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Carl Palmer Band, House of Blues, July

We saw the Carl Palmer Band at the House of Blues in town last month.

When we got to the venue (it's inside the Mandalay Bay casino) we found that they'd closed down the balcony due to lack of ticket sales, and we'd have to sit down in the floor seating area. Kind of sad about the ticket sales, but we still found good seats and the rest of the seats did slowly fill up. For a while I thought it was going to look embarrassingly sparsely populated. I think they grab people off the casino floor and "comp" them in if it looks too bad.

We sat and listened to the entirety of the "Pictures at an Exhibition" album piped in over the PA while we waited for the show to start. I was a little nervous... there was NO WAY the CP band could live up to the energy of that album, seems to me setting up your audience for a disappointment.

Eventually the house lights dimmed, and the offstage announcer did his thing, the curtains opened, and YIKES they are flippin' loud. Arghhh. Break out the earplugs. This is painful.

Sound mix not so good, even with the 'plugs. Bass tends to be muddy. Drums are coming through loud and clear though. What are they playing? _The_Barbarian_? Cool!

OK, so we have Carl Palmer (performing on a stool) like a machine, he's got a cut-down kit with him - just one gong. Seems to be able to get the right sounds out of it, though.

He's ably backed up by a Stuart Clayton on six-string bass, competent skill set there! Some tasty licks coming out of that side of the stage.

Oh, and there was some dick on a guitar as well. I'm not going to look up his name. I'm sorry but he really sucked. I may be an Emerson fan, and I may prefer to see the music performed on keyboards, and I give kudos points to Carl for going out on a limb and trying something new. But in my opinion, it mostly didn't work. And the places where it didn't work were usually the fault of the guitarist.

What did work:

_Canario_ from *cough*Love Beach*cough*. This was originally a guitar piece before Emerson got his hands on it and I think it shows, because this was actually very good.

_Tocatta_ from Brain Salad Surgery. This was also very good. Maybe because it is almost totally percussion and electric guitar in the first place?

I liked the rendition of Tarkus only in that the bass player tapped out the bass line with both hands, like I used to do on the Stick. heh. Only way to do it properly, in my opinion.

Stuart's bass solo was very pleasant, quoting from two other talented bass players: a rendition of Sting's "Shape of my heart" for solo bass which worked very well, and a slapping good time a'la Mark King.

Carl Palmer's drum solo in the middle of Fanfare was excellent. Completely different from his usual thing, I was happy to hear. Lot's of quiet, tricky percussion things, including bouncing one drumstick back and forth on a cymbal by hitting it with the other drumstick. (It was an intimate venue, so that sort of thing worked.)

What didn't work:

The dick's guitar solo. He is has no soul. And mediocre talent.

I thought _Hoedown_ would work in his favor, but noooo. Even *I* can sustain a note and lean on the wah-wah pedal and pull faces and go wowowow with my mouth. You know what? I don't.

_Trilogy_. What a mess. Points for trying though.
_Enemy God_. Ugh.
_Romeo and Juliet_. Make it stop.

And now I'm trying to remember what else they played and I'm drawing a blank! _Tank_ I think, _LA_Nights_, and _Bullfrog_, and something that Carl called "a Jazz number" but played at 200bpm and 120 db so I couldn't be sure of that.

Carl kept coming out from behind his kit and talking to the audience between numbers which was nice if a little rehearsed and unnatural in places. At one point near the end he said how he'd be "back with the band in September" and I yelled out, "Bring Emerson with you" which got some laughs. (I'm surprised anyone could still hear.)

Actually I think he will be back with the ASIA re-union rather than the CP Band but that's ok by me, I'm looking forward to it.

There are some pictures from the Vegas date here:
http://www.carlpalmer.com/NATour02.html.
None of the audience, though, maybe that's just as well considering how few of us there were!

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