Greg Lake

April 2 & 20, 2012
Gibson’s Hit Factory & Tarrytown Music Box Theatre
New York City & Tarrytown, NY

Review by Ralph Greco, Jr.
Photos by Peter M. Parrella and Mary Ann Burns

Like most of you, when I attend shows by my favorite artists, I go in knowing that I will never hear all the songs I want to hear, fully aware of the obscure tunage I’d demand of these bands or soloist if I had my druthers. Such is the case with Greg Lake and the oeuvre he represents, both with his solo work and the wealth of material he gave us with Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

But on April 2, I happened to catch the three-song press kick-off in New York City for Greg Lake’s 2012 Songs Of A Lifetime tour, and I was not disappointed in the least. Lake entertained a select group of us at the Gibson Hit Factory, an informal setting where he showcased a new Greg Lake Signature J-200 acoustic guitar made for him by Gibson.

He sat, played and sang “Lucky Man,” “I Talk To The Wind” and “From The Beginning” right there in the main room of a recording studio. I especially enjoyed the extra acoustic noodlings you wouldn’t hear so well when ELP was thundering their way through epics — mellow as they can be.

The real treat though was the gab session that followed — something he would be doing a bit of during the upcoming tour — regaling the audience with story and song, while welcoming a lively interaction with his fans. That night, Lake promised lots of surprises on the tour, and after catching him three weeks later at the Tarrytown Music Box Theatre, I was happy to find that ELP’s middle man was doing his best to keep that promise and not disappoint.

Playing bass, electric guitar and acoustic, Lake entertained the crowd with tunes that span his entire career — songs he wrote and recorded as well as covers that influenced him. To give you the full list would spoil the show, but suffice it to say I was tickled, even from the second song in (one I had never heard performed live and most wanted to hear).

The first half of the set saw Lake mining King Crimson (“21st Century Schizoid Man,” for example), ELP (how about “Lend Your Love To Me Tonight” from Works?) and even Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” after telling a great story about seeing the King back in 1971.

This set the stage for the second set, where we were treated to his startling solo acoustic slice of “Trilogy.” This wowed us all and was, quite frankly, the kind of thing I would have liked to hear more of.

What followed is what makes this Songs Of A Lifetime tour truly unique — Lake had the house lights turned up so he could take questions and comments from the audience. Totally relaxed in this setting, Lake recounted stories off the top of his head, fielding whatever came his way with good humor and humility. I could have taken two hours of this alone. With his autobiography Lucky Man about to be released, I guess he has been revisiting lots of these memories of late.

After the Q&A portion of the evening ended, we got more tunes. Lake took a turn at the keyboard to close the show with Curtis Mayfield’s classic “People Get Ready.” The encore was “Karn Evil 9,” arguably the most well-known ELP epic of all time.

Two hours of quality entertainment, Lake’s candid and relaxed Q&A, a crowd totally into every breath and a set list like this – I can’t complain, though I would have liked maybe one or two songs from Lake’s solo releases in lieu of a cover.

Songs Of A Lifetime is an excellent show, especially if you are an ELP, King Crimson or prog rock fan. Then again, if you’re just somebody who loves classic rock and a performer interacting perfectly with an audience, you owe yourself a ticket to, in the words of Greg Lake:“See the show…”

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