King Crimson @ Duke Energy Center 10-26-17 [part 7]

The stunned Raleigh audience at concert’s end – yes, Ye Olde Monk is in there… somewhere… in theory ©2017 Tony Levin

[continued from past post]

The next step from “Level Five” was the peak melancholy of “Starless” from “Red.” Though it was from 1974, it still featured Mel Collins on soprano sax as a session player. Tonight he was once more in the band. The opening theme was mournful and solemn on Mellotron as Fripp carried the guitar leads and Jakszyk carried the vocal melody through the opening four minutes, or the “7” edit” of the composition. Then the tension began to ramp up methodically as the long, drawn-out instrumental buildup began with Tony Levin’s bass riff skulking in the shadows. The lightest touch of polypercussion then dusted the music bed as the anxiety-inducing guitar theme slowly ramped up the tension for what seemed an interminable amount of time.

At the eight minute mark, the full blown band was laying into the chord progression that was still slowly unfurling, albeit with a large sonic heft behind it now. Then the guitars, drums, and bass began riffing an ascending melody that zig-zagged upward until a plateau was reached where the song erupted with Collins’ sax solo in full jazz mode. Then Fripp circled in for the kill with another of his “shower of sparks” solos that climaxed the song before it returned to the starting theme for its finale. Powerful stuff for certain, and it hewed fairly closely to the album’s template. At this point the band took their bows amid a standing ovation and briefly left the stage before returning for the encore.

The “wind session” noises heralded this, the ultimate King Crimson song that after decades of hoping for in vain, I was finally hearing this evening. The ultimate monster riff of “21st Century Schizoid Man” would be the second spine-tingling moment of the evening for me. This song was the alpha and omega of King Crimson. Everything else was a bonus, but if all they had ever written and recorded was this one, the band would still rightly be hailed as visionary creators. The alien-for-its-time mixture of industrial/metal/free jazz along with lyrics that carried all the moral force of the counter culture facing the atrocity of society that began to manifest by 1969, has not dated a whit. The horror-filled Shadow of humanity is, if anything, even more unhinged today, making the righteous outrage of this song even more needed in our time. As we face the terror of the 21st century on a daily basis, we can see schizoid men filling the halls of every business and governmental concern.

Just because it’s the ultimate King Crimson classic, that doesn’t mean that the eight headed monster isn’t willing to color outside the outlines with it. Unlike with the preceding “Starless,” the band take the opportunity to inject “Schizoid” with some serious, expansive soloing. Taking it to twice its nominal length this evening with some serious injection of improv by both Mel Collins, who gave us a ferocious sax solo after the “first movement” of the song and before the “Mirrors” segment. He was riffing away for several minutes to be followed by the drumline’s efforts afterward, but really, it was all about Gavin Harrison on this number. Pat Mastelotto and Jeremy Spencer quickly ceded the spotlight to Harrison who managed to travel far and wide of the mark with a stunning percussive excursion that lasted for almost four minutes as the energy levels of the song went from minute to thunderous and all points in between as the audience drank it all in; slack-jawed. At one point Mastelotto silently applauded his cohort while looking on with the rest of us.

Just when we thought the thread may have been lost for good, the tempo synched up with the remainder of the song with the ultra tight mass ensemble that was a hallmark of the “Mirrors” section of the song with frequent stops and starts on “the one” with no problems. The theme returned as Jakszyk spat out the final verse with unfettered bile and the song ended on a truly threatening, chaotic blast of uniform noise from all on stage. And it was over! Over three hours later and we’d just been given a masterclass in all aspects of King Crimson burnished to a brilliant gloss and charged with enough electricity to light up Chicago.

