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