Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Live At Nassau Coliseum ’78 (Shout! Factory 826663-12398-B1)

 Live At Nassau Coliseum ’78 (Shout! Factory 826663-12398-B1)

Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – February 9th, 1978

Disc 1 (58:34):  Hoedown, Tarkus, Take A Pebble, Piano Concerto #1 1st Movement, Maple Leaf Rag, Take A Pebble (Reprise), C’est La Vie, Lucky Man, Pictures At An Exhibition

Disc 2 (49:24):  Tiger In A Spotlight, Watching Over You, Tank, drum solo, The Enemy God Dances With The Spirits (Excerpt from “The Scythian Suite” 2nd Movement), Nutrocker, Pirates, Fanfare For The Common Man

Largely dismissed as an uninspiring swan song, the past year has seen healthy interest and reassessment of Emerson Lake And Palmer’s US tour in 1978.  More than just a band touring to recoup their losses from the previous summer, it shows a a very talented band enjoying playing live after the release of Works II.

ELP played two nights at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, on February 9th and 10th.  The first night was taped and broadcast over the radio by WLIR and is the source of many unofficial releases of at least part of the show including Last Impression (Nightmare Digital Audio Lab ndalr2002) and Past And Present (Best Beat bb892).

Last summer Shout! Factory released A Time And A Place, a four disc live set featuring tracks (many unreleased officially) cover shows over twenty years and included four “Tank,” “Drum Solo,” “The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits” and “Tarkus” from the February 9th, 1978 Nassau Coliseum.  In February 2011 they finally released the entire tape on 2CDs.

It is a great recording and overall production, more in line with collector’s expectations for the official bootleg boxsets.  The only slight negative is they were not able to find the complete show.  The “Peter Gunn” introduction, “Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression Part 2,” played after “Pictures At An Exhibition,” and the encore “Show Me The Way To Go Home” are still missing.

The recording cuts in right before they start with “Hoedown,” one of their most effective set openers, and follow directly with “Tarkus.”  It is reduced to seventeen minutes from the half hour long epics of the past, but does include the “Aquatarkus” section.  Emerson plays both the theme from Star Wars and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind during the improvisation, two science fiction hit movies from the late seventies. 

Lake’s “Take A Pebble” serves as a framing device for Emerson’s John Williams inspired “Piano Concerto #1” from Works.  Lake follows with his own two song set “C’est La Vie” and “Lucky Man,” an acoustic rest from the electronic crunch of the rest of the set.  Later in the set Lake sings “Watching Over You,” a lullaby written for his daughter Natasha who was there that night. 

Emerson introduces “a man who needs no introduction, so we’re not not gonna give him one” before Carl Palmer’s showcase “Tank” and “The Enemy God” with his electronic drum solo in between.  “Nutrocker” blows the roof off the building and receives the loudest ovation of the night. 

“Did you like it??  Did you REALLY REALLY like it?”  Emerson asks.  “I thought it was terrible” he jokes before starting the final epic of the set “Pirates.”

“Fanfare For The Common Man” is the first encore.  The ten minute long improvisation contains references to Freddie King’s “Hideaway,” Leonard Bernstein’s “America” and Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”  The latter would be most recognizable to the audience from 2001:  A Space Odyssey, which was given a theatrical re-release the previous summer.

The tape cuts out before “Show Me The Way To Go Home,” the final song they play in New York for many years (until they reunite in the nineties).

Shout! Factory offer the title in a basic slimline double with a four page insert.  It has a stage shot of the actual show and quotes from Emerson and Palmer (but not Lake), thanking the label for releasing the tape.  Live At Nassau Coliseum ’78, along with Legacy (Virtuoso 099/100) which has the Boston show from earlier in the week, are two surprising and tremendous ELP releases worth having.

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