The flux capacitor is good to go and the Delorean car charged up as we head back to the heyday of 70’s prog rock excesses to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ELP. I could pretty much refer you all to my previous blog from 2018 – ELP Legacy at the Bridge – as I’m never going to be so eloquent plus the majority of what I said then still stands.
The band remains the same – Paul Bielatowicz (guitar, vocals) and Simon Fitzpatrick (bass and Chapman stick) – absolutely top musicians reinterpreting ELP material (plus the odd bit of classical music and a dash of King Crimson) without the keyboards. Carl is now 72 but that matters not – he still plays like a demon and managed an 8 minute 30 second drum solo during ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ – follow the link further down to watch all 13 mins of it on my YouTube site!
‘Peter Gunn’ opens the set in thundering fashion before my favourite ‘Karn Evil 9’ barnstorms into life. Reminds me of DJ Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman on radio 1 Saturday slot in the 70s as this was his signature intro. Pure pleasure.
Carl steps up from the smallish drum set regularly to introduce songs and banter with the audience. He still looks fit as a fiddle, as he says “you can see this body is built for speed and not comfort”. He even does the vocals for a cockney (for the non UK audience that’s a London dialect) version of ‘Benny the Bouncer’. ‘Knife Edge’, ‘Trilogy’ and ‘Ces’t la Vie’ are excellent. The predominantly male over 50 crowd are soaking it all up and letting the music just flow through them, occasionally eyes closed absorbing the melody. Carl, Paul and Simon are virtuoso musicians and I just love the way Paul plays every note with his mouth – he is so into the music and continuously smiling like “fuck I’ve got the best job in the world” – totally infectious spectacle.
Set list (click on links to view the videos)
- Peter Gunn
- Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2
- Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
- C’est la vie
- Benny the Bouncer
- Clair de Lune
- 21st Century Schizoid Man
- Lucky Man
- Fanfare for the Common Man
- O Fortuna
The ELP classics keep on coming ‘Lucky Man’, ‘Tarkus’ plus King Crimson’s ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ which Greg Lake made Carl and Keith learn back in the day “we had to learn it, he already knew how to play it😊” says Carl with a wry smile.
Fanfare pretty much topped the night off – Carl going mad on the drum kit and obligatory gongs, with only 1 small mistake almost losing a drum stick – but hey it’s live and we are all human.
So how to sum up?
And I also managed to get a signed copy of the Tarkus LP. I’m so happy, it’s proudly on my wall now next to my signed Tarkus drum skin!
The 229 in London is far removed in size from ELPs heyday but I get the feeling that Carl is just happy to play to any size audience and I’m more that happy to see them in a small venue where you can get up close to the band and simply enjoy the ambience.
Can’t wait for the next tour chaps.
Marko – 30 April 2022