What can I say but CARL PALMER IS THE MAN! I still haven’t come down from watching his power-trio band take me to new and insane musical heights, leaving myself and the entire theatre with our jaws in our laps and our minds soaring.
This power-trio consists of Carl Palmer on drums, Paul Bielatowicz on guitar, and Simon Fitzpatrick on bass. They were all simply out of this world and, yes, yours truly had the great honor to work as their monitor engineer at the Petaluma Mystic Theatre.
Watching Carl during sound check was a real treat… to see a master craftsman set up and design his tone. First he went through his entire stick bag to test the tonality of each stick for consistency of tone and quality. Then to watch him tune each drum head, and not just bang on each corner and make a few turns with the drum key but to go through each hit with different dynamics to get the right tone for attack, punch, and bottom end creating a nice round sound. Not only does Carl Palmer sound check his kit, he then sits out in the middle of the theatre and has the bass player and guitar player indivdually go through each of their amp channels of clean and distortion, and all the floor effects dialing in their levels and effect modulations.
Carl’s ear is so good he could be the next greatest sound engineer. He even knew which frequency that he prefers to have notched out of his kick drum for his monitor feed. I mean, I never get drummers knowing engineering terms, it’s usually “My monitor is making a ringing sound can you make it go away?” I would then go to the channel with the particular drum with the “ringing” and remove the frequency that is causing the feedback. Carl knew the frequency just like a piano player would know not only the note but also its frequency of a single key that was struck on a piano. He probably learned it from Emerson while working with him all those years!
The entire band was insanely remarkable and each player’s solo performance was like no other… with Paul and his lightning fast sweep picking, chord tapping, up and down the guitar neck leads that just had folks staring so hard you swore their eyes were going to pop out. Then Simon and his ever-so clever remix of Queens ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ finger tapping and slap bass thrown in here and there for the heavier parts was amazing to watch. Seeing one person play that song and all instrumental and vocal parts simultaneously on one instrument, I guess if you are going to play with Carl Palmer, you better know how to play better than the rest to keep up with this living legend. It was all an awe inspiring performance that I was not only glad to watch but also to help be apart of the making.