Next: …Conclusion [will be my epitaph]

Posted in Concert Review, Core Collection, Your Prog Roots Are Showing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

King Crimson @ Duke Energy Center 10-26-17 [part 6]

Tony Levin captures King Crimson after the encore ©2017 Tony Levin

[continued from previous post]

Following a drum improv, one more classic from “Larks Tongues In Aspic” was served up. “Easy Money” was the one song this evening where its early-70s origins were called upon in a new way to add a saucy sprinkling of dare I say it… funkiness to the proceedings that were absent from the album track template. There was just a hint of wah-wah guitar and some clavinet patches from the synths following its melodramatic intro but I certainly noticed it! The playful percussion that danced around the bass and synth interplay showed this band could have the lightest of touches. At the 2:30 point, the song template was abandoned for some solo improvs that say the vibe chilling out radically with Frips solo going deep into his mid-70s slow-growing, sustain rich tone he used to such an effect on side one of “Evening Star.” This man is not always about the face-meling solo as this torrid slow burner proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.

In contrast to his monolithic vibe, Mel Collins contributed the subtlest touches of frayed alto sax around the edges of Fripp’s solo, which was made in concert with the deep sea synth/Mellotron patches. The stuttering drums underpinned it with a jazzy propulsion while Jakszyk’s wordless vocals soared over it all like a kite flying at midnight. Then Fripp’s second solo erupted in a shower of sparks like a catherine wheel as the song returned to its main theme for another pass. Then they took it home, complete with a mocking laughing bag sample just like the album rendition. A big difference was the guitar loop submotif that Fripp faded the song out on. Subtly echoing the similar loop at the end of Bowie’s “It’s No Game Pt. 1.”

We next got what’s being called on set lists as the “Lizard Suite.” It’s really “The Battle Of Glass Tears” or movement three of side two of “Lizard.” It began with the vocal segment, “Dawn Song” which almost has a Gershwin feel to it with Mel Collins playing his alto sax for a jazzy, clarinet feel. Just some piano additionally complemented Jakszyk’s plaintive vocal. From there it moved to the oppressive “Last Skirmish” which then set a musical battle on a field where Mellotrons and war drums engaged in a fatal dance. The swinging synth leads sounded here like a roomful of saxes swaggering on the battlefield as Mel Collins added a nimble flute counterpoint to the increasingly complex drumming. As it heated up he broke out the baritone sax as the mid point was reached for a wailing solo from Jakzsyk on guitar.

I have had this portion of the song playing in a loop in mu brain for much of the week prior to the show and it’s thrilling to actually be hearing what amounts to the crucial half of “Lizard” with this hot band taking it to the stage. But things only got more impressive as the final sub-movement, “Prince Rupert’s Lament” got underway with Fripp giving the finest solo I have ever heard from him. As the frantic heat of “Last Skirmish” dissipated abruptly, the three drummers performed an elegiac war drum beat on their kettle drums in unison as Fripp soloed high above the desolation like an avenging raven of destruction. His tone here was pulling grief from the air like black, dried rose petals falling through his fingers as his lamentation was profound and so darkly beautiful. I’ve always loved side two of “Lizard” even though side one was my absolute favorite. It was here that they managed to invest their Prog standard with the swing of jazz to arrive at a more unique platform and it was the main reason why I loved this album so much. I have never loved this music more than I did that night in concert.

This deep into the show they pulled out some of the new material they had been writing since going on the road three years earlier. The songs have not yet been given a studio recording, but at this stage of the game, it may be that King Crimson only releases live music. “Meltdown” was a nimble vocal number with excellent lyrics that definitely had the feel of modern King Crimson. It would have felt at home on any album after 1980 as the interlocking, dual guitar “industrial gamelan” approach the band have perfected over the years served it well. Of course, it was written for this band, so there was plenty of room for Mr. Collins to add some thick, creamy saxophone to this number.

It followed seamlessly with “Radical Action II,” a driving instrumental that would have felt right at home on the “Power To Believe” album. It actually seemed of a piece with that album’s superb “Level Five,” a.k.a. “Lark’s Tongues In Aspic Pt. V.” When “Radical Action II” seamlessly segued into “Level Five” that showed the the band were in 100% agreement with my thoughts.

