Keith Emerson was my favorite keyboardist of all time, and sadly, he died yesterday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. So, I figured it was appropriate to write about one of the times I saw him perform.
I was never fortunate enough to see Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but this show was pretty close. For the tour, Cozy Powell replaced Carl Palmer on drums. Powell is no slouch on the drum kit, and he was probably the best person to fill in.
The concert was nothing short of spectacular. The set included a nice mix of pieces spanning ELP’s career. Some of the high points were “Pirates,” “Pictures at an Exhibition,” and “Fanfare for the Common Man.” But the pinnacle of the show for me was the encore, which included “Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression Part 2.”
“Karn Evil 9” is from the Brain Salad Surgery album, which is one of my all-time favorite album. Throughout the years, I’ve owned multiple vinyl copies, CD, cassette, and have even owned it on 8-track. It is just a phenomenal album. So how can I convey what it was like to see Keith Emerson perform this?
The band rocked through “Karn Evil 9,” and then Emerson went into a wild solo on the keyboards. He was like a madman! He was soloing, and then turned around and continued playing backwards, not missing a beat. He then extracted a pair of daggers from his belt and stabbed them into the keys, holding and sustaining notes while playing over the sustained notes. Then he hoisted the keyboard onto his back and began running around the stage playing the keys backwards and over his shoulder. I was floored! I had never seen anything like it, and I have never seen anything like it since. It was almost beyond belief.
Keith Emerson will be sorely missed. He was a virtuoso musician who pushed the boundaries of rock music. Here is a video of him performing. Be inspired!