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The Nice - Keith Emerson And The Nice: Vivacitas CD (album) cover


The Nice


Symphonic Prog

3.49 | 16 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Who would have thought that The Nice would be playing together again in the 21st Century? Certainly not me, and although I came to The Nice through ELP, it was a band that I had been interested in for a long time. When I was given the opportunity of seeing them in concert I grabbed it with both hands and had a great time. This triple CD set is taken from the concert that was recorded in 2002 in Glasgow. The first CD is The Nice, with Dave Kilminster, and he certainly fits in well with the old blokes! Keith Emerson played the concert with his normal abandon, and I seem to remember that both Lee Jackson and Brian Davison played with huge grins on their faces.

The Nice were one of the most important bands in the progressive rock vanguard, bringing more than a hint of classical music into proceedings which gave rock an air of respectability, while at the same time managing to upset everyone by setting fire to a version of the Stars & Stripes during a performance of "America". No fire this time, but "America" (combined with "Rondo") is the opening number ? proving as if it were needed that they don't need vocals to make an impact. Of course there are 'proper' songs as well, and special mention should be made of "Cry Of Eugene" which all these years on is still a powerful song.

The second CD finds Keith alone, as he performs "A Blade Of Grass" and "A Cajun Alley" then a new line-up takes centre stage. Dave is back on guitar, but they are now joined by Pete Riley on drums and Phil Williams on bass. To cheers from the crowd, Keith announces that they are going to play "Tarkus", all 21 minutes of it! It has been adapted from the ELP version so that it is an instrumental, with Dave playing Greg's vocal lines on the guitar. To hear this was one of the highlights of the concert for me, and on CD it comes across with great power. A raucous "Hoe Down" (which Aaron Copland could never have conceived of) completes this section of the concert.

There is just time for the old boys to come back on and all six (yes, two drum kits) blast their way through "Fanfare". There is just enough time for "Honky Tonk Blues" and it is all over. Well, nearly. The third CD contains an interview with Keith, Brian and Lee talking about the glory days. One of the joys of this album is that it is possible to hear the bum notes, the fluffs, as this is a band on stage that are having a ball. There is no need to go back and adjust all the errors as that takes out the soul of the performance. If you had been there on that night this is what you would have heard, and what a fantastic time you would have had.

kev rowland | 4/5 |


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