Review of 'High Voltage': Emerson, Lake & Palmer's electrifying live final farewell

'High Voltage' was Emerson, Lake & Palmer's final farewell performance.
ELP Live In London
ELP Live In London / David Tan/Shinko Music/GettyImages

Okay, by now the jig is up: I have been gradually reviewing albums associated with the term "high voltage" — from two diffrerent AC/DC albums to a jazz album, and now the prog album by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. So, what do I think of it? I actually like it pretty well.

High Voltage is indeed a live album by the progressive rock supergroup Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP), released in 2010. The album captures the band's performance at the High Voltage Festival in Victoria Park, London, on July 25, 2010 (an event promoted as "custom built by rock fans, for rock fans"). This performance was part of a reunion tour for the band, marking their first concert together in over a decade and celebrating their 40th anniversary.

The album features many of ELP's classic tracks, showcasing their virtuosic musicianship, complex compositions, and yes, even some catchy tunes.
The setlist includes songs like:

"Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression – Part 2"

"The Barbarian"

"Bitches Crystal"

"From the Beginning"

"Touch and Go"

"Take a Pebble"

"Tarkus (suite)"

"Pictures at an Exhibition Medley"

"Fanfare for the Common Man/Drum Solo/Rondo"

"Lucky Man"


Keith Emerson
Music File Photos - The 1970s - by Chris Walter / Chris Walter/GettyImages

The performance was notable for its nostalgic value, bringing together Keith Emerson (keyboards), Greg Lake (bass, guitar, vocals), and Carl Palmer (drums) for what would be their final onstage performance together. The band delivered a powerful and dynamic show, staying true to the technical and artistic integrity of their original recordings while bringing the energy of a live performance. Though not as slick as the studio recordings, the live recording still adequately captures the essence of ELP's music, with high-quality production that highlights the individual talents of the band members.

For prog fans, and "classic rock" fans generally, this album/video gives a splid idea of what Keith Emerson's keyboard work, Greg Lake's vocals and bass/guitar playing, and Carl Palmer's drumming are all about. Yes, there is flashy playing, but ELP are also known for catchy, likeable tracks like "Lucky Man." The album serves as a testament to ELP's legacy in the world of progressive rock.

Though a person might wince at prog rock bands for featuring the word "suite" in some titles, let's not forget David Bowie did such things, too, and he;s typically not lumped in with prog (though he did have his proggier moments, and so do some punk bands...but maybe I digress).

The bottom line

High Voltage is significant not only for its live renditions of classic tracks but also as a celebration of the band's history and their contributions to music history. Fans and critics alike appreciated the album for its nostalgic value and the band's ability to perform complex pieces with precision and passion, even decades after their initial success.

High Voltage captures a memorable moment in ELP's history, providing a fitting tribute to the band's impressive career and their influence on progressive rock music. It's easy to be bittersweet about a band dying out, and progressive rock is often an acquired taste. Still, something like this is a valuable way for someone to acquire that particular taste. Honestly, again: I personally have a difficult time trying to hate "Lucky Man." I just think it's a good song, and it's one of the first songs in popular music to contain a Moog synth solo.