Thursday, 22 November 2012

Greg Lake–20th November 2012 Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

To say I was looking forward to this concert would have been a big understatement. It was one of the first of my 40th birthday gifts to be bought and one of the last I got to experience. (Thank you Stephen!)
The evening began with a quick blast of Kanye West’s track Power which features a sample of King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man. This obviously led into it being the opening song from Mr Lake himself.

1353614150960This show was very much a solo performance with Greg playing along with a pre-recorded backing track. It’s impossible to recreate these songs alone on stage so this was a reasonable solution which also allowed the concert to retain a very intimate feeling.
Stories were shared about each song including a fabulous tale of seeing Elvis in the 70s which led into an  impassioned rendition of Heartbreak Hotel.
For me the highlight of the first half was a rather lovely version of the King Crimson track I Talk To The Wind which was then followed by a singalong version of The Beatles’ Hide Your Love Away that took us to the break.
1353614483471Part two brought us a couple of ELP classics including Still You Turn Me On which I’m more than a little partial too, before Greg took on the Q&A portion of the evening. I don’t think any of the questions stumped him very much and all led to great tales about various aspects of his career. In the middle of this bit we got an acoustic rendition of I Believe In Father Christmas. I’m a sucker for a good Christmas tune and this is one of my favourites.
1353614690834Other highlights of the second half included the sublime C’est La Vie and the inevitable, but still fab, Lucky Man before Greg took to the keyboard to close the main part of the show with a cover of People Get Ready.
The encore made full use of the haze and onstage lightning rig with we were treated to Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2 to end the evening on a fairly triumphant high for the audience before we all disappeared out into the night for our various transport home.

Click here for flickr set of photos from the evening.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Michael Nesmith–29th October 2012- Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester.


It’s taken me a while to pen this review. I think I wanted to continue to just revel in the moment and not get too over analytical about it. After all I never thought I’d ever get to see a Nez solo show, let alone one in my home town.

So right now the concert is, in my mind, in a weird place in time. I know it was only just under two weeks ago, but it’s already hurtling far into the past as I try to hang on to it all in my memory.

1AP1080640Before I list my own personal highlights I feel compelled to comment on the amount of technology on the stage. It was interesting to see computers and ipads in use in a concert context.  I was intrigued as to what was sampled, pre-recorded and played there and then. I know there was a few people who have found this not to their taste but I have to say that I didn’t really mind at all. Maybe it is because I am used to electronic sounds, loops, samples and keyboards that sound like lush strings or stinging brass rather than just plinking out a tune. I will concede that the percussion track occasionally felt intrusive but only occasionally, and I was putting that down to the fact that I was on the front row and that’s not exactly the best position for sound at concerts. Other than that the stage sound was really well mixed and produced.

Something that did strike me with all the tech on stage was that the musicians all had proper music stands with proper paper sheet music on it, which added to the feeling that was an evolution in performance methods rather than a revolution.

1AIMG_1212On the way back from the gig I posted to facebook that “He had me at Propinquity.” This wasn’t strictly true, but it sounded good and I like the word Propinquity. He had me from the opening number. Papa Gene’s Blues was a regular tune on the playlists I would create to accompany the editing and printing processes of my now defunct 60s fanzine, Brand X.  It was one of a brace of Monkees tunes we got that night, the other being Tapioca Tundra.

I said I’d list my personal highlights didn’t I? I don’t think I can. It was all a highlight! I liked the idea that we were given a scenario to envision as each of the songs were played. I had avoided looking at set lists for the pervious two gigs but could work out what song we were about to get from these little scene setters in most cases.

It was lovely to be reacquainted with songs I hadn’t heard for a long time, such as Casablanca Moonlight and the trio of songs selected from The Prison, as well as getting to hear familiars friends like Grand Ennui, Tomorrow and Me and Laugh Kills Lonesome.


The encore of Thanx For The Ride included a sample of the late Red Rhodes on the Hawaiian pedal steel guitar, which was a rather nice touch.

As with any concert by an artist with an extensive back catalogue there’s a plethora of tunes that could have been on the set list, but the selection we got was more than satisfying, besides there are a few tunes that would have simply reduced me to a small emotional mess – *cough* Wax Minute *cough*

Songs on video playlist – Tomorrow & Me, Different Drum, Tapioca Tundra, Cruisin’ and Three Songs from The Prison.
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