Greg sat down and started a question and answer session. A lot of hands went up and the guys with the mikes (Andre and The Dude) ran around the orchestra. Standard questions and statements..."What happened to the Angel Pendant?" "How did you play 'The Sage' and can you tell me the chord progression?" One woman complained that we weren't all up and screaming. Some were ticked they didn't get to ask their questions but there was a time limit. I think it could've been a whole show by itself.
Then Greg went into his Jimi Hendrix experience. Starting with the well-known trivia that ELP were almost HELP. And he told us about the first time he saw Hendrix play, when Greg was still with The Gods, "A baaad band." as he said. Hendrix was playing after them at a gig. Greg was expecting a soul, sax-playing band, because that's what black dudes were playing then. And here he saw big stacks of speakers with an amp on top, and out comes Jimi Hendrix. The crowd booed him for tuning up in front of them. Jimi tore into "Foxy Lady." The band watched, stunned, as a sort of shockwave went thru the audience and Greg said he thought, "This changes the game." When Hendrix threw his guitar down, Greg said, "That was the worst thing. That sounded better than I was playing." His band went home in the van in silence. Greg looked grim. The audience laughed. He then played Jimi's "Bold as Love." Which was truly great. I wonder if that'll be on the new album.
Next, Greg began talking about Paris, which he loves and has lived in. That he loves Edith Piaf (who doesn't- only about 4 people made a noise, though). And that a French singer named Johnny Hallyday had a hit with "C'est La Vie", which is unusual- an Englishman writes a song that translates to French and becomes a hit there. Of course, he then sang "C'est La Vie." In mostly English. ;) And beautifully.
The "Lucky Man" story is one that every ELP fan knows. When they were recording their first album they needed one last song to make the time on the record that the contract required. Greg offered up a song he wrote when he was 12. Which was "Lucky Man." Here's a clip about the recent Quebec shows:
"Lucky Man" became ELP's first big hit. And it was a big hit with our audience, too.
But the biggest surprise was when Greg put the guitars down and sat at a keyboard. I'd never in all these years seen him play keyboard until this tour. Sweet and low-key, he played and sang "People Get Ready (there's a train comin')". You coulda heard a pin drop in the house. And after, while everyone was standing and applauding, he said "Thank you very much. Goodnight," and walked offstage. Of course we weren't having it. A couple of minutes of whoops and whistles, solid applause. Would he do an encore? I was just about to start yelling "Encore!" When he reappeared.
And the sound system blared the first keys of "Karn Evil 9." Holy crap, the place roared (to me, the best sight in it was Strider standing up whooping here). His voice is absolutely perfect for this song now. Deep, growly bits that he couldn't do when he was young and had a higher, tenor range. Now he really sounds like a jaded carnie.
Then he left the stage, to much noise. The house lights came up.
Part 3 in a little bit. Sorry, but it's Monday and there's business to take care of already.