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King Crimson Live At The Orpheum album cover
3.04 | 115 ratings | 11 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Live, released in 2015

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Walk On: Monk Morph Chamber Music (2:34)
2. One More Red Nightmare (6:07)
3. Banshee Legs Bell Hassle (1:40)
4. The ConstruKction of Light (6:31)
5. The Letters (4:57)
6. Sailor's Tale (6:51)
7. Starless (12:15)

Total Time: 40:55

1. Walk On: Monk Morph Chamber Music
2. One More Red Nightmare
3. Banshee Legs Bell Hassle
4. The ConstruKction of Light
5. The Letters
6. Sailor's Tale
7. Starless

Total Time: 41 min. approx.

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Fripp / guitar
- Tony Levin / basses, Chapman stick
- Bill Rieflin / drums
- Pat Mastelotto / drums
- Gavin Harrison / drums
- Jakko Jakszyk / guitar, vocals
- Mel Collins / saxes, flute

Releases information

CD+DVD Panegyric, Discipline Global Mobile DGMSP2 (2015 US) (DVD-A Sound options: 24/96 Hi-Res stereo)
CD+DEV Wowow Entertainment, Inc. IEZP-85 (2015 Japan)
LP Discipline Global Mobile, Panegyric, Inner Knot DGMLV1 (2015 UK, Europe & US) (200 g super-heavyweight vinyl version limited to a single pressing)
LP Wowow Entertainment, Inc. IEPS-9118 (2015 Japan)

Thanks to Glimpse for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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KING CRIMSON Live At The Orpheum ratings distribution

(115 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(28%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (16%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

KING CRIMSON Live At The Orpheum reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ExittheLemming
2 stars A Scarcity of Standing Room

One of the great consolations afforded by the Crim's vast eclectic output is that even at their most willfully impenetrable, piously abstruse or drippily soporific, they are seldom predictable and at the very least their abject chaff is some of the most harvestable chaff available. Discipline Global Mobile's ever growing silos of repatriated bootlegs and official live recordings are testimony to our voracious appetite for what can be some extremely indigestible fodder. Kudos are therefore due to 'this Fripp' winning a seemingly losing battle against the institutionalised exploitation of musicians and their lack of protection from copyright piracy that he has waged for nigh on 40 years. By his own account, Bob has described this as a dispiriting and ruinously expensive fight against the legal obfuscation of his previous management and the complicity of a judiciary swayed by precedents set by industry practices that have never been sufficiently challenged or subjected to any form of rigorous scrutiny. Similar to those exorcists who have expelled demons and prevailed, all will testify that every victory is accompanied by the death of yet another little portion of their human soul. Bob Fripp has never done 'safe', his courtiers are never allowed to 'tread water' and despite his measured urbane mildness and inscrutable candor his sworn enemies have always been mediocrity and conservatism.

Why then has he granted royal assent to the release of 41 minutes of the most anodyne and tame Crimson to have hit the shelves since erm...In the Wake of Poseidon? (another pale imitation of a former glory in their discography)

There's a danger here in falling into the trap of judging this record by what it does NOT contain i.e. as if it were a clumsily truncated souvenir of a much lengthier statement of intent that featured performances of Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part I, The Light of Day and the title track from A Scarcity of Miracles, VROOM, Level Five, Pictures of a City and what is becoming the increasingly revisionary encore 21st Century Schizoid Man

I'm at a loss as to the reasons for such zealous editing unless there were fidelity issues with the available recordings, but that being the case, wouldn't they have been able to reassemble the entire performance from other shows on the itinerary? Either way, it's a very 'white bread' choice of material that gazes longingly in the rear view mirror while straying perilously close to stalling in the middle of the road. Second guessing the Frippmeister is invariably futile but I suspect that what has been dubbed the 'Seven-Headed Beast of Crim' will prove to be about as feral as Mr & Mrs Fripp's agoraphobic pet white rabbit 'Willyfred'

First of all, new boy Jakko Jakszyk is a demonstrably fine guitarist and decent singer who cut his teeth in the '21st Century Schizoid Band' but if you wanted fresh young blood to forge the way ahead consistent with a progressive mandate, would you recruit from a Crimson tribute band? (that's like asking a historian to read your palm) His voice is hopelessly unsuited to the otherwise excellent One More Red Nightmare where he's about as convincing as a chunky beggar who commutes to work. On the up-side, his vocals and guitar on Starless are excellent and merely serve to confirm that perhaps his tonsilry is more comfortable within the ballad realm.

What's always struck me as rather indefensible is the rough ride that the outgoing Adrian Belew was routinely shown by large swathes of the Crimson fanbase. What other member of a 1st Division Prog band was still perceived as the 'new boy' 20 years after the fact? For me, his vocal, guitar and compositional abilities dwarf those of Jakszyk but I seriously doubt that the jury will still be out on the latter 20 years hence. Maybe Uncle Bob just wanted a lower profile front-man?

