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King Crimson - Live At The Orpheum CD (album) cover

LIVE AT THE ORPHEUM

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

3.03 | 106 ratings

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Glubluk
4 stars This is how I explain this rather confusing album:

1. The new line-up and setlist. Paradoxes abound. Three dynamic drummers who all play with admirable restraint. Songs drawing from past releases all but shunned by virtually all previous line-ups now come to the fore, but instead of making the whole affair a nostalgia trip, this serves as an unexpected twist for a band that has always relied on unexpected twists to forge their path ahead.

2. The format. A little over 40 minutes culled from much longer setlists. This obviously echoes "Earthbound", even if the abbreviation is enacted to a much lesser degree. Similarly, the song selection seems to compile the absolute highlights ('Starless', 'Sailor's Tale') with songs that this particular line-up is not too fitting for ('21st Century Schizoid Man') and new material that is not quite 'there' yet. Again, this echoes "Earthbound". Of the songs played on this tour, the one whose omission I regret the most is 'Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One', a song that could be considered this line-up's signature tune.

3. The production. Uncompressed and distant. Far from the roar and thrak of the most recent line-ups.

The verdict: to move forward, King Crimson revisit their past.

Now the new line-up. I would gladly hear the three drummers pounding away with abandon, but the minimalist approach on display here grew on me as rather unique and ultimately rewarding. Jakko Jakszyk, well, I do have a problem with him in King Crimson, to be honest. He is a very good musician, but he totally lacks Adrian Belew's charisma and I miss the element of spontainiety that Ade brought to the band, a wonderful counterpoint to Fripp's frippiness. Jakko's performance is all right, but for me, Belew's is the voice of KC, period. Without him, something will always be missing. Then again, the current direction and setlist (I don't even want to imagine Belew singing 'The Letters'...) cry for a different voice and approach, one which suits Jakko quite well. Then yet again, any KC gig without the 1994-2003 songs (and 'Frame By Frame') is bound to disappoint me (but there is The Crimson ProjeKct, so...). Last but not least, Mel Collins. I have come to appreciate him immensely after the numerous DGM releases of "Islands" line-up live, so his inclusion is entirely welcome.

At the end of the day, "Live at the Orpheum" works really well as a coherent work. If you believe that live albums are exactly that: albums (as opposed to documents), there is little to complain about here. The new line-up gives new twists to old songs, the performances are tight, and the drummers subtly inventive. All in all, King Crimson are still as relevant as they have always been, even if a fan of the 1995-2003 line-ups such as me might prefer something different.

Glubluk | 4/5 |

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