CARL PALMER’S ELP LEGACY

Prog - - Take A Bow - DAVE LING

Fol­low­ing the deaths of Keith Emer­son and Greg Lake in 2016, Carl Palmer sought to con­tinue per­form­ing Emer­son Lake & Palmer mu­sic, but as he re­vealed in a re­cent in­ter­view: “Hir­ing a Keith clone or even a vo­cal­ist re­ally didn’t ap­peal, so

I went for some­thing niche – a prog rock in­stru­men­tal metal group. Com­pared to South Amer­ica and Italy, Eng­land doesn’t re­ally get it yet, but I’m try­ing to take ELP’s mu­sic to the next gen­er­a­tion. You’ll ei­ther like it or you won’t, but I love it.”

The Prog God drum­mer’s coun­ter­parts in ELP Legacy are Paul Biela­tow­icz, an ex­tra­or­di­nary gui­tarist who recre­ates – or more ac­cu­rately ‘reimag­ines’ – Emer­son’s key­board parts, and Si­mon Fitz­patrick, a skilled ex­po­nent of the six-string bass and Chap­man Stick.

Palmer isn’t kid­ding about the heavy foun­da­tions of the trio’s sound. The set’s cen­tre­piece of Tarkus has five min­utes trimmed from its orig­i­nal du­ra­tion, yet it re­tains the song’s best-loved themes. At its most en­er­getic ex­tremes, it’s trans­formed into some­thing that re­sem­bles a speed metal work­out.

While the setlist is pleas­ingly fa­mil­iar, the same can­not al­ways be said for ELP Legacy’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the songs, though that isn’t to say they’re treated dis­re­spect­fully. Who needs a juke­box, right? A lot of noodling goes on, and to his credit, Palmer of­ten takes a back seat in or­der to al­low Biela­tow­icz and Fitz­patrick to shine.

To­gether, their re­con­struc­tion of the in­tro­duc­tion to Tril­ogy draws warm ap­plause, and Fitz­patrick uses his stick to turn From The Be­gin­ning in­side out, to joy­ous ef­fect.

Hear­ing these songs stripped of vo­cals can be un­usual, and it’s hard not to bel­low out:

‘See the show-w-w-w!’ dur­ing Karn Evil 9 – 1st Im­pres­sion, Part 2, though the au­di­ence are re­spect­ful enough to re­frain.

The show’s undis­puted star, Palmer talks warmly and hon­estly in be­tween the tunes.

His anec­dote about Lake run­ning down the fire es­cape when a man in a suit vis­ited the band’s of­fice to com­plain about the ‘bor­row­ing’ from clas­si­cal com­poser Leoš Janácˇek in Knife-Edge is hi­lar­i­ous. It’s no se­cret that ELP weren’t friends away from the stage, and we laugh when Palmer re­marks: “The band didn’t break up – we just stopped work­ing to­gether and, er… talk­ing!” though that doesn’t stop him adding: “I still miss Keith and Greg madly.”

Even at 68, Palmer’s pas­sion re­mains ob­vi­ous. His dra­matic, cym­bal-tap­ping, gong-bash­ing solo dur­ing an en­core of Nutrocker leaves the crowd spell­bound.

As the drum­mer has al­ready stated, his cur­rent ac­tiv­i­ties are unashamedly niche. Don’t scoff, but in their own crazy way, they could be re­garded as be­ing just as chal­leng­ing and out-there as those of yesteryear from Emer­son Lake & Palmer. Isn’t that the whole point?

“IN THEIR OWN

CRAZY WAY, THEY COULD BE RE­GARDED AS BE­ING JUST AS CHAL­LENG­ING AND OUT‑THERE

AS ELP.”

CON­TIN­U­ING ELP’S LEGACY: PALMER MARCHES ON TO HIS OWN BEAT.

GUI­TARIST PAULBIELA­TOW­ICZ.

PROG GOD: CARL PALMER.

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