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progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

concert review

Carl Palmer - Barcelona - 30 Nov - 2002

I must admit that I attended this concert not knowing exactly what I was going to see or listen.

My only reference (and I think the only for the rest of attendants, about 300) was, obviously, Carl Palmer and his extensive career with EL&P, Asia, Atomic Rooster... as a drum virtuoso.

I knew nothing about his two partners, the also over-the-top performers Shaun Baxter (guitars) and the young Dave Marks (6 string bass). Palmer, "doing his thing", with a small kit (for his standards), with which he demonstrated that talent is basically on the player, not on the instrument.

About the set-list, obviously, it was a compendium of the best E,L&P, completed with a track from Shaun Baxter's Jazz Metal record, and a solo from each performer, Baxter's being melodic and atmospheric (relaxing from his guitar fireworks), and Marks' hypertechnical and eclectic (between his rhythmical showcases we heard "From The Beginning" and "C'est La Vie"... even "Stairway to Heaven" and "Message in a Bottle"! This was out of place, I think).

We'll talk about Palmer's later.

Sound was excellent, despite everything sounded too loud (at least for a small venue like Luz de Gas), allowing you to listen every detail from these three exhibitionists, who offered, in a pseudo-heavy metal key (Palmer has declared in some interviews his interest in Dream Theater, and it shows), fast-paced and up tempo versions of such classics like "Hoedown", "The Barbarian", "Toccata" (Palmer's favorite, and one of the highlights of the night), "Tarkus" (abridged), less popular tracks like "Bullfrog", “Canario” or "The Enemy God Dances with the Black Spirits", from the "Works" period, and marathons like "Fanfare for the Common Man", twenty minutes of instrumental delirium (they even played “Carmina Burana”) crowned with, of course, a simply unbelievable solo from Palmer.

Fortunately, I watched that from second row, and that's a great show.

He still has a pair of prodigious wrists, to what he's added a tremendous double bass control that completes his astounding technique and power. It may sound strange to listen such a set-list without Keith Emerson's magic, but the versions stand with fidelity and, at the same time, they sound fresh and powerful.

Maybe for purists this is a sacrilege, but you can't deny that Palmer is in top form (I'd say that he plays better than 30 years ago), and he's in his own right to enjoy such a rich legacy.

Palmer talked to the crowd in a decent spanish, and made continuous jokes and ironic comments about the past and the trio that made him famous (his irreverent comment about "Love Beach" was memorable, specially the one about its painful cover, showing three "faggots" in his own words).

I think nobody was deceived with the show, maybe a succedaneums, but a hell of entertaining.

Héctor Gómez - November 2002


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