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by Andy Clarke from Portsmouth
This was my first time seeing the band after a tip off from a fellow ELP fan who I attended the Wembley Empire Pool gig with in 1973.
The band were awesome, playing in a small back room of the pub with standing room only. The crowd were really into this gig, many ELP fans young and old attended and like me, were blown away with the power of this band, with Tom on keyboards, Lez on drums, and Tony on vocals and guitars.
They had it all. Here are some comments on the set-list as I remember it.
Firstly a nice surprise, John Young (of "Asia" and "Quango") played an hour-long support. Some nice ballads and covers here and he set us up nicely for the main band. Noddys Puncture came on about 9pm so here we go.
A nice opener. Powerful rendition showing the true potential of the band.
With some clever sampling of Gary Moore's guitar riff on Tom's keyboards.
Edgar Winter number... Lez on drums really powers this track along. I haven't heard this track since seeing the Old Grey Whistle Test in the 70's.
A Rare Bird classic, I loved this song, with excellent Hammond work from Tom. These songs bring back great memories, especially live.
Ritchie Blackmore's "Rainbow" version again with Tom playing guitar sound on his synth. This really got the crowd going. A great addition to the set.
Touch & Go:
One of the more recent ELP classics. Strong melodies from Tom on synth and Tony on vocals, a great rendition for the many dedicated ELP fans attending tonight, starting the run of ELP tracks which were to follow.
Romeo & Juliet:
ELP "classical" piece off the Black Moon album. This seemed to be a favourite with everyone.
Impressive is an under-statement! The band really nailed this one. It's one of my favourite ELP tracks and Tom really works hard to cover the intricate keyboard pieces. Ten out of ten for this.
Learning to Fly:
This followed quickly, they must like ELPowell!
The Smile has Left Your Eyes:
Asia ballad... this is where the softer part of the gig comes in and like all good gigs, slowing down the night works, especially when you have someone like Tony on acoustic and vocals. Well done Tony!
Affairs of the Heart:
A great song. I like the way the keyboard parts and drums build up towards the end.
Well, they could not have performed this better. The Moog ending had everyone cheering. Classic ELP
Fanfare for the Common Man:
This was one the crowd seemed eager to hear, especially the younger fans (I mean under 35). They also included Blues Variation off the Pictures live album. Tom really revelled in the Moog and Hammond work and then out came the knives and the playing the keyboard upside down, what a showman. I have to say he plays the Hammond "backwards" part every bit as good as Emerson!
1st Impression Pt2 / Tarkus / America / Rondo Medley:
Simply awesome. Rondo was the best version I have ever heard! It even included a great drum solo by Lez, which raised the roof at the end.
One of my favourites, great Hammond work again. This was the "last" track and the applause was ear shattering.
Cover of the Focus track, another not heard since the 70's. These old covers really add to the evening, great choice lads.
Nutrocker / Honky Tonk Train Blues Medley:
Tom on Clav and Piano showing us his versatility.
Then the band invited John Young on stage for another version of Hoedown with Tom and John taking turns at the keyboards. What a bonus, good sport John!!
Finally the band added extra tracks "Smoke on the Water" and "Wishing Well". What a night! I hope to see this band again soon, looks like a trip to Rochdale.
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