The concert featured in this newly released film took place in the year after what looks to be the final appearance of Emerson Lake and Palmer. Still, it’s clear that Carl Palmer had much more to add, as Decade — over the course of 12 tracks captured live on October 16, 2011 — reexamines, reshapes and ultimately reenergizes the ELP catalog.
Inventively paired, once more, with guitarist Paul Bielatowicz (rather than a replacement keyboardist for Keith Emerson) and focusing exclusively on instrumental pieces, Palmer’s ELP Legacy had already been together for 10 years at this point, and their crunchy telepathy is part of what brings these often well-worn songs — and Decade — to life.
The goal isn’t simply to offer renditions of Emerson Lake and Palmer favorites like “Karn Evil 9: Second Impression,” “Howdown,” “Abadon’s Bolero,” “Tarkus,” “Pictures at an Exhibition,” “Fanfare for the Common Man” and “Nutrocker” so much as full-scale, blitzkrieg demolitions of them. Together with bassist Simon Fitzpatrick, ELP Legacy takes a serrated edge to these sacred cows — and then dives headlong into more uncharted waters with intriguing updates of deep cuts like “Barbarian” from ELP’s self-titled 1970 debut and “Bitches Crystal” from 1972’s Tarkus. They do an admirable job of scuffing up Sibelius’ “Karelia Suite,” as well.
What emerges is a different thing entirely for anyone who has worn the grooves down on the old records with Greg Lake. Dismantled to their foundations, each of these ELP tracks is rebuilt, with blow after thunderous blow, by this fearless and muscular trio. They aren’t simply reiterating oldies, in the style of so many boomer-rock acts these days. They’re making every one of them new again.