The vertiginous, drum-laden intro plateaued out into Fripp’s first solo; a rapidly free-falling descent via his loping guitar lines. Then the percussive movement touched on elements of techno as tuned but random white noise patches plunged the song into lurching chaos. Then Fripp began to shred out his second solo with vicious ferocity; pacing his turns with more runs of percussion in a give and take that touched on elements of techno. My friend Tom then turned to me and asked “what is that?”

“Level Five,” I answered knowingly. Apparently Tom had not heard “The Power To Believe,” where this was one of the highlights. The drums continued to pummel while Fripp pulled up into an ascending solo of studied assurance. Then Collins added a new, high-pressure tenor sax solo that continued the ascent of energy up to levels of frenzy. It had been thrilling hearing this player find plenty of accommodation for his powerful, accomplished solos that broadened the scope of every song he played on. Fortunately for us, he soloed on everything. As he blew the top off of the hall, the accumulated thrust of the rhythm section coming together as one for a series of hammering sonic blows was cataclysmically climactic. Then the original guitar theme reinstated to ebb the energy levels downward for the coda. I had seen “Level Five” performed in 2003 but it had nothing on the scope and drama of this evening’s stunning performance.

Next: …Apocalypse Now

Posted in Concert Review, Core Collection, Your Prog Roots Are Showing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

King Crimson @ Duke Energy Center 10-26-17 [part 5]

King Crimson prepare to enter the stage ©2017 Tony Levin

[continued from previous post]
During a twenty minute intermission where I had joined my wife back in the Mezzanine section, we were glad that the merch tables were safely in the past. My wife had been getting ill in the days prior to the show and was considering going out to the car to rest, but their cover of “Heroes” which had been a staple of the Summer tour leg was a powerful reason for her to stay for the second set. They had a penchant for playing it during the encore. The notion of Fripp playing that one live was intoxicating. As the lights began to dim, I made my way back to my seat and conferred with my friends Elisa and Tom. Then, the band re-took to the stage and began playing what would be a very different take on “Indiscipline,” from my favorite King Crimson album, “Discipline.”

The normally slow buildup for this song before it erupted into its full multi-time signature glory was pushed to the brink in a way that only a version of King Crimson with three drummers could accomplish. They teased and coaxed an even slower buildup, which was now shot through with sibilant, percussive hisses of white noise pads [one of my favorite percussion gambits] as they extended the intro to nearly ludicrous levels of anticipation before without warning they erupted on the one into the full blown chaos of the song unfettered. Every musician, with Mel Collins blowing furious sax from a zero cold start was something my mind could barely begin to process. With twice the musicians than originally played it, they took many liberties of added rhythmic complexity. Fripp played some new, insane Django Reinhardt-like jazz runs completely counter to the raging beast of a bass line that this number sported.

Once the time came for vocalist Jakszyk to enter the song, he shocked by actually singing the lyrics; mirroring his melodious guitar lines for this song in a way diametrically opposed to the recitation original vocalist Adrian Belew gave it earlier. Fripps solos mutated from playful jazz lines to furious showers of sparks as the song sped forward to its conclusion after eight minutes; almost twice as long as the song was on album. Jakszyk threw another final curveball by singing the last lyric en Español.

“¡Me gusta!”

They next played a late period Crimson classic; the first movement of the title track to 2000’s “The ConstruKction Of Light.” This was the song that gave Tony Levin fits last summer in Red Bank, New Jersey when he waited for four beats instead of the proscribed six and threw the tune into time signature disarray. This one was an example of a band crafting extremely complex music that did not necessarily need to pin the listeners to a wall. The song’s gentle rolling complexity was further warmed by the presence of Mel Collins on saxophone and flute solos. It was fascinating to hear late period, highly technical Crimson cross pollinated with vibes from the band’s early history.

Next came a shocker. “Moonchild” was the ethereal ballad from their iconic debut album, but on the album it was three minutes of delicacy with nine minutes of improv bolted on to make their album long enough without resorting to cover tunes. For these ears, it was at least five minutes more of improv than the song merited and this was keeping in mind that the band were all in their early twenties when then did this. Much of it sounded like noodling. Tonight, the song was performed with perhaps four minutes of improv; this time by the veteran session master, 71 year old Tony Levin, who whipped out his standing bass and rose to the occasion along with Jeremy Stacy on keyboards with no difficulty.

