precise as we've come to expect from him. Overall, he performs very well and in fact, his solo grand piano playing on this show is as good or better than I've ever heard or seen from him.

Carl Palmer's sound and playing here show that his skills have evolved more than those of his longtime band-mates, and he shows amazing versatility going from the jazz-inspired playing he's been known for, to a driven, "heavy" sound as he easily emulates the late Cozy Powell's work with Emerson and Lake on "Touch and Go" from the mid-80's.

All-in-all, this is a very strong, vintage performance from EL&P and worth owning even for non-hard-core fans. Just another point about the keyboard technology available by this time - Emerson leaves little doubt that "techno - trance" music and "9-inch Nails" style, industrial music in general from the early 90's owes a debt to these electronic pioneers of prog excess. Rock-on EL&P!!

Report this review (#33598)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I just love ELP. It was KE that inspired me to play keyboards. I saw them in the early days and in the Black Moon tour and KE with the Nice in 2003. The man is a demon keyboard player but unlike the other reviewer I preferred the Albert Hall DVD. Keith's playing in this video is sloppy and sadly has remained that way. This has to be a direct result of the ulna surgery. Most of the time the second and third fingers on his right hand are clawed. Chords are played thumb, index and little finger. This is completely different to videoes I have seen prior to the operation. But man, he can still play!!


Report this review (#33599)
Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars As simplistic as I can put it:

- bad audio mix - not very good camera angles (sometimes late when a solo is going on) - not so fancy main menu - no special features

- not a lot of Moog which was disapointing because he'd go on it for like 5 seconds and he'd switch - no isolation camera angles + lots of good songs

Report this review (#39573)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars An awesome performance from ELP, even if cameras aren't there sometimes (they don't come to right moments like solos...). Greg Lake's getting old and his vocals seems just a bit off sometimes but he's doing a great job and his bass playing is awesome. Carl Palmer's drumming is subliminal. And of course, Emerson's still showing off which is awesome, not a lot of Moog , but oh well...
Report this review (#61973)
Posted Tuesday, December 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars Keith Emerson should be hanging his head in shame and doesnt even wince when he plays bad notes and slurs runs. Well it made me wince. I loved ELP have everything they made, but this video could curdle cream. What is wrong with Greg Lake? He may as well be in the studio on his own. At no point does he look at Emerson or seem to aknlowledge the other band members. The whole thing is badly played, Carl playing out of time and as mentioned, Keith making a real mess of the playing. I guess this was around the time of his arm problems. Advice to Greg, for gods sake look as if you are having fun, smile, maybe even try to enjoy it. The sad thing is that ELP went on to play for another 7 years after this dismal concert and get better, but this is such a low point. I always thought Emerson could do no wrong, well with this he came crashing to earth and along with changing states cd and off the shelf, destroyed his reputation for a long time. So,so, so, so sad...get me a ladder
Report this review (#187559)
Posted Saturday, November 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Of all the prog super groups and major title holders, ELP has always seemed to espouse a certain illness in me, never really knew why, having never seen them in concert. Until this DVD showed up in my collection. Yes, their first 5 albums are meritorious classics and have undoubtedly shaped the things to come but I always had the impression, perhaps erroneously, that the trio were surfing after BSS (as the Love Beach album would highlight) and living handsomely off their glorified reputations. Of course, Genesis, Yes and Tull were all guilty of the same lackadaisical affront to their fans and their second wave recordings are marginally interesting at best. So with almost 40 years of at times grudging respect, I have finally seen the light and can now properly vent my long dormant feelings. Emerson is a fantastic player that somehow eschews any kind of elegance and grace, a superb yet some how soulless technician. His "antic-waited" buffoonery is legendary and yet comes across as cold and humorless (he should have taken lessons from Ian Anderson, Fish or Peter Gabriel). These comments also revive my thoughts about Palmer, a fascinating drummer technically but missing a certain humanity, always having the impression that a drum clinic is taking place. As for Greg Lake, the man with the once gifted voice has constantly disappointed me in terms of his drafty solo work and his job-like lack of performance on this DVD is rather proof positive. Going through the motions with little regard for the audience or his band mates, nary a smile or warmth, rather surprising for such a powerhouse musician, he seems only to shine on tracks that are purely his ("From the Beginning" and "Take a Pebble" are very successful only because they are classic tracks). The opening track is a clear example of their duplicity (Welcome Back my Friends is a crass dynamo at best), a stiff entrance from the wooden Lake and Emerson noodling to no effect, Palmer at least keeps things vibrant. The dull and tired "Tiger in the Spotlight" is laughably lousy, while the pedant "Hoedown" was never more than slightly clever. Prog by numbers, exercise 14, with some lewd pyrotechnics to boot. Visually totally silly! Oddly, the Emerson, Lake and Powell track "Touch & Go" is where the situation improves, as if some hidden spark had emerged from the ether to warm the Swiss audience. The grandiose 'running with devil' theme is energetic (hmmmm!) and convincing, a true fanfare to the glories of synthesized orchestral rock music. While Lake looks unconvincing in his retirement Caribbean resort shirt , "From the Beginning" comes across live with the same genial magic that made it such a monument back in 1972 and hence a DVD highlight , the whistling synth solo still magnificent after all these years. "Knife's Edge" retains its original debut album eloquence, symphonically gloomy and lyrically austere as Emerson's hairy arms rummage through the black and white jungle as Palmer hacks away machete- like. "Bitches Crystal" is just so-so while "Dance Creole" and "Honky Tonk Train Blues" are more Professor Emerson solo spots , where he shows off (exact term, BTW) his considerable piano chops, leaving this uncanny impression of "Korn Evil" egotism. Ballroom to Saloon in a turn. Darn, are you ever fast, the Alvin Lee of Ivory. Wow! Really not my cup of tea and remindful of those clinics we talked about earlier. Allelujah! From now up to the end, we finally return to real music with the majestic "Take a Pebble", a classic prog epic which in many ways was closer to early King Crimson than anything remotely trio- esque. Moody piece with more evidence that Lake's voice has lost a lot of its knife edge, missing quite a few high notes throughout. Emerson's piano work is scintillating though, because he instills some heady jazzy fantasy that suits the arrangement perfectly, a definite voyage into the Pleasuredome! "Lucky Man" remains the Big Hit and a smirking Lake does not do it fully justice, too close to the studio version but I guess that's precisely what the people want. Could have used some more inspired Palmer work here IMHO. "Tarkus/Pictures At An Exhibition "reverts to what they do best, just pure no holds barred Hammond rampages, driving bass and pounding drums, ruined by a few more very wonky vocals to fret about . The final medley is the hallmark bright spot and redeeming finale to this uneven performance and hence somewhat unhinged review. In parts, this show is utterly brilliant, in others mundane and drab, musical masturbation at its finest. I am reminded of Robert Fripp's comment when asked what was the hardest note he ever played? He replied "silence" as an answer and admonition. Cheeky bastard! Three solo egos doing their solitary thing in 1997 Montreux , in a country renowned for its cheese and clockwork, how befitting! As our kenethlevine so correctly stated today, with his "too much cheese" volley, no one really wants to disparage such a stalwart icon but the dispassionate proof is visually apparent here, for all to see. Too many holes in this Gruyère for this fan! 3 Smokes on the Water
Report this review (#263714)
Posted Sunday, January 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars The Live In Montreux DVDs have always intrigued me, watching a band belt out all their classic songs to a captive audience captivated my interest. I have seen the Montreux DVDs Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Yes, Jethro Tull and now ELP. Usually each performance is very special captured with lingering camera shots, minimalist lighting, and showing the band working well together. The sound quality is adequate and the visual experience is good enough to replace not being lucky enough to be there. In the case of ELP is it not quite as good as the usual Montreux concerts.

