For those of you unfamiliar with The Nice I've added links to some sound files from the official albums below.
Since the Keith Emerson promotional show at the 100 Club (review + pictures here) in April where Lee Jackson and Brian Davison joined Keith for three numbers rumours have abounded that a Nice tour would follow. Those rumours were confirmed (initially on this very site - fuller details on the original version of this page) in early August when a four day UK tour was announced for early October 2002. London was the first show that tickets became available for with the others going on sale a week later on 12 August:
The NICE :
Although the shows were billed on the ticket as Keith Emerson and the Nice there was a little more to it than that as you will find out if you follow the review links.
In addition to Keith, Lee and Brian a guitarist in the form of Dave Kilminster (of Qango, John Wetton Band and Ken Hensley Band) replaced original guitarist Davy O'List (and Dave K's stand in at the 100 Club Phil Hilborne). For the first hour and a quarter of the shows The Nice revisted their most famous tracks before departing the stage to allow Keith to play a few tracks from his solo album 'Emerson Plays Emerson' on a grand piano wheeled on specially. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening for many was when instead of the Nice returning Phil Williams (bass) and Pete Riley (drums) appeared for something a little more recent.
It was in fact Dave Kilminster that inspired Keith to add guitar to the couple of ELP tracks included at this point in the set after watching him with Qango at the London Astoria in 2000. After playing the complete (apart from vocals - Dave Kilminster sang only one section of the track) but rearranged Tarkus Lee and Brian returned foir the set finale, Fanfare for the Common Man. The two hour show was completed with a lone encore of Honky Tonk Train Blues.
Reviews of the shows show the band gelling more as the tour progressed with London being the best of the bunch. Initial plans were made to video that show for possible release. Unfortunately this idea was dropped but most or all shows were audio recorded and there is a good chance that they will be released.
Having talked to Lee before the London show it seems that plans are afoot for further dates next year with Japan the UK and Europe mentioned but far from confirmed.
almost perfect timing a book on the Nice, "Hang on to a Dream",
by Martyn Hanson was available at the London show from Martin. The
official launch (review) is on 19
October 2002 at Helter Skelter Bookshop (4 Denmark Street, London
WC2H 8LL, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 207-836 1151 ) (www.skelter.demon.co.uk
) when Brian and Lee will be present with Martyn to sign copies.
Below is the promotional text I was sent on 20 Aug 2002:
Before Emerson, Lake and Palmer, were The Nice.
Keith Emerson, Davy O’List, Lee Jackson and Brian Davison formed a group to back soul singer PP Arnold, then riding high in the charts with “The First Cut is The Deepest.” Before long they had outgrown their place in the shadows and quickly built a reputation as one of the most exciting live bands. The Nice were one of the first groups to combine rock with classical elements, while Emerson’s habit of hammering knives into his Hammond Organ, jumping on it and even whipping it, kept audiences mesmerised.
Their debut LP, The Thoughts of Emerlist DavJack, mixed rock with jazz and classical music, but it was The Nice’s hard rock demolition of Bernstein’s “America” that took them into the charts while Emerson’s habit of setting fire to the stars and stripes during the song as a protest against the US ensured a media outcry. Along the way the band had memorable encounters with Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Yes, The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, Salvador Dali and many others. They also made some truly enduring records.
Recently reformed for a series of live dates, it is time to credit The Nice with their role as a key pioneering act in the evolution of progressive rock. Drawing on years of research and hours of first hand interviews with band members and associates, Martyn Hanson sets the record straight on The Nice’s short but hugely influential career.
“Much of what Emerson later achieved with the huge success of Emerson, Lake and Palmer should be credited to the brief but valuable career of The Nice.”
Encyclopedia of 60s Music:
clips via the Amazon
Nice page and the Absolutely
the Best compilation CD