Similarly, one of the conclusions begging to be drawn from this line-up (inferred or otherwise) is provided by the flute and sax contributions of Mel Collins who featured originally on four of the numbers included here. Notwithstanding Mel's impeccable credentials and unswerving good taste, at 67 years old, this seasoned session luvvy is never gonna be charged with Lese-majeste. Check out his solos however on Construktion of Light which shed some unprecedented erm..light on that rather unjustly neglected new millennium Crim issue.

There are three drummers on this album but scant evidence to justify their inclusion. (Does Robert harbor designs to eventually have his entire touring band seated in the manner of a Rock orchestra?) For those sad hirsute plankton in our midst, you are advised that Pat Mastelotto is mixed on the left, Gavin Harrison on the right and Bill Rieflin in the centre. The only track where a twelve limbed percussion critter is audibly present is on Construktion of Light where they do weave an attractive composite rhythm apportioned across the stereo spectrum.

The inclusion of Sailors Tale is a treat as I think it a vastly undervalued track in the Crim's output. Levin's visceral and guttural bass adds an even more pressing urgency to the propulsive groove and Bob conspires to replicate his sublime thrashing detuned strumming 'solo' (albeit in shortened form). The Letters is every bit as as overwrought and unwittingly comedic as that of the studio original. Sinfield's cod Gothic approximation of Lord Byron selling fish from a big frilly shirt has not aged well in the interim.

Unfortunately what new material is on display offers very little clues as to what the future holds for King Crimson: Banshee Legs Bell Hassle and Walk On, Monk Morph Chamber Music are but two wispy and perishable ambient scooby snacks the likes of which we have heard countless times before. I went to see the Crimson ProjeKCt (sic) last year in Brisbane, Australia which boasted a paltry TWO drummers and have to report that the entire ensemble of Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelloto, Julie Slick, Tobias Ralph and Markus Reuter in their various permutations, provided more evidence of progressive intent and innovation that anything on Live at the Orpheum The foregoing is not sufficient cause for abdication just yet, but with every passing year, Toyah Willcox is starting to approach the mantle of a post-Punk Wallis Simpson.

You have to wonder who this release is aimed at as I fear there is too little novelty to stir the hard-nosed Crimhead from his lair which leaves the tenuous 'Crimson virgin' demographic. If you belong to the latter then you are getting a well played and well recorded bite sized selection of no-brainer material culled from the years 1971 to 2000. From that perspective this album starts to make sense and might come to resemble USA from 1975 which perhaps served as a little appetiser for the considerably more expansive (and expensive) the Great Deceiver box set. We can but wait to see what type of main course will follow the aperitif represented by Live at the Orpheum

Robert Fripp is 68 years old and as far as being dragged through the digestive tract of a music industry's irritable bowel goes, has paid his dues several time over. If he wishes to see out his time as a performer by playing an unimpeachable back catalogue with his mates to critical and audience acclaim, who am I do deny him this thoroughly merited succour?

Just don't expect me to ask you to read my palm Bob.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars The best official King Crimson live album for 40 years, but still could have been so much better

Live At The Orpheum features material that was recorded live on King Crimson's most recent tour which saw them perform some classic songs that they hadn't played live for a very, very long time. Sadly, not all of the classics that were performed are included on this live document. In fact, this live album features a heavily truncated set list. The long overdue return to some classic material was probably prompted by the welcome return of Mel Collins on saxophone and flute who previously was a member of the band in the early 70's. Mel also was a member of the excellent King Crimson alumni group the 21st Century Schizoid Band in which he collaborated with Jakko Jakszyk who handles lead vocals and second guitar here. Jakszyk is a very good singer and guitar player and his voice suits mellow songs like The Letters (originally from 1971's Islands) and Starless (from 1974's Red) perfectly. The latter song was also performed by the 21st Century Schizoid Band and so was the instrumental Sailor's Tale (also originally from Islands). These three songs are the best of this live album. The first four tracks include two shorter instrumentals that add little of interest to the proceedings and a version of ConstruKction Of Light (originally from the year 2000 album of the same name). The only other song from the 70's present here is One More Red Nightmare. As other have pointed out, the absence of 21st Century Schizoid Man is a disappointment and so is the lack of songs from the recent A Scarcity Of Miracles album (a King Crimson Projekct featuring Jakko Jakszyk, Mel Collins, and Robert Fripp). Filling out the line-up here is Tony Levin on bass and Chapman stick and no less than three (!) drummers in Bill Rieflin, Pat Mastelotto, and Gavin Harrison. Personally, I think the idea of multiple drummers is silly and pointless. But thankfully it doesn't disturb too much.

