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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Live at High Voltage 2010 CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars Emerson, Lake and Palmer performed at High Voltage 2010, 25 July in Victoria Park London. It was mostly sunny and mostly warm, there was no rain. There were tens of thousands of classic and prog rock fans, in a field.

So, anyone here heard of Emerson (Keith), Lake (Greg) and Palmer (Carl)? They were quite well known and popular during the 70s.They made one or two popular albums documented ably at ProgArchives. Having not played all together for a few years, they turned up for a 40th anniversary concert. Having promised, in the press, to play a spectacular selection of crowd pleasing favourites, hopes were raised. Well, let's see, we'd need Karn Evil 9, Tarkus and Pictures - maybe Lucky Man and Farewell to Arms, perhaps a Fanfare, rotating drum kits and cannons, destruction of venerable keyboard instruments - and a carpet. They have a hell of a back catalogue of pleasing crowds, so a long list and a tall order.

This is the live CD from ConcertLive, purchased on the day.

Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2: Welcome back my friends -.What can I say? You've gotta see this show? We'll forgive the guys a few timing issues early on, they soon hit their stride.

The Barbarian: Pompous organ workout. Lovely

Bitches Crystal: (once someone put the cable back in) was splendid. Greg's still got a fine voice and his bass playing ain't bad either.

Knife Edge: was suitably grand, stately and threatening. Good "waterfall" organ. Nice surprising reprise intro at 4:24

From The Beginning: Nice job Greg, even if Keith got a big cheer just for turning to the modular synth.

Touch and Go: Nice remake. Fabulous bass synth work. Even if the synth-brass is authentically ELP- ishly dodgy, we love it.

Just Take Pebble: Almost exactly as I always remember it. Nice work Keith, that synth piano has some good bass realism to it. It was a live gig with festival tech folks that they didn't particularly know, so we'll forgive a few feedback squeals and the odd foldback level issue. But Greg fought through the stage monitor issues and came out triumphant.

Tarkus Medley: Just a snippet but a good snippet. Fabulous buzzy synth tone in the march, sounds like some sort of armadillo-tank chimera might sound - Carl gets a big cheer for the gong/cymbal.

Farewell To Arms: Close your eyes, sway, and agree with the sentiment.

Lucky Man: Greg's tour de force.

Pictures: An abridged 16 minute short tour played with some abandon. An impressionist work featuring an epic siren, a positively 1812-ian Great Gate of Kiev - and cannons,

Fanfare For The Common Man: Majestic, expanded 12 minute version with the obligatory drum solo.

Visuals (not included on the CD) included Carl's rotating plinth. and Keith stabbing his organ (eyes water) for that ultimate sustain, swinging the cabinet for a slow vibrato effect, then chucking it onto its side.

"Clear the battlefield and let me see all the profit from our victory." Describes the queue for the live CD afterwards - well worth missing the last train home.

So how much of the list did we get? I make it 10 out of 10. Not bad lads. Don't stay away so long, this gig could be the beginning of a fine career.

5 stars if you were there. 4 stars for posterity

Report this review (#292732)
Posted Friday, July 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars 9 months since the gig and I am one of the very few submitting a review for this album. An album both sold on the festival (huge ques was reported) and in the shops some days later. An excellent idea, btw.

The problem with this album is called Welcome To The Show. That is; the live album which is the ultimate live album by ELP and by whom everything ELP has done live is judged against. Which is impossible, but not unfair. I would also add Live at Isle Of Wight as an album every other ELP will be judged against too.

Live at High Voltage 2010 is perhaps the final gig ELP has ever done and the final farewell to this band. Yes, there will be tonnes of new compilations and some live albums too from the 1970s. But Live at High Voltage 2010 is the last tones from this band. I would say, let it go. Retire with grace. We already have tonnes of excellent stuff from ELP (and The Nice, btw) to warm our hearts with.

