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Music DVD Review: Emerson, Lake & Palmer – 40th Anniversary Reunion Concert

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Welcome back my friends to the show that (almost)) never ends.

Keith Emerson (The Nice), Greg Lake (King Crimson), and Carl Palmer (Atomic Rooster) formed Emerson, Lake & Palmer during 1970. They quickly became known for their bombastic, creative, pretentious, and complex brand of progressive “classical rock.” Love them or hate them, they rose to superstar status during the 1970s, selling over 40 million albums.

The trio broke up during 1978 and reunited several times, but had not played together for over 10 years when they took the stage on July 25, 2010 at the High Voltage Festival in London in celebration of their 40th anniversary. A double CD of the concert was released last year and now it comes to DVD.  The 40th Anniversary Reunion Concert presents the 90 minute performance plus a close to 30-minute documentary, which includes interviews with the three band members.

The sound and picture quality are fine as they should be with a modern recording. The camera work is outstanding, as it catches the three band members both individually and collectively from many angles, which enhances the concert experience for the viewer.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer are really trying here. Keith Emerson may have lost a little dexterity but more than makes up for it in showmanship. ELP’s music has always relied on the complexity of the keyboards, and he still manages to present their music well. Greg Lake has had a great weight gain, but he still sounds good and his bass undergirds their sound.  Carl Palmer is still Carl Palmer, one of the better drummers of his generation. In a keyboard, bass, and drum band, he is required to not only provide the flare but also to fill in the gaps, and he continues to do so effortlessly.

The music is what can be considered typical for an ELP concert. The main focus is upon their self-titled debut album and Tarkus, but there are a few other gems as well. The shortness of their performance, 90 minutes, takes a little away from their creativity as in their heyday, when they would extend songs out past the 20 or 30 minute mark. Some of the bands that preceded them ran over their time, so ELP’s proposed encore of “Pirates” was scuttled, and that is a song I would have liked to have seen and heard.

“Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression – Part 2,” “The Barbarian,” and “Bitches Crystal” get the concert off to a rousing start and create an atmosphere for what is to follow.  “Take A Pebble/Piano Solo/Tarkus” transports everyone back to the 1970s. The final three songs, “Lucky Man,” “Pictures At An Exhibition,” and the dramatic “Fanfare For The Common Man/Drum Solo/Rondo” end the concert and leave you wanting more.

Whether they will reunite, perform, or record together again is not known at this time. What we have at present is the 2010 Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and that will have to do. If you are a fan of the band or have an interest in exploring one of the more eclectic yet popular bands of the 1970s, then this DVD is highly recommended.

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