Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy:
Pictures At An Exhibition
A Tribute To Keith Emerson

November 12, 2016
Havana
New Hope, PA

Review by Ralph Greco, Jr.
Carl Palmer Photos by Mary Ann Burns

Drummer Carl Palmer blew through New Hope with his stellar band for a two-hour, heart-stopping tribute to his former band mate from Emerson, Lake & Palmer — keyboard master Keith Emerson. As Palmer said at the beginning of the show, he and Emerson, who passed away on March 11, 2016, were actually planning to tour this very show, right down to the same set list. And what a set list it was!

Starting with Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn,” which ELP so famously adapted and performed live in the late 70s, and into “Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression, Part 2,” the blistering trio comprising Palmer, Paul Bielatowicz on guitar and Simon Fitzpatrick on bass and Chapman Stick, were off to the races.

Old ELP chestnuts like, “The Barbarian,” “Jerusalem” (one of two tunes of the night I didn’t think quite came off),“Knife Edge,” and a spirited “Hoedown” were countered by Palmer’s take on Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “Carmina Burana: O Fortuna,” both of which were adapted by ELP in the 90s.

One of the best moments of the night was Simon Fitzpatrick’s Chapman Stick solo, where he double-handed a perfect instrumental of “Take a Pebble.” Emerson would have loved it. The last song of the regular set was a brilliant, super-fast read of Mussorgky’s “Pictures At An Exhibition,” yet another classical piece ELP refreshed in the 70s.

As great a guitarist that Paul Bielatowicz is, sometimes the guitar doesn’t make up for the keys on every ELP track. As for Palmer, he had a whale of a time, especially when he soloed — smiling wide, bouncing sticks off his cymbals, delivering gunshot-loud heavy hits on his snare, all those tricks that make him the legend that he is.

The encore of “Fanfare For The Common Man” was, like “Jerusalem,” somewhat lackluster, but fortunately the whole evening ended with a rousing “Nutrocker.” With the dream of another Emerson, Lake & Palmer reunion gone, at least fans can enjoy the music, celebrate the genius of Keith Emerson, and see Carl Palmer and his band bring that same brazen and incalculable spirit to the playing of the progressive rock bands of the 70s.

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