Tour Guide: Emerson, Lake & Powell Tour

Keith Emerson and Greg Lake only undertook a single tour with drummer Cozy Powell in the wake of the recording of their sole album.

Emerson, Lake & Powell
Promotional image. Retrieved from here.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer had been on hiatus for seven years when Emerson and Lake decided to try again. Carl Palmer was unavailable due to his commitments with Asia, so Emerson and Lake decided that it was time to recruit another drummer. Fortunately for the world, the drummer chosen was Cozy Powell. Besides being among the finest the world has seen, Powell also left a far more complete historical record of this period of ELP’s existence than we usually have access to. His tendency to tape studio sessions has left us with two behind-the-scenes sets. Meanwhile, a short list of comments to a fanzine gives us insight into his thoughts on all but one gig the trio did on their North America tour.

Image result for emerson lake and powell
ELPowell onstage at an unknown date. Retrieved from pinterest

The group also had a few appearances on MTV to promote themselves and their work, including an appearance as veejays. The appearance is available to watch here.

The band’s setlist varied somewhat night to night, always beginning with “The Score” from their newest album as well as a few other new album numbers. The majority of the concert was composed of old ELP favorites, including abridged versions of “Tarkus”, “Pictures at an Exhibition”, “Pirates” in full, “Knife-Edge”, and others. The exact nature of the pieces included sometimes changed from night to night; “Step Aside”, for instance, was only included at the debut show as far as I can find from bootlegs.

Each member received a solo spot, with Keith Emerson bringing in numbers from his solo career rather than reviving old ELP songs; contrast this with Greg Lake, who chose to bring back his old acoustic ballads for his solo spots rather than take separately-written material from his two studio albums from earlier in the decade. Cozy Powell got a customary drum solo in the middle of “Mars, Bringer of War”; associating his solo with a classical piece was a tradition he had begun while still with Rainbow in the mid-70s.

The band began their tour supported by Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, though he was quickly let go. This was apparently due to his refusal to play a gig, though details are sparse about this.

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
1985In-studioYesIn circulation as “Space Gospel”
1985In-studio plus equipment deliveryYesIn circulation as “Back on the Road”
1986Sprocket Studio, London (?)YesTour rehearsals, released officially; may actually have been at the London Hammersmith Odeon
1986-08-15El Paso County Coliseum, El Paso, TXYesHere; May have also been recorded for MTV
1986-08-17Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, OKNoHere
1986-08-19Lakefront Arena, New Orleans, LANoHere
1986-08-20Summit Festival, Houston, TXNoHere
1986-08-21Reunion Arena, Dallas, TXNoHere
1986-08-23Convention Center, San Antonio, TXNoHere
1986-09-01Riverbend Center, Cincinatti, OHNoHere
1986-09-03Massey Hall, Toronto, CanadaYesHere
1986-09-05Forum, MontrealNoHere
1986-09-09Civic Center, Glens Falls, NYYesHere
1986-09-12Mann Center, Philadelphia, PAYesHere
1986-09-13Meadowlands Arena, East Rutherford, NJYesHere
1986-09-15Performing Arts Center, Providence, RINoHere
1986-09-16Greatwoods Center, Mansfield, MAYesHere
1986-09-19Capital Center, Landover, MDNoHere
1986-09-20Madison Square Garden, New York, NYYes + partially filmedHere
1986-09-21Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh, PAYesHere
1986-09-22Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh, PANoHere
1986-09-23Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, OHYesHere
Some time before 1986-09-25MTV appearance as VeejaysYesInformation given conflicts with other reports
1986-09-25Hershey Stadium, Hershey, PANoHere
1986-09-27Coliseum, Hampton, VANoHere
1986-09-28Coliseum, Richmond, VAYesHere
1986-09-30Rupp Arena, Lexington, KYNoHere
1986-10-02Fox Theater, Atlanta, GANoHere
1986-10-04Civic Center, Lakeland, FLYesHere
1986-10-05Knight Center, Miami, FLYesHere
1986-10-12Coliseum, Charlotte, NCNoHere
1986-10-14Opera House, Boston, MAIncompleteHere
1986-10-16Coliseum, Grand Rapids, MNNoHere
1986-10-17Fox Theatre, Detroit, MIYesHere
1986-10-18Market Square Arena, Indianapolis, INNoHere
1986-10-19Rosemont Horizon, Rosemont, ILYesHere
1986-10-21MET Center, St. Paul, MNYes
1986-10-22Mecca Arena, Milwaukee, WIYes
1986-10-23Stephens Auditorium, Ames, IANo
1986-10-26Civic Auditorium, Portland, ORNo
1986-10-27Paramount, Seattle, WANo
1986-10-29Henry J. Kaiser Pavilion, Oakland, CAYes
1986-10-30Greek Theater, Los Angeles, CANo
1986-10-31Pacifica Theater, Costa Mesa, CAYes
1986-11-01Open Air Festival, San Diego, CANo
1986-11-02Arizona State Fair, Phoenix, AZYesThe only concert which Cozy Powell did not comment on.

Many fans remember this tour fondly as a treat for the ears and, thanks to the addition of video and occasional pyrotechnics, the eyes.

ELPowell at the Charlotte Coliseum show on October 12. Photographed by David Barrett; used with permission.

ELPowell may have been entirely too short-lived for fans’ preference, but they sure left an impact while they were here!

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Post Sources

  • Macan, Edward. Endless Enigma: A Musical Biography of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. p 501
  • Edit on 2020-10-20: Fixed photograph link. Updated Glens Falls date. Fixed ‘Richfield Coliseum’ spelling.

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