June 16, 2016 Carl Palmer Awe-inspiring At The Boulton Center Bay Shore, NY 6-10-16
Carl Palmer is undoubtedly one of Rock-n-Roll’s greatest drummers. Known best for his work with Classic Rock trio Emerson, Lake and Palmer, as well as Progressive Rock band Asia, he is truly a drummer’s drummer. That is not to say that only percussionists can appreciate him. In fact, Palmer’s music speaks to millions of listeners while his infectious stage personality manages to draw them in even deeper. Having such a grand history, filled with tons of accolades, Palmer continues to dazzle fans all these years later, and in March, it was announced that Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy would partaking in their ninth North American tour.
Scheduled to kick off June 2nd, the run was originally going to be a celebration of Palmer’s fiftieth year in music, however, after the tragic death of Keith Emerson, it would be named in Emerson’s honor. Renamed the 2016 Remembering Keith And The Music of Emerson Lake & Palmer Tour, on Friday, June 10th, Palmer’s trio came to the YMCA Boulton Center For The Performing Arts in Bay Shore, New York. Walking up to the beautifully restored theater, the marquee lit in red, as it told the story of Palmer’s popularity, it read “Sold Out.” A quaint enviroment within the walls of The Boulton Center, once inside, fans were immediately engaged as Palmer’s drum kit was brightly lit and placed on the center of the stage.
As everyone took their seats, the show began with the house lights dimming and a large video screen behind the drum kit displaying a memoriam for the late, great Keith Emerson. Soon after that was a movie of a rocket ship launching, and within minutes, out walked Palmer, accompanied by Guitarist Paul Bielatowicz and Bassist Simon Fitzpatrick. With the audience cheering madly, Palmer smiled and waved to them before sitting down at his kit and ripped right into “Peter Gunn Theme.” Once the song was over, Palmer stepped out from the drum set to a microphone to greet the audience before he introduced Bielatowicz and Fitzpatrick. Making it an intimate setting, Palmer was in no rush and spoke a little about the next song they would play as he concluded with “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.” Clearly in very high spirits, he returned to his drum set as wowed the room with “Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression” from 1973’s Brain Salad Surgery.
Coming to speak to the audience again, Palmer expressed how good it was to see everyone before conveying how deeply saddening the loss of Keith Emerson is to him. With a heavy-heart, Palmer stated, “He was going to join us on a couple of dates on this tour, but sadly the tragedy struck.” A feeling of heartbreak was felt among the sold out room, but thankfully the music was a form of healing as the band went into “The Barbarian” from Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s 1970 self-titled album. As everyone jammed away in their seats, every once in a while someone was enticed to let go and blast out some beats on the air drums. Before the next song, Palmer spoke again, and this time introduced the use of the instrument the Chapman Stick; a two-handed fretboard tapping instrument that would be played by Fitzpatrick on the next few songs. As they played “Bitches Crystal,” from 1971’s Tarkus, Palmer was now glistening in sweat as he vigorously performed at a high level.
Continuing to converse, Palmer spoke about how the next selection had been banned on the radio in the United Kingdom for being too long of a song to be aired. He went on to say, “That is why English bands came to America, because in the USA, music is an art form.” An interesting piece of history to offer, they would go on to play the full version of that track, “Jerusalem.” Going on to speak of ELP’s second to last album, 1992’s Black Moon, Palmer introduced the song “Romeo and Juliet.” Offering more compelling insight into his work, he spoke about a song suggestion by Greg Lake, one they decided to do a cover of, and that was King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.” Segueing into the track, Palmer’s shirt was now completely drenched in sweat as he pounded away on the drums. Once it was over, the audience could no longer sit back just watching, they rose to their feet and cheered wildly. Overwhelming, Palmer stood and bowed as he kindly gestured towards Bielatowicz and Fitzpatrick, as they were deserving of the accolades as well.
Not going to the microphone this time, Palmer yelled out, “Put your hands together for Paul Bielatowicz!” As just a spotlight was shown on Bielatowicz, Fitzpatrick left the stage. With only the light from the video screen, which continued to play various scenes accompanying each song, Palmer would remain on stage as he sat quietly, almost becoming a member of the audience as Bielatowicz played this incredibly beautiful guitar solo. More of a song within itself, he showed his impeccable guitar skills as he spoke to the audience with his instrument. Then, after several minutes, Fitzpatrick returned to the stage and Palmer spun his seat, facing the audience again, as the trio kicked in to the high-energy “Knife-Edge,” from ELP’s self-titled album.
Playing another upbeat favorite, they did “Hoedown,” from 1972’s Trilogy. Afterwards, Palmer surprisingly said they were just getting warmed up before talking about how the next song was a favorite of ELP’s. That song was “Take A Pebble,” another from their self-titled album. Midway through the rendition, Bielatowicz put his guitar down and left the stage while Palmer took another moment to chill with his fans. As the crowd wondered what was coming next, Fitzpatrick ripped into a deep and heavy bass solo, during which he tripped the sound of a babbling brook with his foot pedal while the accompanying video showed river and waterfall scenes. Adding to the excitement, Palmer joined in the solo by encouraging the audience to clap a beat to Fitzpatrick’s solo. Soon after, Bielatowicz returned on stage to assist in finishing out the song before they move on into “Carminia Burana.”
Keeping everyone completely enchanted with a mix of dialogue and music, Palmer went on to say how important their next song was to him and his career. With that, he made the dedication to Emerson as they played “Pictures At An Exhibition.” Accompanied by more video, scenes of a young Palmer and Emerson playing on stage together were displayed. Striking a sea of emotion from the audience, once the song concluded there was not a seat left occupied as everyone stood in Emerson’s honor. Gracious, Palmer said, “Thank you, you are fantastic! It has been a great pleasure. We will finish up with a piece I think you will all know.” Wondering what it could be, the sound of horns started to play and the trio took over for “Fanfare For The Common Man.” Indeed a track everyone knew, no show would be complete without Palmer’s exhilarating drum solo, and he was not about to disappoint. Midway through, Bielatowicz and Fitzpatrick quietly put their instruments down, departing from the stage as Palmer lifted off into a full, ten minutes drum clinic, displaying skill, stamina, trickery, and awesome power. As the solo started to come down in tempo, Bielatowicz and Fitzpatrick returned to complete the song for a massive standing ovation. Humbled by the response, Palmer was all smiles as he spoke one last time about ELP and his relationship with Emerson.
Palmer, smiling ear to ear, dedicated their final song to him as he confessed, “I do not usually do this, but how about you all take your cameras out and post your pictures for Keith.” Willingly doing so, photos of the show began being uploaded as the finale of “Nutrocker” was played by the band. Fittingly, it was accompanied by a heart-warming tribute to Emerson’s life, making it truly a touching way to end the evening.
The moment Carl Palmer stepped foot on the stage of The Boulton Center, he captivated the audience for a full two hours. His sheer precision and command of his instrument had fans in awe. Meanwhile, the combination of two brilliant musicians, Bielatowicz and Fitzpatrick, the songs were played so meticulously that the fact there were no vocals did not seem to matter. The current tour continues in The United States till July 12th, and one show is scheduled in Germany on July 17th, with possibly more dates to follow. With that said, this non-stop and energy-packed show is a must see.