On This Day (February 5)…Works in Philly

Emerson, Lake & Palmer performed at the Spectrum Arena in Philadelphia on this day in 1978.

Ticket for the show. Retrieved from here.

The Concert

By now, the second leg of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Works Tour was fully underway. The group had already performed no less than seventeen gigs (with an eighteenth planned gig postponed for unknown reasons) since beginning this leg of the tour on January 16 at the Montreal Forum! Doubtless, the group was exhausted. A vacation in the Bahamas together afterwards was perhaps just what they needed to unwind.

Promotion for show featuring some inaccurate information. Retrieved from here.

The concert setlist for tonight did not appear to include an encore, according to setlist.fm. As I suspected, however, a quick look on YouTube proved that they did indeed perform the tour standard encore, “Show Me the Way to Go Home”. The remainder of the songs played were the regular setlist of this tour.

Ad for the show. Retrieved from here.

The concert was reportedly well-attended and featured some of ELP’s standard of great showmanship along with great music. Sadly, the reporter covering the band’s concert was not up to standard him or herself.

From an alternate universe of pianist “Kieth” Emerson, drummer Greg Lake and balladeer-guitarist Carl Palmer? Retrieved from here.

As I alluded to above, the concert has been recorded and is relatively easy to find online.

From a YouTube thumbnail.

The Venue

The group were returning performers at the Philadelphia Spectrum. They had already been there for two dates in June of the previous year early in their Works Tour, at which time they were still getting used to touring as a three-piece after being forced to part ways with their orchestra.

According to setlist.fm, the Spectrum Arena was ELP’s single most-visited arena with seven total stops by the band over the years, with this date being the last time they ever performed here. From its opening on September 30, 1967, the Spectrum hosted the Philadelphia Flyers, a hockey team currently well-known for the mascot Gritty. It was, in fact, built as quickly as possible to allow the team to play there for the 1967-68 season. The arena also hosted the NBA 76ers.

The Spectrum circa the 70s | photo via nytimes.com
Exterior of the venue. Retrieved from here.

With a nearly-20,000 capacity for concerts according to Wikipedia, the Spectrum hosted a great many music fans over the years. At one point, it was even called “the leading concert facility in the United States” by Billboard Magazine. Yes alone performed here a staggering twenty-nine times over the years, including two concerts from their Relayer Tour. Rainbow performed three times, first in 1979 on their Down to Earth Tour. A list of concerts which took place there in alphabetical order can be found here.

A Billboard Magazine ad for the Spectrum from 1974 | via wikipedia
Ad for the arena. Retrieved from here

While this list of concerts is extensive and the teams which played here are well-known, the arena was likely brought the greatest amount of fame for being featured in the Rocky franchise. The Spectrum was the location of the climactic boxing match between scrappy challenger Rocky Balboa and world champion Apollo Creed at the end of the first movie.

The spectrum was finally closed on Halloween of 2009, and was demolished following that. However, its following lives on. It even has a fairly active Facebook page!

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Venue Sources:

  • Edit on 2020-02-18: Information added.
  • Edit on 2020-07-13: Information on the Spectrum added. Information on Rocky added.
  • Edit on 2020-07-22: Information on Yes at the Spectrum added.
  • Edit on 2020-09-14: Optimized for new site.
  • Edit on 2020-09-29: Information on Rainbow at the Spectrum added.

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