Tour Guide: ELP’s Debut Tour

In my “tour guide” series, I’ll be setting up guides to certain tours by certain bands. This is an aspect of a project I have been undertaking in some form or other since the summer of 2017, with some collaboration. I hope it’s useful to fellow music historians and aficionados!

Emerson, Lake & Palmer exploded onto the scene in 1970, forming in late spring and already releasing their first album six months later. All three members involved were known quantities on the rock scene, especially keyboardist Keith Emerson, who then as he is now was one of the most famous keyboardists in rock. Greg Lake, formerly of King Crimson, nonetheless quickly established himself as an effective lancer who could balance Emerson both onstage and in the studio. Carl Palmer, formerly of Atomic Rooster, rounded the group out.

Image result for elp plymouth guildhall 1970
Photograph of the band early in their career onstage. Retrieved from pinterest

This debut tour allowed ELP to introduce themselves to England and Western Europe. It coincided with the release of their first album on November 20 of that year, which made up the majority of the setlist. The group’s take on “Pictures at an Exhibition”, the Nice’s “Rondo”, and a cover of “Nutrocker” also showed up in lieu of other original material, as the band simply didn’t have a ton of it yet.

The respected DJ John Peel famously stated of the band that they were “a waste of talent and electricity”. Other critics were kinder, however, and fan response was positive from the start. The hard work ELP put in in this first year set the tone for all to follow, and the debut tour gave them the momentum which would carry them for the next four years.

The Tour

In total, the group played thirty-four known shows (with some ambiguities addressed below), one rehearsal gig, and recorded one TV appearance. One gig was cancelled and rescheduled. The Lyceum Theater gig on December 9 was filmed and later shown in theaters. One other gig, the Isle of Wight performance usually treated as their official debut, has been officially released. Four other concerts from this tour are extant and in circulation online.

Below is a chart of all their known gigs, planned gigs and TV appearances. There will be links taking you to gigs I’ve either covered or reviewed. Anything else pertinent (venue info from another gig, etc) will also be linked.

DateLocationRecorded?Other info
1970-08-21Lyceum Theater, London (UK)NoDress rehearsal
1970-08-23Plymouth Guildhall, Plymouth (UK)IncompleteHere
1970-08-29Isle of Wight Festival (UK)Officially releasedHere
1970-09-19Winter Gardens, Malvern (UK)NoHere
1970-09-21Civic Hall, Wolverhampton (UK)NoHere
1970-09-24Town Hall, Watford (UK)NoHere
1970-09-25City Hall, Hull (UK)NoHere
1970-09-26Starlight Room, Boston (UK)NoHere
1970-09-27De Montfort Hall, Leicester (UK)NoHere
1970-09-28Portsmouth Guildhall, Portsmouth (UK)NoHere
1970-10-01City Hall, Leeds (UK)NoHere
1970-10-04City Hall, Newcastle (UK)NoHere
1970-10-07Brighton Dome, Brighton (UK)NoHere
1970-10-09Greens Playhouse, Glasgow (UK)NoHere
1970-10-11Caird Hall, Dundee (UK)NoHere
1970-10-16Technical College, Waltham (UK)NoHere
1970-10-17Brunel University, Uxbridge (UK)NoMay not have happened; discussed here
1970-10-19Colston Hall, Bristol (UK)NoHere
1970-10-20Winter Gardens, Bournmouth (UK)NoHere
1970-10-21Town Hall, Birmingham (UK)NoHere
1970-10-25Fairfield Hall, Croydon (UK)NoHere
1970-10-26Royal Festival Hall, London (UK)NoHere
1970-10-27City Hall, Sheffield (UK)NoHere
1970-10-28St. George’s Hall, Liverpool (UK)N/ACancelled; Keith Emerson was ill
1970-11-22St. George’s Hall, Liverpool (UK)NoRescheduled from Oct. 28; Here
1970-11-26Planned Recording of Beat Club, Bremen (GER)N/ACancelled; weather was bad
1970-11-28Jahrhunderthalle, Frankfurt (GER)NoHere
1970-11-29Cirkus Krone, Munich (GER)NoHere
1970-11-30Unknown Venue, Nuremberg (GER)NoHere
1970-12-01Konzerthaus, Vienna (AUS)YesHere
1970-12-02Sporthalle, Boblingen, Stuttgart (GER)YesHere
1970-12-04Limathaus, Zurich, (SUI)YesHere
1970-12-07Manchester Free Trade Hall, Manchester (UK)NoHere
1970-12-08St. George’s Hall, Bradford (UK)NoHere
1970-12-09Lyceum, London (UK)YesHere
1970-12-12Leeds University, Leeds (UK)NoHere
1970-12-13Kinetic Circus, Birmingham (UK)NoHere

Sources:

  • Edit on 2020-12-14: Removed references to a concert at “Boeblirgen” on December 6, 1970, as this was likely a typo. Removed references to a concert at Royal Festival Hall on October 25, 1970. Fixed the location of Kinetic Circus and removed ambiguities on the location of the December 13, 1970 concert. Removed reference to a December 5, 1970 concert at the “Stadthalle” in Vienna which did not happen. Cleaned up other ambiguities/inaccuracies. Added all dates.

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