Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy The Bull Run Restaurant, Shirley, MA May 26th, 2017 Story, photos, and video by Kelly D To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at [email protected] Check out more of Kelly D’s photography at her art page Vital Visions: Art by Kelly D. When one of your favorite drummers of all time is playing a unique venue not too far from home, what do you do? You snag a ticket and get your world rocked, that’s what. Carl Palmer and his band played classic prog rock tunes to a packed house at the Bull Run in Shirley, MA on Friday, May 26th. I must admit, walking up to the restaurant, that I didn’t know what to expect. A venerable institution, the restaurant-cum-concert hall has been around since the 18th century. At first glance of the building, one wouldn’t necessarily predict to see a prog rock legend’s name (eponymously of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer) on its marquee, but here we are. It was the best kind of cognitive dissonance to have Palmer come to such a place and have some fun with his fans. The musicianship was incredible. I had a seat directly next to stage left so I had a sightline of bassist/Chapman Stick-ist Simon Fitzpatrick’s and Palmer’s profiles. Unfortunately I couldn’t see guitarist Paul Bielatowicz that well, but I managed to get a few photos of him from the back of the room. I had seen this show before last year on my birthday in Ridgefield, CT so I knew I was in for a treat. The show was a mix of humor, showmanship, and memorial: Keith Emerson and Greg Lake both passed away last year and the lead singer/bassist of Palmer’s other band Asia, John Wetton, succumbed to cancer in early 2017. It seems like it’s been Palmer’s duty to keep their spirits alive through the gift of music and he’s done a fabulous job paying his respects to his friends and bandmates while still blowing his fans’ minds with his insane drumming. https://youtu.be/s-ckg5corx8 After getting comfortable and situated in my side-stage seat, I caught a glimpse of the band ascending the adjacent staircase to my table to walk through the crowd and take their positions. The lack of security guards and a “front row” barrier between the audience and stage was intensely refreshing. The huge amount of tables in the banquet area, jam-packed with fans, added to the intimate experience. Playing on two screens on both sides of the stage, a montage of amusing ELP references from The Simpsons to Jeopardy! began the concert. I noted that this trope is exactly what “Weird” Al Yankovic has done in recent years’ tours. As progressive rock is an acquired taste for many, it makes this prog fan’s heart sing when someone in “the mainstream” sneaks in a reference to a wider audience. As the screens faded to the stylized iconic “ELP” logo, it was time for the music to explode. The setlist was largely Emerson, Lake, and Palmer tunes from their catalog in the 1970s, in instrumental versions. As I’m definitely one who pays attention to lyrics perhaps more so than music, it is refreshing to hear the instruments do the “singing.” One of the highlights for me was “Trilogy” which then segued into a tribute to Keith Emerson’s first band, a cover of the Nice’s “America.” But it wasn’t just ELP songs – a thundering rendition of Greg Lake’s first band King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” shook the walls of the Bull Run. The trio injected new life into other fan favorites like “Karn Evil 9,” “Take a Pebble,” and “Jerusalem” with raw energy and pure talent. Though he’s 67 years old, Palmer beat on his drum set with a vigor more often seen in 20-somethings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oA95sm9bFxw I am most definitely one to seize the day, so if you have a chance to see Carl Palmer and his merry bandmates Paul and Simon live in concert, I wholeheartedly suggest you do so immediately. Theirs is a chemistry not often found in rock music these days and none of us are getting any younger. If you can see one of the best living drummers in the world in a town near you, you should- you’ll be glad you did.
“Ooh, what a lucky man he was. . .”
To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at [email protected] Check out more of Kelly D’s photography at her art page Vital Visions: Art by Kelly D.