We are So Glad You Could Attend…
ELP habia hecho grandes álbumes hasta ese entonces, pero fue en vivo donde todo cobró vida. Hemos sido capaces de combinar el espectáculo más la maestría musical en un espectáculo masivo. El álbum triple en vivo es el documento de lo que estábamos haciendo en la gira en esos días “-. Keith Emerson.
“ELP estuvo siempre en busca de algo nuevo y diferente. Cualquier cosa que podríamos hacer en ese punto, sería sólo un pequeño cambio. No era ser “extremos” simplemente porque si. Siempre fue algo que sentimos para acompañar el efecto de la música. Todos los grandes escenarios que se hicieron eran realmente para acompañar la música. Ese fue el principio de lo que hicimos”. – Greg Lake.
“Para esa gira la batería estaba puesta en una tarima que giraba en dos direcciones. Eso lo había visto cuando tenía 13 años de edad. Había un baterista llamado Eric Delan. Era un baterista muy popular de big band swing y tendría un conjunto de tambores de rojo y plata metálicos sobre un elevador de tambores giratorio, vestido con una chaqueta de laminas doradas. Cuando tienes 13 años de edad te dejas influenciar por ese tipo de cosas”-. Carl Palmer.
From time-to-time, certain bands and artists arrive into eras of music and due to either musical virtuosity song writing ability or just a sheer desire for overt self expression, they find themselves at odds to conform or unable to be held by the limited boundaries set by those that went before. In seeking to throw off these restraints, they strive to lay down a brand new blueprint upon which to build their art and by so doing, hope to evolve and inspire an exciting new branch of popular culture. Emerson, Lake & Palmer are one such band that contained all these attributes and by transcending their elders and peers, became instrumental in laying an entire cornerstone to a form of music that still thrives to this day.
With the union of ex. The Nice pianist/keyboard player Keith Emerson, ex. King Crimson guitarist/bass player and vocalist Greg Lake and ex. Atomic Rooster and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown drummer/percussionist Cart Palmer, ELP all but discarded the popular and dominant musical forms of the day and in its place anted a brave new world of their own design, mixing neo-classical and symphonic rock fused together by sweeping aural constructs of equally sublime beauty and tenor.
Their desire for change didn’t just remain on a musical platform either, and in further seeking to break away from the norm, ELP drafted new and exciting ways to present their music to the public. By doing so, they changed the whole industry’s approach to onstage performance and presentation. Their personal vision was one that sought to introduce and utilise the mediums of art technology and other new emerging disciplines, such as special effects into their live performances and,. in so doing, completely devour the hearts and mind the their fans with a show that left the audience not only ecstatic but also astounded and bewildered in equal measure.
To this end, their second only performance at the Isle Of Wight Festival on Saturday 29th August 1970, showcased a 35 minute performance of Mussorgsky’s classical opus. ‘Pictures At An Exhibition’ with the piece brought to an explosive finale by the shock and awe of dual canon fire. Such was the force of the effect, a nearby photographer was blown back into the photo pit and with their composure barely regained, a stunned festival audience erupted Into wild, spontaneous applause. From that moment on. ELP quite literally. became a force to be reckoned with and by bringing together their exerting and exploratory new music in perfect harmony with these theatrical elements. ELP gave birth to the modem Rock concert. Over (he following few years and as many album releases, ELP’s popularity grew exponentially with sales providing enviable statistics as each one crashed into the upper echelons of both the U.K. and U.S. charts. In parallel, their live performances mutated and grew and only became challenged for attendance levels during that same period by the likes ol The Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin. By the release of their fourth studio album. Brain Salad Surgery in November 1973 which reached No.2 in the UK album charts, ELP were one of the biggest acts on the planet.
Time then to capture for all eternity the whole ELP live experience and to this end, it was decided that an indispensable live album release would be the document to harness this period in the band’s career. And with the forthcoming Brain Salad Surgery The World Tour about to embark and take 1973 into 1974. this would be the perfect backdrop and opportunity for such a venerable offering to their tans. This however, was to be no ordinary live album release as not even the capacity of the revered double gatefold album would be an ample enough carrier for what was planned. Nothing less than a triple vinyl gatefold would be suitable enough to contain what would soon be witnessed by millions of fans around the world.
