Pretty heavy going for a casual audience

The name Keith Emerson is writ large in the history of progressive rock.

His 70s band Emerson, Lake and Palmer sit as one of the cornerstones of the movement and works like Brain Salad Surgery and Pictures at an Exhibition remain undisputed classics to this day.

Moscow is a two-disc live recording of Emerson’s solo band taken from a show in 2008. While the set unsuprisingly focuses on highlights from both versions of ELP, it also features other material, including the very beautiful “Miles Away” and also “Marche Train”, co-written with guitarist and singer Marc Bonilla from the self-titled album they were promoting at the time. Moscow is a showcase for Emerson’s grand, showy and always engaging mix of bombast and elegance as the band works through sections of “Karn Evil” and an extended version of “Piano Concerto (3rd Movement)” and also highlights his songcraft with selections like “Touch and Go”. The performance is staggeringly faultless and Bonilla’s shiny, somewhat homogenised production gives it the feel of a studio album, however, somewhat detracting from the concert experience a “live” album should create

The highlight of the album of course is the 35-minute version of “Tarkus” which sprawls across the second disc, bracketed by Bartók’s “The Barbarian” and a rock version of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” . While some may not appreciate an already long song being made even longer, given the context of the song’s theme and its popularity among Russian audiences it would be hard to imagine a more fitting climax to this performance.

For completists and diehards, this will of course be an essential purchase. It’s also a decent place for the curious listener to discover a cross-section of Emerson’s work without having to delve into the formidable collection of compilations and box sets he’s amassed. A more casual audience is likely to find Moscow pretty heavy going however, but that’s something that could be said for anything Keith’s ever done.

CD 1:
1. Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression)
2. Piano Concerto (3rd Movement)
3. Bitches Crystal
4. Malambo
5. Touch and Go
6. Lucky Man
7. Miles Away Pt 1.
8. Miles Away Pt. 2
9. Crusader’s Cross
10. Fugue
11. Marche Train
12. Finale

CD 2:
1. The Barbarian
2. Tarkus
3. Nutrocker Suite