Ticket Stub: Emerson, Lake & Palmer in Wheeling, November ’77
For those of you that read my Ticket Stub piece last week regarding Michael Bolton, I should tell you that good portions of that were nothing more than an April Fool’s joke. I think that there are definitely portions of those untruths that could happen. Specifically, I don’t think it’s too late for a meeting of the minds between Clapton and Bolton.
Consider this – Clapton and his thirtysomething wife are in bed at the end of the day, and perhaps she suggests that Clapton should do something with Bolton, tagging the suggestion with “I’ve always liked him.” The next thing you know, there’s an album in stores featuring Eric Clapton and Michael Bolton. Together.
Ponder that for a moment, and let’s move on….
Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
We’re so glad you could attend
Come inside! Come inside!
Last week, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake laid out the ultimate cruel April Fool’s joke for unsuspecting music fans in Ohio. The Cleveland suburb of Lakewood was ground zero for the launch date of a short unplugged tour featuring the pair, a series of dates leading up to an Emerson, Lake & Palmer reunion show in the UK later this year. For ELP fans, the gigs are a nice flashback to the beginnings for Emerson and Lake, who first met while playing shows together in 1969 – Emerson with The Nice, and Lake with King Crimson.
Unfortunately, the Lakewood show ended (it truly WAS an “unplugged” show) before it began – with some fans in their seats for close to 90 minutes waiting for the show to begin. More than 40 minutes after the scheduled start time, a representative from the venue came out to let fans know that the gig had been canceled. Emerson & Lake went on to pull the plug on the next two sold out shows in Pennsylvania and Connecticut with no explanation. ELP fans were pretty pissed off, especially since some had driven more than 200 miles for the launch date of the tour. (Please note however that prog fans also will get pretty po’d if you label Emerson and Lake as “assholes.”)
We all thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke that they were not coming out. Of course the British don’t have a sense of humor so we soon realized it was for real. What a waste of time.
Reportedly, the pair had been in Lakewood for a couple of days, rehearsing and bickering regarding the show. For those familiar with ELP, group infighting has been a big part of the history, something that comes naturally with all of the pomp and circumstance required to be prog rock royalty as ELP have been over the years. Palmer wasn’t around for this round due to his current commitments with Asia, and man, he pulled the lucky straw in missing this one. (Sing it with me now, “oooooh what a lucky maaan, he was.”) Emerson has recent history canceling gigs, having canceled a US and European tour with the Keith Emerson Band last year (and also a series of planned ELP dates) due to the “resulting nerve damage and dystonic factor” of “past right hand injuries.”
As you’ve probably guessed already, Emerson is the one to blame for the latest cancellations, and he explains his reasoning via a recently released statement. Here’s an excerpt:
The production we had hoped to put on was lacking in its musical and technical preparations. I was too distraught and embarrassed to come on stage to perform or even to announce the sudden cancellation myself, and to issue a statement immediately. What we were embarking upon was completely new ventures for both of us. I could not appear in front of an audience with high-expectations so unprepared. At that particular time, the quality of music I wished to present was more important to me than my reputation or financial gain. I now realize fully that the decision had a devastating effect on many including fans, my crew, staff, the promoters and the venues.
Fan reaction to the statement has been mixed (Greg Lake also released his own statement), and the tour finally began on Monday night. Rescheduled dates for OH, PA and CT are tentatively planned for May.
It’s a show “guaranteed to blow your head apart,” although the Works tour (similar to the current Emerson/Lake tour) had its own issues that threatened to cripple the trek. The tour initially began with a 65 piece orchestra and choir that were quickly jettisoned several weeks into the tour upon realization that it would be financially impossible to complete the tour with such a large entourage of performers. The tour had been playing to rave reviews, and even minus 65 members of their previous cast, it’s not hard to hear why the show went over so well. ELP were consummate live professionals, something that is prominently displayed for over two hours in this Wheeling performance.
Unfortunately, it was also close to the closing bell for Emerson, Lake & Palmer. After taking a three year break prior to Works to reinvent themselves musically, the group would find themselves swept to the side by current trends upon their return. The combined forces of groups like the Bee Gees, Styx and Clash proved to be too much for ELP, who managed to release one more album titled Love Beach (insert massive *cringe* here), to fulfill contractual obligations before officially calling it a day in 1979.
And wouldn’t you break up too, after seeing yourself on this album cover? Take a look at this, and you’ll understand why ELP really called it quits.
Ah, the ’70s…..weren’t they great? And damn, Carl Palmer is a bad ass drummer.
Listen to this show at Concert Vault by clicking here.