MoogFest Moog Clinic with Keith Emerson & Bob Moog, Manny's Music, New York City, May 17, 2004
The Keith Emerson Band, B.B. Kings, May 21, 2004
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: June 2004
Event/Show #1: This was more what I'd call the "pre-Moogfest", although they (as in KE and BM) tagged it "Moogfest!" I went to this event at Mannys Music, and waiting on line there was a bit nostalgic as well as emotional for me. I say nostalgic, because Mannys (and 48th st. music stores in general) have been a part of my life since around 1971 - about the time that "Tarkus" was made. I say emotional, because Keith Emerson and ELP's music (as well as the early King Crimson) I've been into since day one and I, along with the rest of us who were waiting to finally enter into Mannys for this event were all anticipating... and I hadn't actually seen Mr. Emerson since 1974 at Madison Square Garden! By the time we were admitted in, there were grey seats setup for those of us who got there early, and there was standing room otherwise (luckily I got one of the grey seats along with a keyboardist friend of mine, Sheldon). It was none other than Bob Moog who mainly had some interesting first words about how Keith and he had met as well as how the Moog Synth originally came about. When it was Keith's turn to speak, he was a little shy at first (as well as had a good sense of humor about things I felt) and spoke of how he first found out about the Moog Synth (i.e. partially through seeing the Walter Carlos "Switched on Bach" record cover and being intrigued there) and also managed to "bring home" a similar large Moog S. that to my memory, was investigated first through Bob Moog and Keith explained that for a while he just looked at it at home - fascinated & intrigued, often saying to himself: "what is this??" along with some fellow musician friends of his at the time. As time went on, he explained that he went through the learning process with all those wires and knobs... and so history was made inbetween his involvement with the Nice and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Performing (though minimal for that event) was still memorable with Keith playing on the latest Moog Synth (again, created by Bob Moog) and he started off with some piano improv that led to segments of some ELP things and he actually had a guitarist (who I think worked at Mannys) join him for a rendition of "Lucky Man". That was alright, although for my tastes, the best part of Keith's performance was his solo stuff he did on the Moog. Afterwards, autographs were being signed and the latest "Keyboard Player" Magazine was on hand for us audience members. The real "clincher" that evening for me was chatting with Keith slightly and him accepting my APF CD with open arms! - he also seemed to be very sincere that he'd "take a listen". As you could imagine, that made my evening! And perhaps hearing from Keith Emerson sometime down the road, would be a dream come true for me in terms of possibly working with him on something musical together... (hey, you never know -;)
Show #2 at B.B. Kings: This was held the following Friday and was all sold out, so I was glad that I was able to attend (again, with my pal Sheldon). And even with getting there at least an hour early, there was "standing room only". Luckily, we weren't "packed like sardines" in the club, though standing all that time was somewhat uncomfortable (especially since the show started a little late). But was it worth it?... absolutely!! "The Keith Emerson Band" as they were tagged, started the show with a great rendition of "America" and then went on to perform some interesting material from the days of "the Nice" (including "Hang on to a Dream", "Country Pie", as well as some of the more familiar classical numbers like I believe the Karelia Suite and some of the "heavy horn" classical pieces the Nice used to do). On to the ELP stuff... as you could imagine, this was the highlight musically for most of us there in that he not only now did an "electric version" of Lucky Man (as opposed to the Mannys performance) but also did a stiring rendition of "Bitches Crystal" with the guitarist singing as well as had a separate bassist onstage. For my tastes the band had their moments, but KE was by far the highlight musically. The drummer did a reasonable solo and the guitarist also sung a solo piece of his own on the acoustic guitar. Where the guitarist shined I felt was doing some harmony lead guitar work on a very fast paced version of "Hoedown"along with Emerson. The biggest highlight musically for me (and I'm guessing most folks there) was them doing... Tarkus! - not just in part, but in full(!)... And as well as sticking largely to the album parts, the band did some interesting new arranging with some strong "stops" and lead guitar work in some of the Greg Lake vocal areas (who I missed by the way as I've always felt that Greg Lake was a big part of the "ELP spirit" of course). But the band played on... and did more than a good job considering the loss of GL and CP... There was a beautiful improv-like piece that Keith did on the Moog Synth (set to an acoustic piano sound) and the last number was an interesting version of "Honky Tonk Train Blues" which started off very slowly and ended up fast with the rest of the band. Indeed, a historical show!!... I think if I'm ever lucky enough to play onstage with Keith Emerson and did Tarkus, I'd just ask him to emulate "exactly" those last notes that he so finely executes from the studio album - as he changed them slightly for this concert - those last notes along with what I'd consider to be "just the right amount of reverb" on them, are the peak of what I'd consider "progrock" to be at its finest!!.... amazing!
Reviewed by Joshua Charles
(Josh doesn't normally do reviews, but since the music of Emerson, Lake & Palmer has always been close to his heart, this one seemed to make its way to my desk just at the right time.)
Visit Josh's web site and experience his music at: http:/www.cdbaby.com/joshuac.