On This Day (August 7)…Three Bands at Hartford

Dream Theater, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Deep Purple performed on this day in 1998 at the Meadows Music Theater in Hartford, Connecticut.

Ad for the show and several other shows from the same time period. Retrieved from here.

The three bands had come together for a nearly monthlong tour throughout North America. This was the second concert on the tour to feature all three bands. ELP had also played a few warmup dates, and Dream Theater had also played a warmup date. The three major bands reportedly provided over four hours of music on their early dates. ELP in particular notably shortened their setlist for later concerts on the tour.

Deep Purple were at the time supporting their most recently-released album, Abandon. ELP had no album yet to support, but had the first new song in four years, “Crossing the Rubicon”, as a dark horse opener. As their last album, In the Hot Seat, was never played onstage by the group in full, it had been even longer since truly new music had been heard by fans of the group in concert halls. Dream Theater had released an album, Falling into Infinity, the previous year.

Reviews indicated both ELP and Deep Purple were playing brilliantly on this night. Greg Lake’s vocal quality was highlighted in a few as well; this is significant, as ELP’s impending breakup would be blamed in part by Keith Emerson on the degradation of Lake’s voice. Such reviews as the one to highlight just how good he sounded point to one of two things: either Emerson heard something listeners didn’t, or there was no problem at all.

Overall, while several aspects of the night were highlighted, the biggest complaints revolved around the fact that these three bands were all on the bill. A few different suggestions were offered by reviews, including to cut Dream Theater! Another suggested ELP had played too long. Either way, such comments point to the idea that there can be too much of a good thing at once!

No recording of Dream Theater’s set has thus far surfaced. ELP’s set was recorded in its entirety and is in circulation online. Deep Purple’s set was similarly recorded in its entirety, and is also in circulation online.

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