I was not at the High Voltage festival so I have no emotional attachments to this gig and to the farewell of ELP whatsoever. I judge this album on what comes out of the speakers. I am not that impressed. The band sounds aged and that goes for in particular for Greg Lake. This live album does not have the same gutso as their live albums from the 1970s and that's a big problem when it comes to ELP. Gutso is what they relies on, to a large extent. But the songs are by default great songs.

In short; the songs are great, but the delivery of the songs sounds tired and not particular inspired. Hence my score.

3 stars

Report this review (#443218)
Posted Thursday, May 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars High Voltage Festival, Low Voltage Performance

Full Disclosure :

ELP have always been at the top of my all time favourite band list. I have seen them live at least 6 times beginning with the Works Tour featuring the full orchestra. I have personally met and talked with Carl Palmer twice, once during the original tour of ASIA and a few years later at a drum clinic in Toronto. I consider myself somewhat of an ELP complete'ist in that I try and get my hands on everything they have released as a band or as solo artists.

Production :

As a live ELP album this one falls somewhere in the middle. It's not nearly as well produced as WBMF but far superior in production to In Concert. The sound quality has the full range of frequencies that In Concert lacked but is missing the true richness of WBMF. The mix is strong and balanced, unfortunately that works against this recording in that it exposes many of the shortcomings ELP faced on this concert. The keyboard sounds are thin and more in line with what was happening in the 80's and for any Emerson fan it's a kick in the gut. There's just enough audience noise in the mix to remind you that this is a concert but anytime I hear feedback like that in Take a Pebble I cringe.


Song Writing :

Since this is essentially a 'best of / reunion' type of thing the song writing itself isn't terribly relevant to this recording, but where it falls apart is in the arrangements. It's clear that Emerson is far from being on his game at this point of his live playing and there are way too many compromises for my liking. I have always viewed ELP's live stuff as a chance to hear unique interpretations of their own songs. With this show they are but faded shadows of their former selves with nothing unique at all.


Originality :

ELP have always been an original band to my ears so to judge them on this I can only judge them against previous live efforts. Unfortunately there is nothing outstanding in this recording that has caused me to get excited about what I'm hearing. It sounds more like a struggling tribute band who can't quite get all the parts that the original musicians could.


Performance :

First, let me grab a tissue and wipe the tears from my eyes. My hero has so far to fall and he has fallen all the way. My anticipation of hearing this concert was crushed with almost every bar of performance from the beginning. While Greg and Carl seem to be holding up their end, given their ages and the complexity of the music they present, Keith just seems to be barely getting by. His playing is sloppy and uninspired. Greg's voice is better than some performances in the past (allowing for his limited range these days) but when he seems to forget the lyrics to Tarkus and calls to the sound man "feedback, feedback, feedback" my heart just sank. Carl's drumming sounds strong and he seems to have recovered from his philosophy of keeping it simple (a la ASIA) and provides some of the little spice there is to be found here. As a band they have lost the tightness and precision of their past and for anyone with a real ear for music you may find listening to this concert a bit painful as they struggle to hit the mark.


General Impressions :

This concert mostly likely should never have been committed to disc. It would have been far better for the band to do the one off concert and have the audience rely on their herb infused memory to recall the apparent glory rather than have something tangible that can be replayed to prove the point that as a band they are way past their prime. I find it difficult to even put the second disc in the player. I may revisit it some other time just say I've heard the whole thing but there is little that it can do to boost the impression that's been left after hearing the first part of this recording. All I have left to say to my heroes is rest in peace dear friends it was good while it lasted and I'll miss you dearly.


Total = 37/100 (37% of 5 stars)


Report this review (#447512)
Posted Friday, May 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
1 stars I was not at this concert and looking at the extracts on You Tube ( of which there were many), I am glad that I wasn't. Oh guys, how can you let yourselves go so badly? :>(

The arrangements have become simpler since Keith no longer can pull the old chops out at the speed he used to. Much of the delight of ELP was to see how fast and accurately they could reproduce their music. Sadly since the operation Keith had on his arm, his playing has suffered mightily. He has simplified chords to 2 finger jabs and fluffs runs he used to do..... in his sleep, under the organ, facing the other way.

