On This Day (January 22)…Even More Works in Chicago

Emerson, Lake & Palmer performed on this day in 1978 at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago.

Ticket from the gig. Retrieved as always from here.

Unlike the previous two dates, for which there was some venue-related confusion, all the sources I have used are in agreement that the band was actually at the International Amphitheatre on this last of three nights in Chicago! The group got their first night off since getting back on the road on the 16th following this performance, doing nothing on the 23rd.

This portion of the Works Tour was done to help recoup some of the major financial losses the band suffered during the orchestral leg of the tour. This tour, while at the time seen as a serious miscalculation which helped spell the end of the group for the time being and caused them to struggle with expenses, is actually quite interesting from a historical perspective. As far as I know, it was the first time a band had attempted to take an orchestra with them on tour. The struggles can be expected; many times someone attempts to do something new, it can backfire. Since then, a few other bands, notably Yes blog favorites Deep Purple, have repeated the stunt to far greater success.

The setlist, as ever, likely consisted both of old favorites and new numbers. My ever-helpful source setlist.fm does not even list this concert as having occurred, so I cannot state the setlist definitively, but enough concerts around this one have known setlists that I am fairly certain in that assertion. Interestingly, from later in the Works Tour, when “Tarkus” was played, Keith Emerson would sometimes include a snippet of music from Star Wars in his improvisational quotes, a nod to a then-recent cultural phenomenon.

This concert may have been recorded. I will have to update this when I get more definite confirmation.

Finally, I can talk about the venue at which they performed, known without a doubt to be the International Amphitheatre. It was constructed in 1934, apparently mostly as a location for the International Livestock Exhibition, on the site of a horse-racing track which had previously burned down. Wikipedia states that it seated 9000.

Photo of the Amphitheatre’s exterior from a 1953 greeting card; retrieved from here.

It was on the cutting edge during its construction, both by having air conditioning and designated media spaces (source). Both major American political parties held presidential nominating conventions here, the most infamous being the 1968 Democratic National Convention which led to rioting.

Many concerts also took place here in the day, some of which are listed here (though, based on ELP’s entries alone, it doesn’t necessarily appear to be the most complete or accurate list!); another list can be found here. The venue was finally demolished in 1999 after its upkeep costs surpassed the ever-dwindling revenue it brought in from large events.

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