This concert was held on 28 July at the Birmingham Symphony Hall. It was a great success. Produced and directed by Jim Davidson OBE, with the profit going to Care after Combat.
Keith Emerson was a big supporter of veterans. He will be sadly missed having taken his own life 18 months ago.
A 60-piece orchestra filled the stage for the first half. Conductor Terje Miklesen opened the show with the Emerson composition Abaddon’s Bolero, with special guest Rick Wakeman on mini Moog.
More orchestral compositions followed, and then special guest star Rachel Flowers who played piano on the Endless Enigma suite. There was not a dry eye in the house, including Rachel, who found the whole event overpowering sometimes. Jim had to run to her rescue with the Kleenex tissues. In fact, there were many Kleenex tissues used.
The surprises kept coming, as Rick Wakeman entertained us all with the classical version of Nutrocker. Keith’s grandson Ethan played “The Dreamer” on grand piano accompanied by the wonderful orchestra.
Marc Bonilla, and Travis Davis, two members of the Keith Emerson band, had flown in from Los Angeles and were joined by Strictly Come Dancing drummer Brett Morgan. These three gave the orchestra some considerable punch, which was highlighted with Marc’s American Matador.
Closing the first half was Rachel Flowers performing the Keith Emerson piano Concerto number one, third movement. This brought the house down. Things could get no better until the encore, which saw Keith’s son Aaron, perform Fanfare for the Common Man with the orchestra. Jim said: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a complete standing ovation.”
Part two brought us Thiery Eliez from France. His piano playing and rendition of Take a Pebble was just superb and he was joined by singer Celine Poggi and cellist Yan Garac for a rendition of Trilogy. This went down really well with the audience who gave them a standing ovation.
Damian Joyce was joined by brilliant drummer Frank Scully, Darren on bass and Aaron on piano. Damian played the last piece of music that Keith wrote in collaboration with another musician. It was beautiful. There then followed a tribute to Greg Lake with “From the Beginning”.
After a dreadful session of community singing led by Jim, the stage was set for Noddy’s Puncture. They ripped straight into Tarkus. They sounded fantastic, with Frank Askew on drums, Ed Blaney on bass guitar and Emerson clone Tom Szakerly on keys that included the big monster Moog!
Unfortunately, the clock was ticking and their set had to be cut down dramatically to allow Lee Jackson to join them onstage to finish with America. The venue had an 11 o’clock curfew and these shows tend to overrun.
Jim said: “It was devastating for me to tell the stage manager to ask Tom from Noddy’s Puncture to stop playing. If I hadn’t done this Lee Jackson would’ve traveled miles and hung around for two days for nothing.”
The whole show lasted 3 hours. And took 6 months to produce. There is lots of footage on YouTube and across social media for you to enjoy.
There is also a special offer of an Official Programme, commemorative t-shirt complete with a back stage pass for just £30. Please visit http://www.careaftercombat.org/shop/mens/keith-emerson-tribute-t-shirt-and-official-programme-bundle/