Of course, when the last strains of “Moonchild” ebb, what else could follow but the heraldic tones of “In The Court Of The Crimson King?” As much as this band love to tweak their classic material, this was one instance where they definitely colored in the outlines. The Mellotrons were all in their places. Jakszyk effortlessly captured the boyish vocal tone of the late Greg Lake. Tony Levin’s backing vocals added choral depth to a song that demanded it. I could scarcely believe that I was actually hearing this song by King Crimson 60 feet away from me as it was perhaps the iconic song of the band which had been all but abandoned.

When I first saw the band in 1995, I laughed at the radio ads for the concert I attended in Orlando that the promoter used “In The Court Of The Crimson King” in, blatantly knowing that they would never play that one live in a million years. Well, maybe 22! The last time I can verify that they played it was in 1971 on the “Islands” tour! More importantly, the eight piece band truly did it justice this evening. No shortcuts needed to be made with 16 hands at the ready. The one shock to my ears was that when the song reached its climactic chord, it was actually ending then. The “Dance Of The Puppets” coda which followed with another two minutes was not played this evening.

Next: …Lizards and Lucre

Posted in Concert Review, Core Collection, Your Prog Roots Are Showing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

King Crimson @ Duke Energy Center 10-26-17 [part 4]

The set list for Raleigh ©2017 Tony Levin

[continued from previous post]

Following a brief drum improv, which during the course of the long concert served to act a palate cleansers between movements of the concert at large, we next heard a song from the one King Crimson studio album I do not own. I had bought a copy of “Islands” around 18 years ago only to come to the conclusion that it was not speaking to me at all. The only of their studio albums that I could say that about. Since this was a track that I did not recognize, ergo, it had to be from “Islands.” The song was a delicate pastoral ballad of tremolos and the clear, earnest vocals of Mr. Jakszyk. For the first 90 seconds at least, then the band erupted into life for several bars until Mel Collins took a lengthy solo on his baritone sax, which traveled down the jazz road, gradually becoming more and more distraught until Fripp’s shimmering peals of guitar edged Collins into full skronk territory. The song was “The Letters” and I certainly did not remember anything remotely like this.

At the song’s midpoint, the drumline had by that time joined Collins in free jazz territory. It was at this point that the thought had occurred to me that I maybe needed to give the “Islands” album another chance. If only to see how far they took it down a completely different path with the song dramatically expanded with Collins’ solo to almost twice its album length. After three minutes of frantic riffing from Collins, his tone began to subdue until the song rested in a moment of silence at the 6:30 point, prompting a round of applause before Jakszyk broke the spell with his melodramatic pronouncement of “…impaled on nails of ice!” to the full force of the entire band taking this unsettling version of “The Letters” to its conclusion. Collins then switched to flute to underscore the fact that the band had quickly dropped out, leaving Jakszyk alone in the spotlight to conclude the song as if it had been a suicide note all along.

In a fit of synchronicity, King Crimson [via] have now made this Raleigh performance of”The Letters” available as a free download for one and all. Click Here and opt to “purchase show” and then the option to download the MP3 of it will manifest.

The next song could not have been more surprising, if only because it was not actually a King Crimson song. The next song was a deep cut from Robert Fripp’s debut solo album. “Breathless” from “Exposure!” This was a real treat for the inveterate Fripp fan who had never heard anything from this album live before. Any solo touring that Fripp had done from 1979-1981 featured only Frippertronic improvs or the League Of Gentlemen material. Incendiary material like “Breathless” had never been played live before…until now. The interlock between Fripp and Levin, who had reprised his session appearance on the song was as nerve-wrackiing and accomplished as the album version had been 38 years earlier.

