Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy
Rhythm Of Light Tour 2014

November 22, 2014
Havana
New Hope, PA

Review by Ralph Greco, Jr.
Photos by Carla Huntington

Carl Palmer, arguably the loudest third of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, recently rumbled through Havana in New Hope. The drummer and his band brought their ELP Legacy: Rhythm Of Light Tour 2014 to town for nearly two hours of progressive instrumental bliss.

The musicians flanking Palmer this night were equal to the task of creating a very tight progressively laced unit. Guitarist Paul Bielatowicz and bassist Simon Fitzpatrick joined Palmer in recreating ELP classics, infusing their own unique stylings into the music.

The selections for the night were startling, even for an old ELP sawhorse like myself. An opening video of strafing aircraft set the stage for the one-two punch of Richard Wagner’s “The Ride Of The Valkyries,” and ELP’s “Karn Evil 9.” In between songs, Palmer regaled the crowd with stories from back in the day, while video footage provided complimentary cool visuals and archival footage.

There was nary a slowing down of speed or dexterity from one of the best rock and roll drummers alive. Palmer’s double bass drum mastery is second to none — his snare hits and leaps across the toms are as quick and hard-hitting as ever.

The band’s take on ELP’s “Trilogy” was a big surprise with Bielatowicz’s speed around those Emerson runs and Fitzpatrick hammering away carrying the song to new heights. Versions of “Mars The Bringer Of War” (a movement from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” that Keith Emerson and Greg Lake recorded with Cozy Powell in the late 80s) and King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” (which Lake originally sang) were loads of fun and wonderfully loud. “Jerusalem,” the William Blake-Hubert Parry hymn adapted by ELP, was also included. Bielatowicz played a stunning solo piece called “Claire de Lune” and Fitzpatrick offered up a unique bass solo of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven.”

I loved the story Palmer told about ELP being visited by the publisher for composer Leoš Janáček, who wrote the piece “Sinfonietta,” whose first movement was the basis of ELP’s “Knife Edge.” Palmer said Keith Emerson was the only one who knew who Janáček was and artfully dashed out of the room.

Palmer also recalled how he was, for a brief and shining moment, a member of Fleetwood Mac when he was called in to sub for Mick Fleetwood when the band played a college in the U.K. As it so happens, it was at this gig that Palmer met Emerson, whose band the Nice was on the same bill. The music and the stories cemented how the very affable Palmer was playing and having a grand old time during this tour.

The highlight of the night was hearing all of “Tarkus,” with Fitzpatrick swinging through “Stones Of Years” with video showing not just those familiar cartoon images from the album’s gatefold sleeve, but new filmed segments and animated collages that gave the story even more meaning.

Promoting the Decade DVD, featuring a performance from the Carl Palmer Band’s 2011 tour, the reissued 2001 anthology, Do Ya Wanna Play, Carl?, and the drummer’s fine art collection The Rhythm Of Light, Carl Palmer is as creative (and busy) as ever. Tonight, he showed off his unparalleled chops with two brilliant musicians and a solid stage show. A feast for ELP fans, prog rock followers and lovers of great musicianship, when Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy: Rhythm Of Light Tour 2014 comes to your town, you've got to see the show...it's a dynamo.

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