For the Brain Salad Surgery concerts, ELP set the bench mark by which all subsequent rock shows would be judged. Up to this point, most bands would play live with little more than what was required in order to re-create the music on-stage, mainly due to the already high costs involved in taking both a band and its crew onto the road. ELP thought otherwise and thus became the first band to add ‘scenery’ and actually build and then re-build their stage show every night whilst on tour. Although this was considered by many to be an unnecessary extravagance, ELP were more concerned by what it meant to actually be an audience member at one of their concerts and how this would then be held in the minds of the fans long after they had left the venues and returned back to their homes and jobs.
“As we grew and progressed as a band, any stage production that we’d build to the live show was done in a sincere way.’ remarks Car) Palmer “It had something directly related to the making of that album, what you saw on stage related directly to the music. Hence, for “Brain Salad Surgery” we had a huge disc of the Giger image that we hung above the stage. The cover of the album could now be part of the live show.”
The now legendary Proscenium Arch was another feature that was first introduced on this tour. A 60ft metal framework, the first of its kind, was commissioned and later constructed by the crew night after night. When in place, it towered over the performers on stage and enabled the engineers to have total control over the various anomalies in lighting and acoustics that the band experienced in the different arenas and concert venues around the world.
In addition to how the concerts looked, other new and exciting technical features were also introduced on this tour, as Keith Emerson explains: ‘Thai was the beginning of us touring in quadraphonic [sound]. It was a split stereo feed and we had a joystick and we could whiz things around from speaker to speaker. To the fans, that was a big deal.”
As you might imagine, taking an ELP concert out into the world was a task of immense proportions which involved a multitude of technical requirements and man power. In total, a crew of twenty five were required to haul and construct the 35 tonnes of sound, staging and lighting equipment each night. This was in addition to Carl Palmers revolving stainless steel drum kit, Keith Emerson’s grand piano which each night would rise 30 feet in the air. Hipping over end-to-end, a special lighting system which was designed by both Greg Lake and Carl Palmer and even a Persian rug upon which Greg would stand and perform every night.
In fact, the presence of the Persian rug caused almost as much conversation amongst the fans and the press as did the actual performances themselves. Few realised however, the very practical and potentially life-saving advantages of this seemingly extravagant addition.
“Because I got so many electric shocks in the head!” recalls Greg. “240 volts right into the mouth off the microphone. I put a rubber mat down and then the rubber mat didn’t look very nice, so they got me a carpet and it was a Persian carpet”
With so many variables involved in an operation of this scale, risk to life and limb for ELP and their crew was never too far away, as Greg continues:
“In the beginning, it wasn’t as though you had a professional lighting company, or a professional staging company or a professional anything! The roadies built the procedium and the roadies put the lights on it No safety chains, no nothing! It was all ‘Do It Yourself on a very big scale. Stuff was falling down, I remember a light fell down and missed Carl by a foot It would have killed him II it hit him!”
For Emerson, Lake & Palmer along with their management company, these risks were a very necessary part of their modus operandi. In aiming for the seemingly impossible, whether it be musically, technologically or in business, the results when successful, were all the more satisfying.
So with the release of their second live album, ELP were secure enough to know that a triple vinyl release, although a risky proposition to the retail market (only a handful of other artists during this same period enjoyed success with a release of this format), was absolutely necessary in order (or them to capture a tans eye view of what it felt like to be present at an Emerson. Lake 8 Palmer concert. The release would also serve to simultaneously round-oil this specific era of the band’s career.
“The Welcome Back live album was kind of the end of an era for ELP,” states Carl Palmer. “It was the sum of what we had been doing since our beginning, and showed the progression in our music up to that point We were pushing the envelope and breaking barriers and I think that was apparent in our live show back then.”
Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends…Ladies And Gentlemen. Emerson Lake & Palmer, featured performances from multiple nights on the U.S. leg of the Brain Salad Surgery Someone Get Me A Ladder World Tour and were taken specifically from the recordings the band made at the Anaheim Convention Center nr. Los Angeles, California during February 1974.
Produced by Greg Lake, the release featured complete recordings ot songs and pieces from nearly all ol ELP’s previous studio albums. Amongst them was album opener ‘Hoedown’, all seven movements from ‘Tarkus’ and almost the entire Brain Salad Surgery album. Other pieces featured were solo performances from Keith Emerson which included his simultaneous playing of his grand piano whilst raised and twirled from end-to-end above the disbelieving crowd and Carl Palmer’s rhythmic presentation with added assault and battery to his almost 1 tonne stainless steel drum kit. Greg Lake’s solo set was also present where acoustic transpositions of ‘Lucky Man’, ‘From The Beginning’ and ‘Still You Turn Me On’ made for a soothing respite from the overt showmanship off both Emerson and Palmer.
This very same concert would also be witnessed by a further 250.000 enthusiast* US. rock fans attending the California Jam festival during the Spring of that year and headlined by ELP above performances by both Deep Purple and Black Sabbath- A further 70 millions ABC-TV viewers would also see the broadcast Finally. and following the tour’s massive success, ELP rounded-off their live activity by returning home and performing four nights at London’s then Empire Pool (now Wembley Arena).
Any initial fear by the band’s distributor, Atlantic Records was soon to prove unfounded as following Welcome Back’s… release in August of 74. the album strode confidently into the UK Top Ten Album Chart, reaching number five. Furthermore, it fared even better In the US by reaching number four and becoming ELP’s highest-ever chart release in North America. Once again the fans had silenced the band’s critics who were forever taking jabs at ELP’s seemingly overt display of extravagance tor extravagance’s sake. II only they had realised what they were witnessing both musically and theatrically would be a style and paradigm that would be replicated even to this day.
So, in this new millennium as we listen again to the album and look back down the musical time tunnel to that period now more than three decades ago, one is immediately transported to those heady, and in many ways, far more courageous days in music The was a time when ELP stood at the vanguard of a pioneering spirit within music and paved the way for marry others to follow.
Welcome back indeed!!!
For Pinball Productions
1. “Hoedown” Taken from Rodeo – 4:27
(Aaron Copland, arr. Keith Emerson, Greg Lake & Carl Palmer)
2. “Jerusalem” – 3:20
(Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, William Blake, arr. Emerson Lake & Palmer)
3. “Toccata” (Alberto Ginastera, arr. Emerson) – 7:21
An adaptation of Ginastera’s 1st piano Concerto, 4th movement
4. “Tarkus” – 27:24
-1. “Eruption” (Emerson)
-2. “Stones of Years” (Emerson, Lake)
-3. “Iconoclast” (Emerson)
-4. “Mass” (Emerson)
-5. “Manticore” (Emerson)
-6. “Battlefield” (Lake)
Including “Epitaph” (Robert Fripp, Ian McDonald, Lake, Michael Giles, Peter Sinfield)
-7. “Aquatarkus” (Emerson)
5. “Take a Pebble” (Lake) including “Still…You Turn Me On” (Lake) and “Lucky Man” (Lake) – 11:06
1. “Piano Improvisations” (Emerson) – 11:54
Including Friedrich Gulda’s “Fugue” and Joe Sullivan’s “Little Rock Getaway”
2. “Take a Pebble (Conclusion)” (Lake) – 3:14
3. “Jeremy Bender” / “The Sheriff” (Emerson, Lake) – 5:26
4. “Karn Evil 9 (Emerson, Lake, Sinfield) – 35:21
a. “Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression” (Emerson, Lake)
b. “Karn Evil 9: 2nd Impression” (Emerson)
c. “Karn Evil 9: 3rd Impression” (Emerson, Lake, Sinfield)