Emerson, Lake & Palmer Newcastle City Hall 1971

Emerson Lake & Palmer Newcastle City Hall 1971
Support from Michael Chapman & Spontaneous Combustion
Emerson, Lake & Palmer were pretty hot stuff in 1971. They were very popular, and just on the verge of mega success. My mate had their first eponymous album and Pictures at an Exhibition, which had been recorded at Newcastle City Hall earlier that year. We used to go round to his house and we would play both albums again and again. The music on th first album was a curious blend of the pomp classical-rock of Keith Emerson, coupled with the beautiful melodies of Greg Lake, and Carl Palmer’s drum solo Tank. I would always ask to hear Take a Pebble and Lucky Man. I’d seen Keith Emerson in concert in the Nice at Sunderland Empire, and I knew how good a showman he was, so when ELP returned to the City Hall later in 1971, I bought a ticket. I remember being totally blown away by ELP that night; I had a seat close to the front, which always helps. Going to concerts was still a relatively new experience for me, and I would watch every minute of each gig that I attended, studying the musicians and their onstage antics, and ELP had so many strengths to wonder at. Emerson live was a spectacle to behold in himself. Surrounded by two Hammond organs, a Moog, a grand piano, and a Lesley cabinet; Keith was the ultimate early 70s performer. He would play two organs at once, pull them about and on top of himself, stab the organ with a massive dagger, use the dagger to hold down notes, and reach into the piano and play the strings with his hand. He would also famously run up the steps at the back of the City Hall stage and play the massive pipe organ, and is recorded doing so on the Pictures album. ELP’s concert set at that time featured most of the tracks from the first album; I also think Hoedown was included, perhaps as the opener. The Nice live favourite Rondo remained in the set from Emerson’s previous band, and Nutrocker was the fun encore. Pictures also featured, with the aforementioned trip up to the City Hall organ. The programme I have included here is worthy of special mention. It probably doesn’t look much from the scan, bit its actually one of the best produced programmes I have in my collection. Its a small booklet with a white card cover and the band’s name embossed across the top. Inside each picture page is separated from the next by a clear plastic page which contain the text surrounding the photos. It is really a lovely item, which my description can’t possibly do justice to. Looking through it the other day, I discovered that I’d kept a flyer for support act Michael Chapman, which I have also included here. Spontaneous Combustion were first on the bill at this gig. I’ve blogged separately about both of these acts elsewhere. Michael popped up all the time in those days, as support act on a number of tours of major bands, and was a good opening act with some great songs. Spontaneous Combustion were a largely instrumental prog/psych trio, who were produced by Greg Lake. They played a great version of Sabre Dance, as I recall.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mitch on January 8, 2014 at 11:37 am

    I was at this concert and also have the programme. It must be one of the best made concert programmes I have ever seen!

    However Peter, I don’t believe that Spontaneous Combustion appeared at this show – only Michael Chapman.

    ELP’s set list was:
    Hoe Down, Tarkus, Take A Pebble, Lucky Man, Knife Edge, Bitches Crystal, Jeremy Bender, Rondo.
    Encores: America, Nut Rocker.


    • Posted by vintagerock on January 8, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks Mitch. Yes its a great little programme. I think you could well be right about Spontaneous Combustion. I read somewhere that they were on the bill, but to be honest I can’t recall seeing them there either. I thought it was my memory letting me down, but I agree with you. I did see Spontaneous Combustion at Sunderland Rink on a Harvest package tour.


  2. Posted by Julie Edmenson on August 19, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Just found these blogs completely by accident and am transported back to ELP’s 1972 Newcastle gig and earlier still to The Nice at Sunderland! Fantastic times, music which just blew me away and an unforgettable feeling of privilege at having ‘been there, done that and (literally) bought the t-shirt’ as music history was made!


    • Posted by vintagerock on August 19, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      Thanks Julie Happy days which in some ways seem so long ago, and yet sometimes they seem just like yesterday
      Best wishes Peter


      • Posted by Julie Edmenson on August 19, 2015 at 10:24 pm

        So true Peter! I remember what I was wearing, the friends I was with (some of whom are still friends!) and the absolute thrill of my first live gig, The Nice! That feeling has never left me, however many festivals and gigs I go/have been to! All good wishes to you!

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