The excerpts on You Tube give you a clinical, no soft focus view of the concert. All three were a sad shadow of their former selves. This concert made me really sad, I could no longer excuse the performances with nostalgia. The playing was sub par, the guys themselves.....well no comment on that, we all get old etc. Borrowing a cut down hammond from a tribute band to kick around was uneccessary and stupid, worse almost ( almost) than appearing with Spinal Tap. As the other reviewer said, it is time to put ELP back in the cupboard for a few years and try to remember them at their height. This really is not the way to remember them. There are many much better live cds out there such as the recent 70s live concert release. I suppose they wanted to get all their "hits" into the final concert, but why let a cd of this low standard ever get to the streets? I guess the emotion of old fans put a bit of a blinker on their critical facilities. Maybe they wanted a audio memento of the night, but maybe listening again without the occasion will clear the mists and let the music fall on its own. I showed the section of Fanfare to the Common Man to some friends and for once had to laugh with them, I never thought I would ever, ever do that.

Report this review (#516116)
Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Varicose Vein Salad Surgical Stockings

We rehearsed for five weeks, which I could never understand why we needed to rehearse that long, Upon hearing the recordings, maybe five weeks was not long enough. It wasn't to the standard that I liked and I didn't think it sounded that good (Carl Palmer)

They sound like a hungover pub band bluffing it under the delusion that only friends and family are in attendance. On the evidence of this superannuated bumper pay day that the trio repaid with their greatest hits karaoke, it saddens me to report that ELP are no longer even the best ELP tribute band around. Many of their missed entries and cues conspire to sound rushed and tardy, too early and too late which makes for a very nervy listening experience for this self-confessed ELP fanboy. Bum notes proliferate throughout making parts of Take a Pebble and Fanfare for the Common Man stray perilously close to self-parody. (I could swear Emerson is wearing mittens during Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2) Musicians of this calibre however, cannot be uniformly abject for 90 minutes (which is exactly how long a soccer match lasts but it probably feels longer seeing as how we're watching Chelsea's wheezing pensioners, one of whom is certainly worthy of a red card or failing that, a red face Greg...) The FOH mixing boffins were clearly unable to tame the sonic gremlins that spoil much of this performance: the drums at the outset sound alternately like Tupperware surdos or timpanic watering cans. The Barbarian they portray here would probably break into your apartment, dust the place, tidy up and leave behind some baked fruit scones. Similarly, the extant Tarkus critter has been lobotomised into some sort of de-fanged proggie moggie who would fail to even put the 'cat' amongst catatonic pigeons. Lake's bass on Knife Edge approaches 'twangy brittle' rather than the required 'guttural brooding' although in mitigation, the aforementioned 'pot diallers' have managed to perform some much needed running repairs to the appalling sound quality in the interim. On the up side, there appears a genuinely innovative moment re the unconventional piano intro to Lake's habitually guitar led From the Beginning which explores the implied jazz flavour of his 9th chord vamp quite beautifully. The synth patch used on Keith's outro solo alas, is a disaster, coming across like a Rolf Harris in the role of Pied Piper using Casio's flagship stylophone. Touch and Go lives up to it's associations with a completely fumbled/dropped ball intro from Keith that seems plain vanilla senile (How does this one go again lads? high dotage/dosage?) but settles down thereafter into a reasonably robust reading of what is probably the only classic post 80's ELP number by any permutation of those initials. I'm trying hard to accentuate what few positives there are but why is everything on here just so damn half-baked, wimpy and soulless?

