Friday, March 28, 2003

[118.1] NICE TRY (AGAIN)

If guilty pleasure is your thing, and you're of a certain generation, you might be tempted to check out '70s prog keyboard whizz Keith Emerson and his re-sprayed band The Nice on 17 October 2003at the London Astoria. I caught them on 6 October 2002 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and was left in two minds. On the one hand, Emerson is a substantial player, and his short solo piano set (shades of Meade Lux Lewis with a little Bachian chromaticism and embellishment) gave some indication of what he's capable of. On the other hand... Lee Jackson's voice was simply atrocious, and the laudably-conceived instrumental takes on some of the better Emerson Lake and Palmer fayre ('Tarkus' and 'Aquatarkus', notably) ended up as near train-wrecks. The poor acoustics at the back didn't help much, either. A judiciously fair and detailed review has been provided by the estimable Charles Imperatori on Evophonic. He knows more of the Nice material than me, so I'll leave this particular field to him. Both the good and the not-so-good Emerson are on show on the latest CD, Emerson Plays Emerson, incidentally. 'Cumbersome, Fake and Trauma'? Sometimes, but also with flashes of quixotic genius, too. The Five Bridges Suite is still a glorious (and gloriously flawed) testament to an era of rock-classical-country innovation and innocense, by the way. 'High Level Fugue (Bridge No. 4)' is worth the entry charge alone. And not because it's on mid-price these days...

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