Following that frenzied peak of “Breathless” another track from “Islands” got an airing. This time it was the delicate yet epic title ballad that featured a rare turn of Collins soothing our collective brows with a sweet and tender tenor sax solo that played delightful counterpoint to the plaintive vocals of Jakszyk that carried this soothing number. The exercise in contrasts that this band was capable of was never more concisely delineated than in the juxtaposition of the preceding “Breathless” and this lilting number. Again, I found myself wondering if I had actually heard the “Islands” album all those years earlier. I would definitely need to revisit a copy soon.

Finally, the first half of the set would see them playing a number that I was lucky enough to have heard only the first time I saw King Crimson in 1995. The screaming seagull sounds heralded my first serious goosebump moment of the concert this evening as the band began playing “Larks Tongues In Aspic Part II.” This was quite a number. It had been seared into my brain most powerfully on the video of King Crimson live in Japan from the 1984 tour, which I have on laserdisc. From that point on it was one of my go-to Crimson tracks. In the week before the concert I was listening to lots of King Crimson, but this track more than any other, was simply lodged in my cranium for days at a time. The ascending riff forms a perfect Mobius loop of sound spiraling ever upward towards the point of orgasmic release, which the song ultimately delivers.

This night the version played was significantly altered by the trio of drummers and the presence of Mel Collins. The early, brutish stages of the song featured pummeling drums that were magnified considerably by the sheer number of players involved as the guitar riffs were played. Then, the added sax of Mel Collins served to create extra pressure as he picked up what was David Cross’ violin solo on the original album version. Through it all, Fripp’s ascending guitar riff kept returning to circle upward until the song’s peak where the three drummers managed to coalesce into a accelerating, rolling percussive sound not unlike a hard rubber ball bouncing faster and faster on a hard surface as it loses its inertia before Fripp’s and Jakszyk’s final climactic blast of notes were joined by Collin’s trilling sax for an ending you’d never forget. Insert standing ovation.

Next: …The Second Act

Posted in Concert Review, Core Collection, Your Prog Roots Are Showing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

King Crimson @ Duke Energy Center 10-26-17 [part 3]

Robert Fripp reviews the sound of the hall during soundcheck ©2017 Tony Levin

It went without saying that with Robert Fripp on stage, the sound of the show would have no unpleasant surprises. We’ve recently discussed negative trends in live sound and of course, this show had a miraculous dynamic range that allowed for impossibly delicate sound that could ratchet all the way up to loud; completely bypassing brutal. The initial drumming up front was a gift to the ears as each percussive filament in the sound they were weaving was clear and distinct.

The next song played was one from the second King Crimson album. I’d been lukewarm on “In the Wake Of Poseidon” ever since hearing it in the late 70s. To me it was a weak attempt to craft another “In The Court Of The Crimson King” after losing most of its musicians, but trying anyway. “Pictures Of A City” was always a song that, on a good day, seemed like a weak knockoff of “21st Century Schizoid Man.” Not tonight! Sure, sure. The song always had a wide variety of tempos at which it could either saunter or sprint through, but the assurance of musicians who had been honing their craft for nearly fifty years meant that the arrangement calcified in the album would most certainly be superseded here tonight.

This was our first experience with Jakko Jakszyk giving voice to the lines originally sung by Greg Lake. Jakszyk had a boyish tone that belied his obvious age and probably came the closest to Greg Lake that this band had seen in over 40 years. Even so, he seemed more credible at spitting out the harsh vocal lines to this song than Lake ever did. The swaggering strut of this one gave Mel Collins a chance to revisit his territory of 1970 with a new perspective. The way the song descended into ever tightening circles of jazz power riffing was certainly thrilling. Never more so than with this large, capable band.

One of the biggest missteps of the original was the movement where almost all of the music evaporated before a recircling back to the main theme for the climax. The nearly minute of the tune originally seemed like dead air in an otherwise lively piece. Tonight would differ as Collins took the lead to dig his spurs into his sax for a full-bodied solo couched in Fripp’s abstract bed of soft jazz chords while the drums danced around them both in a frenzied shuffle. By the time the song had its famous cold ending on an extended, panicked chord, the massed sound of the full band had made the original album version sound like a flexidisc demo. This was power.