For me, it's just a pride thing Unless it's as good as what it can be, then I can't do it. I would have carried on if it had been as good as it was. I don't believe it was and I don't believe it would have ever gotten back to that standard. (Carl Palmer)

The piano improvisation through which Emerson negotiates from Take a Pebble to the Tarkus medley is brilliantly realised and the resultant Stones of Years is spared the indignity of degenerating into any anticipated 'Gallstones of Tears'. Things have perked up considerably hereabouts and Keith's organ solo is a veritable highlight of the set. Rather bizarrely, Greg deems it prudent to attenuate the feedback present on this number by erm, shouting 'feedback x 3' into the microphone as if this will somehow make it less noticeable? Worse than that, the now spherical blimp has the chutzpah to regale us with Mass without a trace of knowing irony. Although it's hardly a stand-out in their songbook, it's refreshing to hear a live version of Farewell to Arms from the criminally neglected Black Moon album. This has a quiet and understated dignity about it that survives Lake's habitually treacly 'spoken tag-line' bathos and the odd lapse into poorly digested Elgar betrayed by the arrangement. The grazing anti-warhorse that is Lucky Man benefits from a slyly ingenious piano intro which seems rather wasted on what has always been for me, a very insubstantial ballad. What weight it might possess is further undermined by it's author forgetting the lyrics to the first verse. Keith's gritty and ballsy organ certainly beefs things up considerably but once again, this is a brownie with delusions of being a three tiered wedding cake. To be fair to Prog's favourite law firm, (Emerson, Lake & Palmer est 1970 prop G. Lake esq) they offer a very spirited and in places, moving retread of Pictures at an Exhibition which follows the latter day truncated versions as contained on the likes of the Return of the Manticore. Here the band at least exemplify the hard won lesson that despite the stubborn excesses of their Prog lineage, 'less' is finally acknowledged as begetting a more satisfying and economic 'more'.

Much of the raggedness and inaccuracies that crept into Emerson's playing circa the early 90's were diagnosed as a trapped nerve condition that eventually required corrective surgery. Although the operation was considered a complete success it did have a debilitating effect on Keith's pianistic abilities thereafter. He had to pare down and relax his playing style somewhat compared to the shredding pyrotechnics of his 'gun-slinger' years. However, based on the evidence of the subsequent Keith Emerson Band studio album and Live in Moscow recordings with Marc Bonilla, his playing is unfailingly top notch on both so I'm at a loss as to why there are so many clinkers on High Voltage It turns out that he was likely originally misdiagnosed as the condition he was suffering from has now been confirmed as focal dystonia a.k.a the musician's 'cramp' or golfer's 'yips'.

By this point ELP didn't even have either 'Ham or Cheese' to offer their famished but faithful fan-base but we can at the very least finally answer that nagging question first posed in 1971: Are You Ready Eddy to pull those faders down? Yep, and turn out the lights when you leave the building thanks, this show ended 30 years ago.

Report this review (#1258045)
Posted Sunday, August 24, 2014 | Review Permalink
2 stars Only recently did I started to look for live footage of ELP and happened to watch a performance of Pictures at an Exhibition so superb and majestic it left me wanting for more.

So the next thing I found was this "farewell" concert. I had my doubts since I have read so many unfavorable reviews for the last three ELP albums that I suspected this would not be even a shadow of ELP's former glory. Still I decided to give it a shot. The result?

I was totally saddened of learning that the final performance of the late Emerson and Lake in their once glorious band was a failure. Of course, you can blame old age and infirmities for a lot of flops, but, hey! Where was these guys dignity?

Emerson looks like he can't hit two notes without making a mistake, Lake looks like he simply forgot how to play a stringed instrument (not to mention his awful presence on stage... and who told him to put his guitar aside on The Sage? The guy looks ridiculous!), and Palmer... Well he seems to be the only one actually trying to play nice while having fun at it.

The whole performance goes off-beat and off-key so many times it feels like the guys hadn't rehearsed a single note in 30 years. Some bands have atrociously rehashed, rerecorded and overdubbed whole tracks before releasing live material, and I find that to be disrespectful to fans and costumers, but in this case I would have preferred that to witnessing the final act of a decadent artistic life of a band I like so much.

Although the setlist was passable why include an ELPowell track when they had plenty of acceptable ELP material? That is beyond my understanding

Sadly I cannot concede more than two stars for this

Report this review (#1940738)
Posted Friday, June 22, 2018 | Review Permalink

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