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La Presse, August 27, 1977

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Article Source:

La Presse


Pierre Beaulieu

Contributed by:

Sylvie Turgeon and James Hatch


A great leap for rock music!

Some people prefer the music of Emerson, Lake & Palmer while others find it a bit hermetic and enjoy Pink Floyd's music more. It is a matter of taste.

However, there is one domain which is a lot less subjective, the one that relates to the quality of the musical event that each provided at the Olympic Stadium this summer (Pink Floyd in July and ELP last night).

Well aware of their popularity, Pink Floyd had developed a concert to make money, the Montreal concert alone gave the band close to half a million dollars. On the other hand, ELP greatly invested into the long term. The three Brits had something to prove. They had been dreaming for the past three years of offering to their fans a rock event as they had never seen before. The day after the end of their North American tour, which lasted a little more than two months, the band returns to Europe, where it will begin the second part of their extraordinary event next month, with a deficit and this, even if the take was great and regardless of the incredibly huge crowds that ELP have attracted at each of their appearances. However, they are leaving the continent more popular than ever before.

It took six hours for Pink Floyd to install its equipment and adjust the sound at the Olympic Stadium. Emerson, Lake & Palmer worked for three days regardless of the hundreds of hours they had spent adjusting everything over the past six months.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer respected their fans.

They developed a well-balanced concert and executed it flawlessly. ELP dedicated God knows how much time to break in their machine, which now works perfectly. The 75,000 fans that were present at the event last night at the Olympic Stadium, some say 80,000, attended the most important and brilliant event ever presented in the history of rock music.

We have long spoken about the incredible army of hardware and technicians, we have mentioned the 72,000 watt sound system from a Montreal based company, we have also written about the quality of the 57 musicians and six member choir that accompanied the English band, we have talked about the two months that they spent working together six hours a day, six days a week, we have talked about the lighting system developed by Montreal's Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, we talked about the temperance of the visual effects, the meticulousness involved in creating this jewel, we have talked about the respect that Emerson, Lake & Palmer have had for the 160 people that accompanied them throughout this tour; everything was set up to make everybody's life as comfortable as possible.

Back in June, Carl Palmer told me that "We could have done something half the size. The fans would have been happy and we would have made a ton of money. However, we simply did not want to give the fans what they wanted, we wanted to give them more. We wanted to indulge ourselves and the fans as well. We wanted to take a step forward and I believe that this concert is an important one in rock music."

It is in fact a major leap and in the long term, ELP will reap the benefits. Even if it is only the increase in sales of their latest album Works, which they performed for us last night.

Contrary to what we saw at the Pink Floyd concert, the crowd listened attentively and surprisingly throughout the entire performance. The fans were particularly warm towards the band and gave them four standing ovations.

For three hours, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, often considered as the greatest musicians in rock, took us on a tour of their garden. During those three hours, they brilliantly guided us through jazz, rock, ballads like "C'est La Vie" and "Lucky Man," and classical music.

A concert blooming with music, remarkable production values and Gilles Talbot's organization was beyond compare.

Of course, the sound quality was not that of La Place des Arts, but it was nevertheless excellent for an amphitheater like the stadium. I now dare people to tell me that we cannot have good sound in the stadium. It is only a matter of time and money.

If there was to be one glitch, if we are looking for glitches, Emerson could have avoided, at the end of such a class act, throwing his organ all over the place and rolling on the floor. But then again, it is a matter of taste.

©1977 La Presse. All rights reserved.