LIVE: King Crimson @ The Egg, 9/9&10/14

September 15th, 2014, 3:00 pm by Greg

Review by Bokonon

Breowrr bah-duh-dah bumpa, brrawwr brawwr…

Take your own stab at spelling it out, but the opening strains of “21st Century Schizoid Man” sent yet another thrilling shiver through The Egg last Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Another? Well, geez, it was competing with the performance premiere of “One More Red Nightmare” (40 years on from its vinyl bow), the barbed art crunch of “Red” and the righteous skronk of “Sailor’s Tale” (itself last heard live in 1972).

Post continues below...
Advertisement

King Crimson was in the house and it was any prog fan’s wet dream. Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant… pussies all compared to — Jack Black, back me up here — the majesty of King Crimson.

While the other blokes his age were bluesing it up through the late ’60s, Robert Fripp was getting his Henry Purcell on, forging a baroque jazz metal weirdness that festers to this day.

The two-night stand at The Egg (preceded by an invitation-only Friends and Family concert on Monday, and officially launching The Elements tour of North America) marked the public debut of a new, seven-strong Crimson monster, with three drummers in the front (Gavin Harrison, Pat Mastelotto and Bill Rieflin), protecting a backline of Fripp, Woodstock bassist Tony Levin, singer-guitarist Jakko Jakszyk and reed god Mel Collins.

The brilliant mix of new blood and past masters from different KC eras has resulted in a band capable of interpreting early classics as well as contemporary material. Some are already hailing the group as the finest incarnation ever, and I’m not standing far from that line.

Fripp’s wit was evident in the taped pre-show admonitions to keep phones in pocket. His genius was evident in the bone-crushing power and sweet subtlety of the band. Three drummers in the front, yet it was never bruising. A supple interplay of sticks, with single rhythmic sentences passing through six hands.

Fripp has never feared the future, and so Jakszyk’s new tunes were welcome, with “The Light of Day” and “A Scarcity of Miracles” dovetailing nicely with the Crimson catalog. His John Wetton-once-removed voice was as fine on the new material as it was on the classics. And the percussion crew’s fresh instrumental forays (“Hell Hounds of Krim” and “HooDoo”) were treats as well.

But Fripp has rarely embraced the past like this, and the tour’s opening salvos were as close to a King Crimson greatest hits show as anyone is ever likely to get.

“One More Red Nightmare.” A boner, plain and simple. Even the few women — the very few women, people, this was a prog show — had boners. “Starless” ruled. And life might be complete having seen Fripp herkily tease out the tense, jittery, almost spastic chords that stab through “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part Two,” near the end of both nights. Like a gift. Thanks, Bob. (Wednesday’s rendition, good lord…speechless).

Lots of shit music came out in the ’70s. I know. I was there. But the troika of Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black and Red was not on that list, and it’s still not.

“Vroom” and “The ConstruKction of Light” were solid reminders that Crimson wasn’t shit in the ’90s and ’00s either. And B-side surprises like “Pictures of a City” and “The Letters” only made both nights richer.

Kudos, too, to The Egg’s Peter Lesser (and show promoter Stu Levin) for continuing to make Albany an interesting place to live. Heck, just of late, Lesser’s recreated the English art rock guitar scene downtown with past and upcoming shows featuring Steve Howe, Robert Fripp, Steve Hackett and Robin Trower.

Breowrr bah-duh-dah bumpa, brrawwr brawwr…

SECOND OPINIONS
David Fricke’s review at Rolling Stone
Greg Haymes’ review at The Times Union
Tony Levin’s tour diary and photographs at his website
David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Tuesday night was incredible. Most of the night rumbled along like the soundtrack to Armageddon. And that was during its brighter moments. There were no pretty or fun melodies — or, one could argue, any melodies at all. It was experimental, ambitiously innovative rock played by grown men reaching for new heights — individually and as a group. And it wasn’t about big solos or hit songs. Instead, they amazed with large concepts, simple but doomsday chord progressions, and uncanny synergy that required unimaginable rehearsals. And then, of course, there was the sheer skill of the musicians. When drummer Gavin Harrison laid down a beat, drummer Pat Mastelotto pounded its anti-beat. Soon enough you realized they needed each other. With seven musicians, three of them hard-hitting percussionists — 22 cymbals, drums took over the show in many spots, and when the band cooked, the inertia was powerful.”

KING CRIMSON SET LIST (9/9/14)
Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part One
Pictures of a City
A Scarcity of Miracles (Jakszyk, Fripp & Collins)
The ConstruKCtion of Light (Part One)
One More Red Nightmare
Hell-Hounds of Krim (new)
Red
The Letters
VROOOM
Coda: Marine 475
Hell Bells (new)
Sailor’s Tale
The Light of Day
The Talking Drum
Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part Two
Starless
ENCORES
HooDoo (new)
21st Century Schizoid Man

KING CRIMSON SET LIST (9/10/14)
Level Five
One More Red Nightmare
A Scarcity of Miracles (Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins)
Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part One
Pictures of a City
The ConstruKction of Light (Part One)
Red
The Letters
Sailor’s Tale
VROOOM
Coda: Marine 475
Hell Bells
The Light of Day (Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins)
The Talking Drum
Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part Two
Starless
ENCORES
Hell-Hounds of Krim
21st Century Schizoid Man

2 thoughts on “LIVE: King Crimson @ The Egg, 9/9&10/14”

  1. Pierre Duval says:

    My question is to Robert: WIll this tour come to Montréal or around??I saw all KC concert since place des nations , both nights at the Spectrum ,St-Denis, Place des arts, Métropolis ,St- Denis and i can’t believe i will miss that one ! Thank you!

  2. Ed says:

    I don’t think the Sailor’s Tale was played between 1972 and 2014 at all. So 1984 is either a mistake or the reviewer knows of the ’84 show where “Sailor’s Tale” was featured.

Comments are closed.