Drummer extraordinaire Carl Palmer has never shied away from his roots in Emerson, Lake & Palmer (even as he continues switching between Asia and solo life), though after the sudden passing of keyboard player Keith Emerson earlier this year, it was a given that the group’s music should earn extra emphasis on his current tour. In fact, had it not been for that tragic turn of events, Emerson was slated to join Palmer on this very same outing saluting ELP’s enormous progressive/symphonic/art rock outpouring, which wound up wrapping the final night of Progtoberfest II (sturdily assembled by organizer/promoter Kevin Pollack) at Reggies Chicago.
Though everyone got the chance to show off their playing chops at one point in the evening, the legendary beat keeper especially wowed attendees with his technical wizardry, all but erasing the years since the band’s heyday, while firmly establishing his current status amongst the world’s most elite drummers.
But rather than taking a somber tone at the fact his longtime partner was no longer able to participate, Palmer’s ever-evolving ELP Legacy adapted a celebratory attitude towards the band’s expansive body of work as the leader told stories of tribute and pummeled away behind a monstrous kit (flanked by much younger guitarist Paul Bielatowicz and bassist Simon Fitzpatrick). Despite their physical generation gap, all three musicians were locked on the same musical page for no less than two hours that wound between a vastly assorted canon of ELP originals and covers.
“The Barbarian” served as one of the trio’s earliest examples of interpreting a classical selection with a rock arrangement, while “America” (via Emerson’s previous group The Nice) did the same to a Broadway tune and “Jerusalem” for an old time spiritual. There was also the group’s brooding remake of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” (a nod to singer/bassist Greg Lake’s early involvement in that now legendary experimental act), and later, the fellow classical adaptation “Nutrocker” (initially tackled many decades before Trans-Siberian Orchestra).
In between, Palmer and company delivered several other ELP standards (“Knife-Edge,” “Hoedown,” “Pictures At An Exhibition”), which may have missed the original players and their unmistakable contributions, but were nonetheless presented with a fresh and muscular approach. Though everyone got the chance to show off their playing chops at one point in the evening, the legendary beat keeper especially wowed attendees with his technical wizardry, all but erasing the years since the band’s heyday, while firmly establishing his current status as one of the world’s most elite drummers.
Click here for more Carl Palmer photos from Progtoberfest II at Reggies Chicago.
For additional information on Carl Palmer, visit CarlPalmer.com.
For a list of upcoming shows at Reggies Chicago, visit ReggiesLive.com.