Knife Edge (Heart Breakers HB-804-1/2)
Westbury Music Fair, Westbury, NY – September 14th, 1997
Disc 1 (52:04): Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression), Hoedown, Tiger In The Spotlight, Touch And Go, From The Beginning, Knife Edge, Bitch Crystal, Prelude And Fugue, Honky Tonk Train Blues, Take A Pebble
Disc 2 (54:03): Lucky Man, Tarkus, Fanfare For The Common Man /Rondo
Emerson Lake And Palmer’s last bout of touring in 1997 saw them play many venues in the north east including shows at the Beacon Theater in New York, Philadelphia and Wallingford, Connecticut. It was an unabashed nostalgia fest. Nothing from their latest two studio efforts Black Moon and In The Hot Seat were included. With a few exceptions, the setlist is drawn from their seventies peak.
Knife Edge documents the September 14th show at the Westbury Music Fair in Nassau County on Long Island. Heart Breakers utilize a very good to excellent audience recording. There is a slight distance from the stage with accompanying echo, but the people around the recorder are more respectful than not. It is a great sounding tape from this part of their reunion tour.
At the beginning an mc is heard introducing the band before they start off with “Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression Part 2),” the most logical set starter for the opening line “welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends…” It is followed by “Hoedown,” their more popular set opener.
After “Tiger In The Spotlight” they play “Touch And Go,” perhaps he most recognizable song from the Emerson Lake And Powell project a decade before.
“As the late great Frank Zappa would say, this is nostalgia for the old folks. But we ain’t old, right” Keith Emerson jokes before they play “Knife Edge” from their first album. It sounds very slow and tired, but the following song “Bitches Crystal” from Takrus sounds much better. Perhaps because it was never played live before this tour, but Carl Palmer’s frantic drumming under Emerson’s piano lines sounds fresh and exciting.
The relative rarity “Prelude And Fugue,” an adaptation of Friedrich Gulda’s piece released only on The Return Of The Manticore box set in 1993, is played before a fun “Honky Tonk Train Blues Blues.”
“Lucky Man” is played closer to the original all-band arrangement than the acoustic version common in the seventies. Lake’s voice sounds much more husky and lower, but it doesn’t diminish the impact of the piece.
“Tarkus” includes an interesting new introduction before the band launch into the mechanized nightmare of “Eruption.” Emerson plays around with the arrangement by changing the tone of the keyboards. During “Stones Of Years” he plays a grand piano sound instead of the stark moog noise of past renditions, and during the “Iconoclast” instrumental he pulls out the Hammond organ for a late sixties feel.
Halfway through the piece they launch into “The Hut Of Baba Yaga” and “The Great Gates Of Kiev” from Pictures At An Exhibition. The segue seems to catch the audience off guard. The show ends with the magnificent strains of the Mussorsky piece.
The encore begins with “Fanfare For The Common Man” from Works. At about five minutes of the piece they rip into “Rondo.” Emerson throws in many well known melodies such as “Flight Of The Bumble Bee” and Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna” from the Carmina Burana. Carl Palmer’s drum solo occupies several minutes of the piece before a return to “Rondo” which includes more Orff and a playful rendition of the “Fugue In D Minor” by J. S. Bach for an ecstatic audience.
Knife Edge is packaged in a single pocket cardboard sleeve. It is a great sounding and nicely packaged title worth having as a great document from latter day Emerson Lake & Palmer.