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Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Live At Montreux 1997 (DVD)

It's all about the 'Keith said,' 'Carl said'! (Sorry about that.) Before another time-out was called by each namesake roughly six years ago, Mssrs. Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer thrilled diehard fans with tours of Europe and North and South America. Whether the guys were truly enjoying themselves or going through the motions is moot; in fact, let this DVD serve as a testament to the former. The only other recent concert available on DVD is Live At The Royal Albert Hall, and dare I say I prefer this document to that one, even if Greg's pipes are a little rustier. The then-fiftysomething Emerson cranks along in his distinctly reinless style, unhindered for the most part by the ulner nerve damage he suffered, and the subsequent surgery, several years earlier (Palmer also underwent surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists following the Black Moon tour).

Expertly filmed, many close-ups are afforded all three, with the soundmix affecting several of Keith's instruments — a quiet organ patch on his GEM keyboard is succeeded by a loud synth patch, etc. Regardless, this is a very enjoyable show, even if certain staples like "Rondo," "Honky Tonk Train Blues," "Fanfare For The Common Man," and "Lucky Man" seem a bit stale due to making the setlist for practically every tour — nothing can be done about "Lucky Man," being a song the fans always call for. However, there are a number of very good surprises in store, like "Tiger In A Spotlight," "Bitches Crystal," "From The Beginning," and "Touch And Go." Those last two come off a storm; one of Lake's single best songs, "From The Beginning" is a mood lifter with its ornate melody and sublime synth solo that cause the eyes to well up, laden with emotion. Palmer's percussive treatment lends itself equally well. "Touch And Go" is, well, a rocker: not a fast-paced one, but something that stomps along, nonetheless. Emo's classically-inspired keyboard melody would transpose easily to electric guitar. Whichever way, it's a melody that sticks! Another plus is we now have a complete version of "Karnevil 9 – 1st Impression, Part 2" instead of an excerpt as on Royal Albert Hall…too bad the band doesn't plow through the entire suite!

On the downside, the medley is better experienced live than on screen. Yes, the knife-stabbing antics and Bach's "Toccata"-played-backwards stunt are here, fairly entertaining if you want to wax nostalgic, otherwise employ the skip function. In the case of Palmer's drum solo (which comes far too late in the program), the fast-forward might be tapped because little has changed in his solo scheme for many, many years. From the alternate cymbal and tom cacophony, gunfire double-kick maneuver-while-removing-shirt, slamming the gongs, and finally setting up a tempo rise on (again) the twin kick drums and tambourine, it seems as though every drum solo caught on tape has been mailed in, a slave to routine. Considering his level of proficiency, it would be nice if he mixed it up a little more, and introduced some new moves. Also, the DVD has no extras, but fret not — it's very inexpensive (if you see it for $20, that's too much).

Overall, another sweet prog-rock DVD to add to your collection, and by one of the pioneering groups, to boot! New liner notes by Keith, Greg and Carl top off the package, which is actually closer to ninety minutes than the eighty-four the insert reports.


1. Introduction by Claude Nobs
2. Karnevil 9 – 1st Impression, Part 2
3. Tiger In The Spotlight
4. Hoedown
5. Touch And Go
6. From The Beginning
7. Knife Edge
8. Bitches Crystal
9. Dance Creole
10. Honky Tonk Train Blues
11. Take A Pebble
12. Lucky Man
13. Tarkus/Pictures At An Exhibition
14. Medley:
– Fanfare For The Common Man
– Rondo
– Carmina Burana
– Carl Palmer: Drum Solo
– Toccata In D Minor

— Total Time: ±90 minutes —

Added: June 6th 2010
Reviewer: Elias Granillo
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Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Live At Montreux 1997 (DVD)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-06-06 09:48:45
My Score:

*********This is a review of the 2010 Blu-Ray release of Live at Montreux 1997*********

It's taken them six years, but Eagle Rock has finally given the excellent ELP performance at the 1997 Montreux Jazz Festival the Blu-Ray treatment. If you've seen the spectacular DVD release already, then there's no need to go into specifics of the show itself. Let's just say the band were in fine form that day, and though it was more of a nostalgia act at the time, surprising cuts like "Take a Pebble", "Touch and Go", "Tiger in the Spotlight", and furious renditions of "Knife Edge", "Karnevil 9-1st Impression", "Hoedown", and "From the Beginning" show the band firing on all cylinders as if it was the early 70's all over again. As always, Keith Emerson steals the show with his blazing performance on piano, Hammond, Moog, and Alesis synth. The guy is a virtuoso and showman for sure.

The Blu-Ray quality is quite stunning, the hi-def experience giving the viewer the feeling that he/she is right there in the front row with the rest of the audience at Montreux. Audio is killer too, so if you have a set of surround sound speakers, you'll have the rafters shaking with ELP's symphonic might. Honestly, I can't say enough about the Blu-Ray presentation here-this is a prog Blu-Ray that you'll need to have in your collection.

Only downsize here is, like the originall DVD release, there's no bonus features to be had. This seems to be an alarming trend with Eagle Rock, as they seem to be re-releasing Blu-Ray versions of earlier DVD sets, yet with all the years in between they are not even including anything extra in these to entice the fans to re-purchase these shows once again. I can't imagine that it would have been impossible to get some recent interviews with Emerson, Lake, or Palmer, talking about the Montreux show, or even some commentary from the immortal Claude Nobs about his take on the band's peformance. Something, anything...come on guys.

Regardless, if you didn't purchase this the first time around, now's the time, and if you have a Blu-Ray player, it's probably worth it to upgrade and experience this set from ELP in hi-def glory.

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