Size mattered to Emesron, Lake & Palmer. And on this seven-CD/10-LP set of five shows from across their career, it’s interesting to note that the 5,000 or so who saw them at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1992 is a drop in the ocean compared to the hundreds of thousands who witnessed their show at 1970’s Isle of Wight festival and 1974’s California Jam, or even the 66,000 who showed up at the Montreal Olympic Stadium in 1977.
It’s never easy to record the subtleties (and ELP had a few) at such massive events, particularly when you’re trying to play a revolving piano while dangling 50 feet above the crowd – which is one reason for their bombastic reputation among their prog peers.
It’s also difficult to hear the 60-piece orchestra that accompanied them on their financially disastrous 1977 tour, although your patience will be rewarded on Pirates. But the majesty is still intact in 1992, and to a lesser extent on 1997’s Phoenix Union Hall show, although there’s compensation in the shape of 21st Century Schizoid Man.
The real problem is that all but one of these shows has already been issued, and even ELP completists might baulk at having to buy them all again just to hear the Phoenix concert.