Greg Lake 4/22/12 NYCB Theater at Westbury Review

By Brett W. Millering

Having been a fan of Emerson, Lake & Palmer since 1970 I was looking forward to the Greg Lake show with much anticipation. That said, it exceeded all of my expectations! You could tell it would be a special evening as soon as the lighting dimmed & the "Moonchild" improv ushered in this great show!

Let me preface this by saying this didn't follow the usual concert format. Greg had set up an intimate concert forum complete with a storytelling narrative basically expounding upon his musical career in chronological form. This live concept also included audience participation in a very revealing question & answer session in which fans were asked to share stories of their own.

It was such a pleasure to hear this legendary musician go back to his early years with anecdotes on who influenced him as well as how King Crimson & ELP were formed. He also gave a detailed explanation on why Trilogy was such a difficult album to reproduce live.

The most entertaining part of the evening belonged to the Q & A session. There were three stories worth relating here: The first had to do with a fan who asked how "Father Christmas" came about. Greg's response was to say how when you're young Christmas has a different meaning. Those years are very innocent & when you become older you see how commercialism has taken over from the holiday spirit. Thus the negative connotation of the song.

The second story shared was from a Russian fan. He had a copy of Trilogy & said he was a citizen of the U.S. for 16 years now. He went on to say that his father hated any rock albums he played until he heard him play Trilogy one day. His father said, "Here you are playing crap all this time & you finally play something that makes sense"! (spoken with Russian accent). This brought laughter to the attendees at Westbury. He then went on to say he had written ELP a letter a long time ago but thought it was now deposited in the KGB files. This brought more subdued laughter & Greg acknowledged they never received it & he was probably certain of it. Greg followed this up with a story about a fan from a former eastern bloc country that ELP were playing in on tour back in the 90s. Apparently this fan was crying in the front row in front of Greg while they performed "Pictures". After the show Greg had the fan brought backstage & asked him about this(crying). He told Greg, "You don't understand, when I was younger I went to jail for 6 months for having a copy of "Pictures" in my possession." There was such a hushed silence from the crowd you could hear a pin drop. Greg went on to say that we don't know how good we have it until we hear stories such as this.

The third story was very poignant or touching. A fan brought his wife to the show for her birthday. He told of attending an ELP show & catching the tambourine when Keith threw it out towards the crowd after the "Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2" intro. He managed to come up with three rings after wrestling a few other fans for it. He went on to add that at the next ELP show he attended he caught one of Carl's drumsticks. He then made a request of Greg, "To complete the trilogy(not sure if a pun was intended but these are his exact words)could my wife have one of your guitar picks for her birthday"? Greg then beckoned them up to the stage, handed her a pick & kissed her on the cheek. It showed what a true gentleman Greg is & you actually felt as if you were invited into his home for the evening!

These stories & the narrative were worth the price of admission alone! Of course, the music was excellent as well. Greg's voice has aged but as a fine wine. I thoroughly enjoyed the song versions presented tonight & don't feel any of their integrity was compromised by the use of backing tapes. The meet & greet also showed how gracious Greg Lake is. He signed a few items for me & my girlfriend even asking who to make the first one out to(King Crimson CD). We had photos taken with him & I must say this was the most professional M & G I've ever attended!

I'd like to close by saying I left the show feeling as if I had been visiting with an old friend. Then again, for all intents & purposes, he's been an old friend through his music & also along with the great memories from over the years. This will surely count as one of my more memorable nights!!

<< Back to Reviews