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Carl Palmer at DTE, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmusic.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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If anybody’s going to have a band called ELP Legacy, it’s Carl Palmer.

The drummer is the last surviving member of the prop rock powerhouse Emerson, Lake & Palmer and has taken on that mantle, supervising reissues of the group’s albums and also touring with ELP Legacy, a trio that uses guitar, bass and Chapman Stick rather than the late Keith Emerson’s keyboards as dominant instruments. It’s his way of paying tribute but still finding a way to put a fresh spin on iconic material that dates back to the 70s.

Palmer also maintains membership in another rock supergroup, Asia, but his dedication to ELP, and its legacy, is his preeminent concern...

• Palmer, 67, says by phone from Baltimore that losing Emerson and Greg Lake last year “makes it more important for me to carry on this legacy. I went on to have a great life and career with Asia and a No. 1 single and album at the same time, so to come back to this (ELP) music that really brought them into America and really is the essence for me to be, honestly, I’m very proud. I’m very happy, obviously, that I’m still here. I’m in no rush to meet the other two again for a long time.”

Related: Todd Rundgren at DTE, 5 Things To Know

• For Palmer, however, it’s imperative that his ELP Legacy do more than just slavishly cover his old group’s material. “There’s no way I wanted to copy ELP,” he explains. “The music is so adaptable, and the music is still incredibly fresh, playing it the way I do, without keyboards. It’s presenting it another way, just showing you the versatility of that music. The music that ELP wrote is still incredibly important to me, and more poignant than ever. So it’s’ just not worth copying what ELP did; I had to present it in a new way, because that’s really what it’s all about. That’s how strong and vibrant the music is.”

• Palmer’s latest tour with ELP Legacy is as part of Yestival, which rekindles a long relationship he has with tour headliner Yes. “The first five concerts that Yes performed (in the U.S.) we actually brought them over as friends,” Palmer recalls, “and they played with us and played their first concerts in America supporting Emerson, Lake & Palmer. If we could help another prog rock band, we had no problem doing that. We weren’t stuffy at all in that way; If there was a band that was playing it well we admired that, and if we could help we would, and we did. I think the rivalry came from them later on, but ELP really didn’t bother with that. We knew we were great, if you know what I mean.”

Related: Yes celebrates prog rock with Yestival touring package

• Palmer was on the road with Asia earlier this year, replacing singer-bassist John Wetton, who passed away on Jan. 31, with Yes’ Billy Sherwood. Palmer says the tour -- opening for Journey -- was “phenomenal,” but Asia’s future is on hold for the moment. “There’s nothing planned right now,” Palmer says. “I’m not saying it’s not going to happen. It’s a bit soon. There are no plans to carry on as we speak; That’s not to say it won’t happen, we just haven’t had time to talk about it and how we’ll do it.”

• As for Journey’s much-publicized infighting via social media recently, Palmer says no animosity between the band members was visible during the tour. “It was not evident at all,” he notes. “They were incredibly professional...probably the most professional band I’ve ever toured with. They -- by ‘they’ I mean Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon -- would pass each other in the corridor they would fist bump each other, so you couldn’t see any of that (animosity) at all. That was all going on in social media but it was not going on stage and it was not going on in the corridors. I don’t think it’s ever a wise thing to wash your laundry in public, but that’s their prerogative. If that’s what they wish to do and what they think is right, then that’s up to them. All I can tell you is they were utmost in their professionalism every which way, and I was just absolutely knocked out.”

If You Go:

• Yestival featuring Yes, Todd Rundgren and Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy

• 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17.

• DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.

• Tickets are $29.50-$99.50 pavilion, $25 lawn with a $75 lawn four-pack.

• Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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