On This Day (August 1)…The Beginning of the End for ELP

Emerson, Lake & Palmer performed on this day in 1998 at the Casino Ballroom in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.

Ticket for the show. Retrieved from here.

ELP were about to begin a tour with two other titanic bands: Dream Theater and Deep Purple, the former of which is one of the major modern prog bands, the latter of which has teetered on the edge of prog rock throughout its history. However, ELP was the only band to perform on this night.

This was the first concert ELP performed in 1998. Gone were the days in which the group spent the majority of the year on tour, sometimes even doing two concerts a night. However, what they lacked in quantity, they still managed to make up for in quality! Recordings from this tour show that while Keith Emerson was beginning to struggle onstage with his hand, negatively affecting his accuracy, Greg Lake was still bringing his A-game, his vocal performances some of the strongest of the decade. Overall, the band still sounded quite good.

Perhaps most excitingly, the setlist of this concert brought forth some very exciting things. The concert opened with the beginnings of a new piece entitled “Crossing the Rubicon”, a grand number in the style of classic ELP featuring a quote from a Rimsky-Korsakov piece and memorable synthesizer work.

As fate would have it, this number would be the last piece ELP ever wrote together barring any sort of currently-unknown collaboration. Like the tour upon which it debuted, however, it’s a high note to close on.

This concert was recorded, and is in circulation online.

The Venue

The concert took place at the Casino Ballroom, a venue which is even older than the modern connotations of the word “casino”. When it opened on the fourth of July, 1899 (with a formal opening eleven days later), the word still was connected to its apparent Italian origins as as “summer house”. Hopefully, they did not mean to use the other translations, which apparently include both “brothel” and “mess”!

In its long history, the ballroom has seen several transformations and renovations, starting with the construction of a 5000-capacity ballroom floor in the early twentieth century.

Postcard of the ballroom interior in the 1930s. Retrieved from here.

The venue hit its peak in popularity in the 1930s during the big band era. Rock ‘n roll later came to the venue, with some notable concerts available here. One of the most infamous events in its history was a riot involving fans sans tickets to Jethro Tull concert, on which Yes was a supporting act. Thankfully, no one was injured, though some arrests were made.

A temporary moratorium was placed on rock ‘n roll in Hampton Beach, though that was lifted by the early 80s. While the ballroom was briefly known as the “Club Casino” in the latter half of the twentieth century, the venue regained its old name by the time ELP came through. Its capacity apparently is around 1800-2000.

The venue is still in use today, and its website can be found here.

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