LIVE: Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy @ the Cohoes Music Hall, 4/23/18
Review by Mark Alexander Hudson
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Make no mistake, Carl Palmer is a true rock legend. The drummer was a member of both the Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster whilst still in his teens. He was then a crucial third of the progressive rock behemoth Emerson, Lake & Palmer, who virtually defined the genre. And then he was a founder member of a little band called Asia, who you may remember. Yeah, they were vilified by the critics, but they also just happened to have the best-selling album of 1982 with their self-titled debut.
So it hurt my heart to see the sparse attendance last week at the Cohoes Music Hall for this virtuoso percussionist and his incredible band. Prog rock fans, classic rock fans and any would-be drummer in Greater Nippertown – you should have been there to witness a master of his craft, up close, in such an intimate & wonderful venue.
First of all, kudos to Palmer for not going the obvious route. It would have been an easier and surely more commercial proposition for him to put together an ersatz ELP – that is, find a keyboard player capable of
mimicking Emerson, get a Lake sound-alike vocalist and phone in a nostalgia trip.
He did neither.
ELP Legacy is a three-piece guitar-bass-and-drums power trio.
I admit that when I first heard of the concept I had my doubts. But it works. Incredibly. They play the ELP songbook but radically rearranged for the new instrumentation.
Recognizable. Reinvented. Different. Exhilarating.
Palmer, now 68, is as driven and as blazing a drummer as ever. His solo leading out of “Fanfare for the Common Man” was simply fearsome. Coming towards the end of a tw- hour set, it highlighted both his dexterity and
amazing stamina. Contrary to many heritage rock bands’ gentle saunter through their back pages on tour these days, I swear that at times this band exceeded the intensity and velocity of the original versions.
Special mention must be made of his two bandmates. Guitarist Paul Bielatowicz and bass/Chapman stick player Simon Fitzpatrick were stellar throughout, with a wide range of sounds conjured through their instruments via a combination of effects pedals and flatout incredible chops. Both of their solo spots were superb. Fitzpatrick essayed a finger twisting medley of “Take a Pebble,” “Maple Leaf Rag” and “From the Beginning” on the Stick, while Bielatowicz offered up an achingly beautiful version of “Clair de Lune.”
As well as in the name of the tour – dubbed Emerson, Lake & Palmer Lives On – Palmer paid tribute to his late colleagues (Emerson and Lake both passed away in 2016) in a simple and affecting way. When the band played “Lucky Man,” he asked the crowd to take pictures and post their personal thoughts online as a homage.
Palmer is currently writing his autobiography, one which I look forward to immensely. He referenced it during his many conversational monologues & anecdotes between songs. He may be the sole survivor of a legendary band,
but as he proved Monday night, he is not one to rest on his laurels.
CARL PALMER’S ELP LEGACY SET LIST
Karn Evil 9
21st Century Schizoid Man
Carmina Burana (including Blue Rondo)
Fanfare for the Common Man
Timothy Reidy’s photographs of this concert