Monday, April 12, 2010

Live at Manticore Hall

Sunday night's show at the Lynn Memorial Auditorium was billed as "An Intimate Evening with Keith Emerson & Greg Lake," but when the band was introduced prior to taking the stage, the public address announcer's greeting was "Welcome to Manticore Hall." This, of course, was in reference to Emerson, Lake & Palmer's fascination with the mythical creature that has the body of a lion, the head of a man, the tail of a scorpion, and a trumpet-like voice.

This was one of those shows that I decided was worth attending alone, which was necessitated by the fact that very few of my friends share my admiration of the English progressive rock supergroup. When I took my seat at the venue, next to me was another solo concertgoer. A few years older than I, he shared with me that he and his wife have much different taste in music, using Mariah Carey as an example of where her interests lie. I told him that, while my wife and I share much more musical taste in common, this was one band I never really attempted to turn her on to. He seemed to agree with my somewhat stereotypical claim that those of the female persuasion generally don't appreciate prog rock. This generalization was not reinforced by an event that occurred later in the evening, but I'll get to that soon enough.

Just as I predicted in a conversation with KJ prior to the show, the 65 and 62-year old rockers played two sets separated by a short intermission. Highlights of the first set included a rendition of King Crimson's "I Talk to the Wind," a song Lake admitted he hadn't played since 1969; and a medley that began with ELP's "Take a Pebble" then transitioned to excerpts from "Tarkus," which included a fine display of Emerson's still impressive keyboard chops.

Both Emerson and Lake let the on-stage banter flow freely, and the second set included several such highlights. The first was a story told by Emerson about meeting one of his idols, Leonard Bernstein, and Bernstein's somewhat sarcastic and arrogant dismissal of the music of The Nice and ELP.

What was even more interesting was when they initiated a Q&A session with audience members. I wanted to ask why they didn't hire Ian Paice as their touring drummer, but I didn't get the chance. One of those chosen was a 14-year old girl who called ELP her favorite band. I found this quite interesting, of course, and then I tried to imagine my 14-year old niece's reaction if I played her Brain Salad Surgery in its entirety.

Personally, I love when performers are adept at successfully interspersing a few stories into their set. Emerson and Lake may have overdone this a little, but it never detracted from the music, which certainly did not disappoint. Even the somewhat bizarre fact that they used a drum machine during the Tarkus medley didn't really bother me.

The final highlight of the night was their encore performance of "Lucky Man." I'm not sure what I was more surprised about: the fact that they ended a show of mostly deeper cuts with their most commercially successful song, or that I enjoyed hearing it as much as I did. While it was Keith Emerson's playing that shone the brightest for most of the night, it was during this song that I realized just how lucky we fans are that Greg Lake's vocal ability has held up so well over time.


  1. John Panozzo?! Is that some kind of sick joke?

    word verification: unglim

  2. I didn't know John Panozzo was dead. Ian Paice would have been a better idea.

  3. Ah, another male who somehow thinks females aren't/weren't into Prog. I'm a female who always loved Prog. I adored ELP in the 70s, and I still do. I've also long been a big fan of the Nice. I, and a female friend, also a Nice and ELP fan, have tickets for the Glenside show. I flew to Philly to see it, it was canceled, and I have shelled out for another plane ticket for the reschedule. I also sprung for the platinum VIP ticket. I think that's pretty solidly beyond "like". My husband, on the other hand, who used to be into the Nice and ELP, decided he wasn't interested in going.

  4. Well sleeveless, part of my reason for even writing that was to "out" myself for over-generalizing, especially after the 14-year old girl called ELP her favorite band. While the majority of the crowd was male, there was definitely a strong female presence.

    Lee, thanks for pointing out my error. To prevent my mention of John Panozzo from seeming like a sick joke, I've changed it to Ian Paice, which is still in the spirit of the joke I meant to make.

  5. Charles, I didn't mean my post to sound snarky towards you, and I'm glad you saw the light, so to speak, at the show, and posted about it. It's just that us female Prog fans run into this all the time. Guys seem to think we're an anomaly,and/or assume that any women at a prog show are there because a husband or boyfriend twisted their arm. I have no doubt that sometimes is the case, but isn't it for any genre (except teeny bopper girl fare)? You might have heard by now about the infamous 'piano girl' at the Nokia Theater show. Amusing, perhaps, but she obviously was there as a big, long-standing fan.

  6. Sorry to hear you had to pay for two flights to see one show, sleeveless. I'm pretty confident you'll enjoy the rescheduled show.

  7. Hey! I'm so glad you went to see them!