What had thrilled me more than anything about this particular formation of King Crimson was the presence of Mel Collins on saxes and flutes. As soon as I heard that he was in hearing this band became an immediate passion. While he had basically filled in for Ian McDonald on “In The Wake Of Poseidon,” I felt that he really came into his own on the follow-up, “Lizard.” He added a great deal of jazz flavoring that was always latent in King Crimson, and I really felt that he [along with pianist Keith Tippett] had pushed them into new and exciting territory on this album in particular. Now they would be playing one of my favorites from “Lizard.”

“Cirkus” was built on a abrasive tritone mellotron riff that actually managed to make the preternaturally winsome instrument create a sense of dread. This was another of Crimson’s dark mirror songs that they held up to society. The jazz present in this song lacked the abrasive attack of a “21st Century Schizoid Man,” but opted instead for something more subtle even as Mel Collins fruity sax solo here was one of his few this evening where he was following his own template from 47 years earlier. My friend Tom pointed out afterward that Mr. Jakszyk’s boyish singing lacked the tone of plummy contempt that original singer Gordon Haskell brought to the song. I conceded this but was too busy basking in the apocalyptic undertow of it all.

Next came a pure form of jazz that I did not immediately recognize. The fast tempo, skittering drumline immediately brought the nervous frenzy of Elmer Bernstein’s “Man With The Golden Arm.” When Tony Levin began hitting the spaces in-between with his standup bass it was thrilling jazz…but still not a recognizable Crimson tune. Only when the descending melody line appeared a minute into it did I realize that this was a hugely-re-tooled version of “Neurotica” from the “Beat” album of 1982!

This song now cooked like a breakneck jazz slalom through a frenzied urban nightmare. They omitted the speed-raps that Adrian Belew recited on the album version [and played back in concert this year] so only when the tempo ebbed considerably for the much slower in tempo “chorus” structure with the more languid Fripp guitar runs, did Jakszyk sing the chorus in the track. This was taking a song with a jazz framework and taking it all the way across the finish line! Mel Collin’s frantic sax skronk here was the stuff of tingling spines. Thinking about it now still does the trick! “Neurotica” was a testament to how many notes could be packed into a song under five minutes long.

After that frenzied peak, it was time to cool the show down a bit. It was time for a rare King Crimson ballad, though this was from their otherwise impactful “Red” 70s swan-song. “Fallen Angel” began with a Fripp guitar line sporting that rich, mid-70s tone he used to such great effect on the albums he made with Brian Eno. This song got off to a beautiful, even bucolic start, with Jakszyk’s singing hitting close to the mark of the late John Wetton, albeit without the duskiness Wetton brought to the song. Mel Collins played on “Red” as a session man so he had plenty of spotlight this evening to deliver his great solo once again as the tone of the song grew shifted from genteel to the point of heartbreak over its running time.

The mood shifted to accommodate an even more downbeat Crimson classic. While “21st Century Schizoid Man” will always be my favorite form their debut, I like the whole album, and “Epitaph” certainly view with “In The Court Of The Crimson King” as being the most epic sound on that disc. When one thinks “Mellotron Prog,” songs like this surely must be the first to come to mind. It has some of lyricist Peter Sinfield’s best work ever as it examines the ultimate folly of man with a heavy heart. Tonight they played it close to the template because let’s face it, it was perfect right out of the gate. There’s nothing that could have been done to improve this one. I have to admit that the intervening period of nearly fifty years has done nothing to render this song irrelevant. Quite the opposite. Our world seems as fatally flawed as ever as this song clearly shows. Crimson had tapped into their roots to deliver an impactful package that with the full eight man band onstage I’ll wager had never sounded as good as this evening. Never mind the 40+ years where Crimson setlists would definitely be missing this one.

