Keith Emerson is one of the best keyboard showmen in all of live music. He’s not just a proficient keyboard player, his appeal really lies in his ability to combine showmanship with ability. Keith really has a unique keyboard playing style which is very percussive. He has fast hands and can play very technical classical music. As I said, he doesn’t just sit there and dazzle you with his keyboard playing skill. In concert he has been known to jam knives into his Hammond organ to hold down specific keys while he plays. He’s been seen jumping over his keyboard and tipping it upside down and playing it in that position. He’s never been afraid to experiment and express music with simple sound manipulation. His Moog Synthesizer solo on the ELP song “Lucky Man” put synthesizer playing front and center in popular music.
In this clip, he’s playing a piano solo at the Montreaux festival in 1997. It’s a jazz festival and the progressive players really seem to step it up at this particular event. It’s fun to watch Keith as he just can’t resist doing zany things during the solo like playing a few hits with his elbow. That particular move’s musical relevance within the solo is questionable but the showmanship aspect of it is undeniable. That’s Keith Emerson in a nutshell. Watch this clip and you’ll get a little bit of understanding into what makes Keith tick.
Keith Emerson Piano Solo