[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.
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