Edinburgh, Nov. 1 Show Review
The dust has finally settled after a quick trip down to Edinburgh to see Greg on Tuesday night, and then back to Orkney the next day (about a 300+ mile journey each way for me). But I have to say, IT WAS WORTH IT!!
Let me begin by saying that I'm not a "Lady of the Lake." Emerson's keyboards were what drew me to ELP but I always appreciated Greg's abilities on the bass, and thought his voice was superb and a great addition to everything ELP did. I really wasn't sure whether I'd enjoy this concert very much though, especially after seeing KE with the Nice and his band in 2002 and 2003 many times and thoroughly enjoying those concerts.
But this concert was every bit as good, and in some ways, dare I say it, even surpassed KE's performances. For one thing, his back up band were excellent and although every ELP song made me wish Keith was up there playing with them, I have to say the keyboard player he had was competent and certainly didn't detract from the songs. His young guitarist, whose name escapes me, was outstanding!! I was also amazed at how gracious Greg was at giving this guy solos and leads when clearly he could have played them himself. They seemed to have the same rapport that Keith and Dave Kilminster had, and it was nice to see Greg really enjoying himself with this group of musicians. The drummer was also excellent and over all the band was very tight.
The sound mix was not the best, guitars were too loud and vocals too quiet at times, but it seemed to get better as the night went on or maybe my ears just got used to it. But the lighting and staging were obviously well thought out and very professional, much better than any of KE's concerts and the whole package seemed better put together and produced.
They played good selection of Greg's repertoire but only one song from his solo work, "Love You Too Much". The rest was all ELP or King Crimson. They opened with "Court of the Crimson King" which really created an atmosphere and got the small, but very appreciative audience going. I never thought I would ever hear this song live, and I was blown away by even how much better it is live.
Highlights for me were "Pictures," "Karn Evil 9," "Take a Pebble," Farewell to Arms" and especially "21 Century Schizoid Man." That tune smoked!! The bass and drums were so cranked I could feel my throat and chest vibrating. Again, a song I had never heard live, but was blown away by it. Made me realise again how damn good that original KC line up was!!
The absolute best part of the whole concert though, and this was true for every single song, was Gregs voice! It was the best I've ever heard it, and that includes when I saw them in the 70's and 80's. His age and obviously now healthier lifestyle (he seems to be fitter too) has given his voice even more resonance than when he was younger, and his vocal tone and pitch were exquisite.
I wish he had played some bass, although his bass player was perfectly ok, but just not the same. Especially since he already had a good lead guitar player, it would have been good to see what they could have done with Greg on bass. But these are just minor criticisms. Overall, it was an excellent night, a very enjoyable, tight, well rounded performance.
I also liked the fact that he was willing to do a meet and greet and let the fans know! Very civilised, everyone lined up waiting in the warm dry lobby, knowing he's going to appear, unlike KE's shows where people often waited ages outside in cold for the band to show up and Keith to show and often they didn't.
Unfortunately I was unable to wait myself, having to get up early and drive back to Orkney, and I do appreciate Martin and Mikey getting my program signed for me. I owe you guys a couple of pints next time!!
I guess the ultimate accolade though is that I took my partner Gary with me, who does not like ELP, plays the guitar, and is very picky about his music, and he said at the end of night, "Yeah, that was really pretty good!" If you can possibly see this show, DO IT!! You won't be disappointed!!