CLASSIC CONCERT: Emerson, Lake & Palmer @ Madison Square Garden / New York, NY / December 17, 1973

ELP - Ticket 12-17-73

I suspect that everyone my age may have had a progressive (“prog”) rock phase. The radio, New York City’s WNEW-FM in my case, had a big role in that. In the pre-punk and new wave days of the early 70s, DJs like Alison Steele, had no shame in playing the big prog-rockers of the day: Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis and of course, Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Known and loved by all of us as ELP, their sound was driven by the keyboard wizardry of Keith Emerson. Besides his foremost flair for electronics, he was also one of the first to cross-pollinate classical music into the rock mainstream. In fact, at the time of this 1974 New York show, two of ELP’s most popular radio cuts were Emerson’s arrangement of Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown” and a live recording of “Nut Rocker,” a 1960s Kim Fowley arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s “March of the Toy Solders” from The Nutcracker.

But there was also another wonderful side to ELP’s music: Greg Lake’s prowess as a singer-songwriter. Rock classics such as “Lucky Man” and “From the Beginning” added a refreshing change-of-pace to the band’s repertoire.

The ELP live show was one not short of theatrics. Emerson’s mastery of the keyboards was augmented with his now-legendary stabbing keys with daggers to hold notes and playing a high-wire elevated twirling piano. But the other two were also spotlighted in their own right. Drummer Carl Palmer played a ginormous kit complete with the requisite gongs and bassist-vocalist Greg Lake stood elegantly in the center of a large elaborate Persian rug.

ELP - MSG AdvertThis show was a part of the 1973-4 Someone Get Me a Ladder world tour that served as the basis for ELP’s next release: the live Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends, a three-LP set that remarkably made it to #4 on the Billboard charts.

Another thing music fans my age may have experienced was a time in their life when then turned their back on those prog rock days. It may have seemed hip during the punk and new wave days to shun these bands we once loved. But I suspect like me, most of us have come to appreciate the great music made by bands like ELP once again.

R.I.P. Keith Emerson

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7 comments

  1. Michael Rocker · · Reply

    It was the Brain Salad Surgery Tour. Nit the someone get me a ladder tour

    1. According to setlist.fm, this was the penultimate show on the ladder tour.

      1. Michael Rocker · ·

        I worked for the promoter Howard Stein who picked up the slack when Bill Graham of the Fillmore East left town.
        This tour was promoting the Brain Salad Surgery LP

      2. Michael Rocker · ·

        BTW I also worked for a man named Bob McCarthy. He owned the “Spinning Piano” It was once used on the Steve Allan TV show in the 60’s and also used by Earth Wind and Fire at the now demolished Cap Center in Maryland. Unfortunately it was destroyed by Bob’s son in 2008 and a drug rage. ELP was thinking about building a new one for the 40th Anniversary show at High Voltage. It never happened and that was also the last show they ever did together. There was talk about a US tour but things didn’t fall in to place.

  2. ELP 🙂 Grew up listening to Alison Steele, the nightbird, and she opened my ears to lots of new music.

    1. Michael Rocker · · Reply

      I was one of them. I was lucky enough to meet her a few times. She not only had a voice she also had a stunning body to match. May she RIP

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