40th Anniversary Reunion Concert

[MVD Entertainment Group]

The members of progressive-rock supergroup Emerson, Lake & Palmer have never quite been able to keep away from one another, despite a constantly shifting series of internecine squabbles. The band broke up through the ’80s, but a steady stream of projects united at least two of the three; a ’90s reunion fell to pieces after a few years, but just last year singer and bass player Greg Lake joined with keyboardist Keith Emerson to tour as an acoustic duo. Still, the full trio hadn’t taken the stage for a dozen years when Lake, Emerson and drummer Carl Palmer assembled for this one-off anniversary gig at London’s High Voltage Festival in July 2010.

There is some rust evident here—Lake noticeably battles feedback problems, and Emerson continues to cope with nerve damage in his right hand (mind you, he can still play rings around most keyboardists). Yet this performance demonstrates just why these three guys can’t quit one another. This particular oddball fusion of classical pomp and hard-charging rock just isn’t available anywhere else, a fact the trio’s many detractors surely savor. But with four decades behind them, what once sounded stiff and mannered now seems warmer, with a surer sense of fun. Concert shtick that seemed tired in the ’90s—Emerson wrestling his keyboard to the floor, Palmer removing his shirt mid-solo—now is much easier to forgive. After all, with no current plans in the offing, this show might be the last stand of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. At least, until next time. –Chris Neal

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