By CRAIG HAMMONS
Carl Palmer is by far one of the greatest drummers of all time. He ranks right up there with Keith Moon, John Bonham and Terry Bozzio. After nearly four decades behind the kit from the days when he was with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown to Emerson Lake and Palmer he continues to dazzle audiences with his speed and style.
Carl keeps who is touring with Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy the music of Emerson, Lake and Palmer alive in a unique way by not using any keyboards. He has by his side the technical and musically wizardry of his two bandmates Paul Bielatowicz (guitars) and Simon Fitzpatrick (bass and Chapman Stick). The way the songs are arranged, you’re not missing the sound of keyboards as they’re recreated note for note on the guitars. The new format is not easy but it did give new life and excitement to ELP’s recordings.
Carl Palmer Fans: Prog Rockers, Drummers and Hippies
The place was packed with prog rockers, drummers, hippies and longtime fans of ELP. The stage was set with Carl’s enormous drum set, up front and center. As the house lights dimmed three shadows emerged from the darkness to take their spot-on stage. They opened with “Abaddon’s Bolero” and keep the stage completely dark until they launched into “Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2,” then all the lights came on.
We were all blown away by the wall of sound these three impeccable musicians were putting out. After the first song I had to pick myself off the floor as they got in the first punch and knocked me out. Carl came out from behind his kit and welcomed everyone to the show tonight before announcing the next song “Tank.” Carl just turned 68 a day before and still has the power and punch of a heavy weight prize fighter. He pounded the skins so hard on “Knife Edge” I could feel every beat.
They then slowed things down a bit and did the complete version of “Trilogy.” Which then was followed by spotlighting bassist Simon Fitzpatrick on the Chapman Stick soloing on an instrumental medley of “Take a Pebble / Maple Leaf Rag / From the Beginning.” He was all alone playing all the parts (rhythm and lead) but created such a full sound it was mesmerizing.
Carl came back out and chatted with the audience about the good old days with his old bandmates Keith Emerson and Greg Lake. He then said they were going to do a song Greg wrote, and went into a killer version of “21st Century Schizoid Man,” which brought the house to a standing ovation at the end. Next, the extraordinary Paul Bielatowicz did a beautiful guitar solo on Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” His fingers flowed across the frets like electronic raindrops.
After a rousing version of “Hoedown,” Carl said the next song was a blessing for them as it was embraced by their American audience and helped them gain acceptance on these shores. That song is “Lucky Man.” It was a beautiful version with Simon playing the vocal parts note for note on the Chapman Stick.
Wrapping up with “Fanfare for the Common Man,” Carl broke out into an extended drum solo that showed that this man is a powerhouse and is still kicking ass. He played with so much complexity and energy it brought the audience to their feet to cheer on one of the best drummers that the world has ever had the opportunity to witness.
I was astonished and blown away by the mind-blowing musicianship on stage tonight. Carl stood up and wiped the sweat off his face, smiled out at the audience and said this last number is for Keith and wrapped the night up with a rocking version of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker”.
After almost two hours on stage the band came back out to greet their fans and sign anything that was put out in front of them. The music of Emerson, Lake and Palmer lives on through Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy and it still turns me on.
“You got to see the show, it’s dynamo, you got to see the show, it’s rock and roll.”
Video courtesy of Gene Zalar: