Three Fates Project &
Elephant 9

September 3, 2012, Parkteatret, Oslo, Norway

Recently a music loving colleague tipped off that Keith Emerson, the famous keyboardist of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, would perform live to present his new album at the Parkteatret in Grünerløkka, a rather trendy and nice part of Oslo. The Norwegian prog jazz wonderboys of Elephant 9 would be sharing the bill. Can you imagine the urge to get tickets? Parkteatret appeared to be a rather small venue which was quite nicely filled up with approximately two hundred music lovers, and yes, indeed, for the greater part mature and grey gentlemen. The new album was for sale as well and this was the first time I bought vinyl at a gig in addition to the CD/DVD, obviously. Cool, but kind of unpractical when you're standing in a crowded venue...

Elephant 9

It took quite a bit of patience before the gig finally started, but then, Norwegians are typically unstressed... Elephant 9 took the stage with keyboardist extraordinaire
Elephant 9
Ståle Storløkken behind a roaring Hammond organ accompanied by bass player Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen and drummer Torstein Lofthus. Since this gig I have an addition to my list of favourite drummers for Torstein is an amazing rhythm machine who plays incredibly tight. What I like a lot is the way he managed to keep eye contact with the other band members while hitting everything around him in perfect time. He was centre stage with the bass on his right and the Hammond on his left. It was simply hard not to focus on Torstein. While bass player Hængsle Eilertsen kept a fairly steady pace, it was very much Storløkken doing quick runs and experiments on his keys. A shame that he didn't bring his Fender Rhodes for this gig, but then I understand that he concentrated on the Hammond in honour of one of his major influences: Keith Emerson. Three pieces of about ten minutes each and the gig was over way too soon.

Three Fates Project

Interview session: Marc Bonilla, Keith Emerson and Terje Mikkelsen (L to R)
While some minor adjustments were made on stage, professor in popular music Bjørn Ole Rasch started leading a question and answer session with Keith Emerson, guitarist Marc Bonilla and drummer Terje Mikkelsen about their Three Fates Project in particular and their musical past in general. The interview was rather informal and informative and at times also very funny. Bonilla was in an excellent mood, and probably the easiest talker of the threesome, but Emerson got obviously most of the questions, something he wasn't feel comfortably with all of the time. I wonder whether he was a bit anxious, being this his first public performance in almost two years, or if there was something else. He seemed a bit absent at occasions, but then he came back with a funny anecdote to react on questions.

Marc Bonilla solo
After this lengthy interview session, in which the audience was allowed to participate, Marc Bonilla was the first to play on stage. His American Matador featured him solo on guitar with the orchestra coming from a disc. As Terje Mikkelsen ironically remarked with regard to the size of the venue: 'We had the choice of either bringing an orchestra or having an audience.' It's a great piece of music with an interesting Spanish − almost flamenco − touch and it was a joy to see Bonilla's fluent playing. After that Emerson sat down behind the grand piano on the other side of the stage for an improvisation. However, I would have loved to see him play on the Hammond that stood so close to him all the time, but I understand that for this occasion he mainly stuck to the piano. At the time I was unfamiliar with the piece, but I recognized a bit of Tarkus at the start and there may have been a touch of The Endless Enigma in there as well. It turned out that it was one of the new Emerson pieces from the Three Fates Project album called After All Of This. Marc Bonilla joined in for the closing section with some dreamy guitar lines.

Next the rhythm section of Elephant 9 joined Emerson and Bonilla for a wonderful version of Stones Of Years. Keith led this piece on the grand piano into a real jazzy mood
Full line up
and gradually they moved towards a rockier side when Bonilla's guitars took over the lead. Awesome! After this Emerson went to the synths in the centre of the stage. During the previous piece a horn section and a kettledrummer from the Royal Norwegian Navy, had already been waiting on stage, but for Fanfare For The Common Man, the next piece to be performed, they were allowed to join in. Terje Mikkelsen conducted the first part, which was the original Aaron Copland version with horns; next the rock band took over with a smashing version of this classic. Bjørn Ole Rasch participated for the occasion providing additional synths. The horn section and the band closed off together in a smashing finale − a bit of a shame that the band drowned out most of the sound of the horns...

After a short break Emerson returned to the stage for a piano-only version of Tarkus − about the first half of the piece − which closed off an all too short evening. Keep your fingers crossed that the Three Fates Project will return with a full orchestra!

Text and pictures by Carsten Busch (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Setlist Elephant 9:

Setlist Three Fates Project:

The Riddler

American matador (Bonilla solo)
After all of this (Emerson solo)
Stones of years (full band)
Fanfare for the common man (full band)
Tarkus (piano version)

Line up Elephant 9:

Setlist Three Fates Project:

Ståle Storløkken:
Hammond organ
Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen:
Torstein Lofthus:
Keith Emerson:
grand piano, synths
Marc Bonilla:
Terje Mikkelsen:
Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen:
Torstein Lofthus:
Bjørn Ole Rasch:
additional synths / horn section from the Norwegian Royal Navy

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