If you recall Greg Lake's 2013 Songs of Lifetime, also a live recording, then Keith Emerson & Greg Lake's Live From Manticore Hall will be familiar territory. With this live recording, Emerson and Lake, also using interesting and sometimes humorous introductions, invite the listener into their lives and songs.
Excepting King Crimson's I Talk to the Wind, which Lake says, in the introduction, that he's been performing since 1969, all the songs here are from the ELP catalog. (See track listing at the right.) Curiously absent from the performance is anything from the hugely popular Brain Salad Surgery. I would have preferred something from this rather than the inclusion of Pirates from Works Volume 1. But no matter, the live performances within are quite entertaining and simply sound terrific. Emerson and Lake mention some improvisation, but there's nothing so crazy that it takes away from a song.
While it's sometimes difficult to distinguish who's speaking from the audio recording, some of the best parts of the album is the before song banter. One is Keith Emerson saying how he was in a band called The Nice, and he didn't particularly like the name. It seems that people would ask if he's in a band, and he would say, 'Yes. The Nice.' Where upon the person who reply 'The Nice What.' British humor. Greg Lake explains the origins of Take A Pebble, coming from an early morning walk with his dog and tossing stone into the waters before him. Lake also tells the familiar story of how Lucky Man went from a melody and simple lyrics to the final song on their debut album. Then the two play what they call a 'retrospective' version of the song, complete with Emerson's improvisation on the original Moog. Quite nice. Ultimately, with both Emerson and Lake, the songs, and the intimacy by which they present them, Live From Manticore Hall is definitely a delight. The only thing that would have made this better would have been if it had been packaged with a DVD of the show as well. Recommended.
As an aside and an interesting curiosity: While the title is Live From Manticore Hall, which I'm guessing is somewhere in England, inside the credits state that this was recorded at Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield CT in 2010.) Hmmm. Maybe it's simply a play on their record label name.
With both Emerson and Lake, the songs, and the intimacy by which they present them, Live From Manticore Hall is definitely a delight.
From The Beginning
I Talk To The Wind
Take A Pebble
C’est Le Vie
Moog Solo/Lucky Man
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