Wisdom Decay Bologna (Siréne-077)
Stadio Comunale, Bologna, Italy – June 25th, 1972
Hoedown, Tarkus, Endless Enigma (including Fugue), Take A Pebble (including Lucky Man & piano improvisation), Pictures At An Exhibition
Wisdom Decay Bologna documents the majority of one of ELP’s “Great Shows We’ll Never Forget” found on their website. Greg Lakes tells the story: “ June 25th, we played in Bologna, Italy. It’s a story I often tell. It involves the Italian promoter, Francesco Sanavio, who told us we didn’t have to bring our own lights, or our own staging… It came to like 6:00 P.M., 50,000 people, no lights, just the floodlights lights for the stadium lights, so, we had to play. We played and it went down fantastic! The crowd went mad and it was a great scene… I walked back on the stage playing ‘Rondo’, and I get to the center of the stage and boom boom, boom boom, I’m playing away, and all of a sudden, this rocket, not one of those rockets that you buy in the fireworks shop, but one of those really big rockets. It shot straight between my legs! It went out and hit the audience…It went out 50 yards or so, and exploded into the audience! One of these air explosions!
“And then the entire stage burst into fireworks. And what he had done, during the show, the builders that were still there had erected a scaffold in the back. A wooden scaffolding, of which Francesco had put a fireworks display at the last minute. He was going to let it off at the end of the show. And as he let it off, it fell over, and all the fireworks just shot right through the stage and right into the audience!… And it was unbelieveable!! It was all over the stage, spinning around! They were big fireworks you know, the Catherine Wheels spinning and hitting the drum kit, and the carpet was burning. The whole thing was going!” It’s a great story but unfortunately this tape doesn’t capture “Rondo” which was played as the encore in 1972. But what we do have is very interesting. The sound quality is fair at best.It is distant from the stage and there is a lot of conversation throughout the show.
The quality improves in quieter passages like the piano improvisation or during Keith Emerson’s moog tangents that are loudly applauded, but it’s a typical ELP audience tape from the early 70’s. The concert is as good as Lake describes it. “Tarkus” in this show is one of the longest captured before the Brain Salad Surgery tour the following year. It includes “Epitaph” as is the custom as well as various other improvisations through out that are phenomenal to hear. “Take A Pebble” is more than twenty minutes and Lake sings the first line of The Beatles’ “Mother Nature’s Son” in “Lucky Man” (“Born a poor young country boy… A bullet had found him”). Truly a unique event. I would say this release is solely for the ELP collector, I’m not sure the casual collector would get much out of this. But for the willing this is a great show. Perhaps someday the encore will surface and we can hear the fireworks display! (GS)