Next: …More Surprises Abound



Posted in Concert Review, Core Collection, Your Prog Roots Are Showing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

King Crimson @ Duke Energy Center 10-26-17 [part 2]

The Brotherhood of the Crim® prepare to take to the stage ©2017 Tony Levin

[continued from this post]

We made our way into the auditorium and our seats were exceptional. We were in the second row of permanent seats, close to stage right; very close to Mel Collins and Pat Mastelotto. The camera policy, which has been a long-term Fripp bugbear has codified into signs onstage and throughout the venue describing the band’s camera policy. They’ve settled on a fair compromise. Since Tony Levin keeps a road diary full of his photography, KC have deemed that when Levin brings out his camera after the encore than the audience is free to snap away. If this rule is broken, it has been determined that stopping the show and removing the infractor has proven a powerful disincentive for rogue papparazzi. Even so, the show the night prior in Atlanta, in the much more intimate Center Stage [cap. 1,100] resulted in application of this rule. Gulp!

In the hour before showtime the Fripp soundscapes filtered into the venue. I think I’ve read somewhere that Fripp records unique soundscapes for the beginning of each show! Any double dippers out there who can verify this? There are many two-night stands on this tour. My wife got her ticket much later so she was sitting in a different part of the floor, but for now she sat with us until the seat she occupied arrived. I had gotten contacted by PPM commenter James Pagan, who lived nearby and he revealed that he was sitting in the row behind me; just a seat to my right, so naturally when he arrived we introduced ourselves and our wives and managed to chat about music and pets for a while. Then the event began.

The band walked out to applause all dressed in suits as they took to their stations. The back line was from left to right, Mel Collins [sax/flute], Tony Levin [bass, chapman stick], Chris Gibson [synths], Jakko Jakszyk [vocals/guitar], and Robert Fripp [guitar/synths]. The frontline were three drummers who began playing first. From left to right was Pat Mastelotto [drums/percussion], Jeremy Stacey [drums/synths], and Gavin Harrison [drums]. The drummers wove a web of drum improv for a short time until the pealing of metallic percussion heralded the coming of “Lark’s Tongues In Aspic Part I.” The drummers were tickling various glockenspiels and here might have even been a kalimba in there just like on the album. With three drummers, one can indulge in these luxuries. My attention was on Fripp as I could clearly see him playing the serrated “warning claxon” riff that was his entry to the song in advance of the sound engineer fading him up in the mix. It gave me a sense of seeing the storm advance before I heard it.

Then it swept through the auditorium like a firestorm as the song dispensed with its deceptively genteel intro to begin the excursion into the paradoxical delicacy of the song which as usual, sat cheek-by-jowel with an onslaught of power and intensity. What my friend Ron calls Crimson’s “punishment/reward” ethos. This evening the song was possessed of a jazzy swagger that this much larger band brought to the proceedings. Now that Robert Fripp has adopted his New Standard Tuning, he is not absolutely replicating his guitar parts. Due to NST, some of those old moves are too awkward to make, so it fell to Jakszyk to lay into the almost bluesy power riff that came from an unexpected quarter with this band.

Then while our skulls were beginning to melt, Fripp laid into a high intensity solo over Jakszyk with his characteristic hyperkinetic onslaught. Then the drummers took the baton; propelling the song with roiling waves of breakneck percussive speed until flautist Collins allowed the song to hover majestically and alight on a flower with his delicate and playful flute solo that was given plenty of space to develop before Fripp’s claxon riff circled back for a restatement of the guitar theme as the first song of the evening ultimately relaxed into its delicate, lyrical coda. Shock and awe, yes, but also beauty and wonderment all wrapped up in the first ten minutes of this show unlike any other. It was going to be a thrilling evening.

Next… Song #2!



Posted in Concert Review, Core Collection, Your Prog Roots Are Showing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

There’s No Telling When This Blog Will Reactivate

Events conspire to keep me from blogging for a little while longer. Working long hours with no lunch. Traveling for concerts. Getting sick. Getting conjunctivitis on top of getting sick. This is my universe. Still waiting for a good night’s sleep and a return to the relative calm of work and the holy lunch hour devoted to blogging. Until then…

Aside | Posted on by | 24 Comments