This is a performance from 1997 and Lake is not looking as slim as he used to, and he could happily dispose of that Love Beach shirt, Palmer, in black, is focussed on his drums, and Emerson just cruises through every song, though he needs to either wear longer sleeves or get those gorilla arms waxed! They are still a cohesive unit and put a lot of effort into this but they are not as good as they used to be, comparing to the dynamic energy of Isle of Wight 1970 and the exuberance of California Jam 1974. The stage is quite bare, there are no cannons of course, and they are dressed rather conservatively. Their expressions range from serious to semi serious to the 'someone spat in my socks' look. They look like they have emerged from a backstage fight, rarely interacting with each other, 3 solo artists clinically going through the motions. Lake does address the audience and occasionally Palmer raises a hand to them, urges them to clap, or Emerson looks up and acknowledges they exist with some banter, but overall there is little audience interaction. The supergroup loosen up a bit midway through the concert, perhaps that is the effect of Knife Edge, such a great song. Take A Pebble is the definitive highlight for me, an incredible song the band seem to enjoy, and a song that drew me to this band in the first place.

The Montreux concert showcases the best ELP tracks such as Karn Evil 9, Hoedown, where Emerson gets to use his cool mini keyboard, Knife Edge, Tarkus and Pictures medley, and the finale medley consisting of Fanfare for the Common Man, Rondo, and other pieces. The tracks are all played competently but some of the magic is lost in these performances. Emerson dazzles on the blindingly fast solo renditions but it is piano wankery at its highest order. I was waiting for him to stab his keyboards and pull the thing on top of him for old time's sake. He does drag out a keyboard and makes a hell of a racket at the end of the concert after a rather exciting drum solo from Palmer. Admittedly it is fun to watch Emerson straddle his keys and play back to front and upside down at the end and Palmer has fun with his crowd for the most part during the solo. So some of the old tricks are there, even the old knife in the Hammond trick and playing with the keys on top of Emerson, but it is as if ELP are trying to recapture the old 70s magic by copying their former selves, but they just cannot.

Which brings me to the big problem of the concert. The band are not as precise or tight as usual. Emerson is a Tiger in the spotlight but he muddles up some of his triggerfingers solos, Lake could do with some Brain Surgery as he misses cues and struggles with the vocals at times, and Palmer looks a bit detached, lost in his own private Tarkus tank. They even play an Emerson Lake and Powell number in Touch and Go. So it is a bit confused and lacking in quality in places. However with all its flaws, and all cynicism aside, as a visual record of the concert, it is certainly great to experience this performance, and the band are not performing often these days. So ultimately here is one of the last big concerts from the legends of Symphonic Prog.

Report this review (#399590)
Posted Sunday, February 13, 2011 | Review Permalink

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