Despite its obvious flaws (and discounting the vast catalogue of archival live releases that have appeared over the years, most of which I am not familiar), this new live album is the most interesting live release under the King Crimson name since 1975's USA with John Wetton. Still, if you want to hear classic King Crimson songs performed live I would much rather recommend the excellent live double album Pictures Of A City - Live In New York by 21st Century Schizoid Band which blows Live At The Orpheum (and much else) away by a million miles. That brilliant alumni band featured Mel Collins and Jakko Jakszyk as well as other ex-King Crimson members in Ian McDonald, Peter Giles and Ian Wallace. Also, live releases by John Wetton (for example, his Amorata concert video and the Nomansland live album) and Greg Lake (for example, the Greg Lake DVD video) feature strong versions of classic King Crimson songs that overall outshine Fripp's band.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars A band with three drummers? If this could have happened when I was a teenager (and it was more than 30 years ago!) I could have been very "excited" and "surprised" ("A band with three drummers? Wow!") to see and to listen to this "experiment". the present for me this "experiment" only sounds more like another one done by Robert Fripp in a very long list. It is not the first time that KING CRIMSON has more than one drummer in the line- up, but I still think that with one very good drummer in any band is enough. Fortunately, one of the drummers in this new line-up (Bill Rieflin, with the other two drummers being "old" members Pat Mastelotto and Gavin Harrison) plays keyboards in some parts of some songs (particularly in the songs from the seventies "The Letters", "Sailor's Tale" and "Starless"). And my main interest to listen to this album was to listen to those songs from the seventies (which also include "One More Red Nightmare", from their "Red" album) played again with Mel Collins playing flute and sax. For me, the best period from this band was the 1969-74 period. Alll these songs are very well played, but with three drummers they sometimes sound with some excess....but very well anyway. It could have taken a lot of rehearsals to the three drummers to coordinate between them about who was going to play "what and when" in every song.

In this new KING CRIMSON line-up there are two former members of the 21ST CENTURY SCHIZOID BAND (Mel Collins, who also was a member of KING CRIMSON between 1970 and 1972, and Jakko Jakszyk, lead singer and guitarist who does a good job in this live album). Also Tony Levin plays bass and stick (with him being also and "old" member of the band from the eighties and nineties, a period of the band which I don`t like, due more to the musical influences of Adrian Belew than from the musical influences of Levin and other members from that period). From the Belew line-ups there is a song called "The Construcktion of Light", with the typical "obsessive" interplay from the guitars (a thing which I never liked from the Belew line-ups), but with very good flute and sax played by Collins. "Walk On : Monk Morph Chamber Music" is a brief instrumental "experimental" musical piece which works more as an introductory piece to the concert while the musicians walk to the stage. "Banshee Legs Bell Hassle" is another experimental instrumental musical piece which for me sounds a bit influenced by their "Larks Tongues in Aspic" album from 1973.

A four star rating for this live album from me, only for the inclusion of some songs from the seventies. But I still think that it is not necessary to have three drummers in a any band.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars The good news here is that King Crimson, after four and a half decades, still exists. Also, after years of running away from Crimson's back catalog of simply amazing music, his Frippness is now embracing the history of the band.

I'm sad to say I missed this tour last fall, coming at I time when attending such a concert was not an easy thing for me. I hear the live shows were spectacular. Unfortunately, I have only this disc and DVD to judge them.

My first impression is that the trio of drummers seems to have been a focus of this tour. And they do not disappoint, for the most part. It says something about Bill Bruford's abilities that these three percussionist together on One More Red Nightmare and Starless cannot match the jaw- dropping drumming on the original versions.

But don't get me wrong. These are very good renditions of songs from different stages of KC's vast and varied career. Obviously, Fripp is the only one here who played on all of the original versions of these songs. Other than Smilin' Bob, Mel Collins goes back the furthest of this group, having appeared on "Lizard" (sadly not represented here), "Islands" and "Red". Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto represent the later incarnations of the band (although the 80's albums are also not referenced), and Gavin Harrison and Jakko Jakszyk are here from the most recent grouping.

While they are quite competent at performing the classic songs, I am sad to say that they barely put their own musical signatures on these classic tracks. In fact, the only true variation from the original versions is Levin's funky bass line in Starless.

Still, this is an enjoyable disc. Particularly the fine version of Sailor's Tale.

One last note. Instead of giving us a CD and DVD of different formats of the same set, it would have been a better gift to the fans to give us the entire set. Hearing these guys play Larks' Tongues In Aspic 1 & 2 and of course 21st Century Schizoid Man would have made this album far more enjoyable.

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Well this one is a conundrum wrapped up in an enigma. After announcing his retirement from music, Robert Fripp went on to record and release a Crimson ProjeKct with Jakko Jakszyk and Mel Collins, and then to relaunch King Crimson with an expanded version of the Scarcity of Miracles line up and set out on tour with a front line consisting of 3 drummers. The set list leaned heavily on the late 60s - mid 70s, with a smattering of 90s and noughties material but bypassing the 80s material altogether. Then came the inevitable live album - a 2 disc set, with the same 41 minutes of material on CD and DVD (audio only). At this point even the most devoted Crimheads were scratching their heads and muttering WTF?

Taken at face value, it's actually a pretty good live album. The 3 drummers work together well (with Bill Rieflin occasionally downing sticks to play keyboards), and there's all the intricacy, subtlety and depth that you'd expect from King Crimson on stage and firing on all cylinders. The opening soundscape includes an old snippet of Fripp counting in the orchestral players from (I assume) the Islands sessions, before the septet roars in playing One More Red Nightmare in a completely different time signature and tempo. This is the least successful track, although Jakko belts out the lead vocal with gusto and the band give it maximum Crim; somehow, the whole is not quite the sum of the parts, and they come across more like a competent tribute band than the real thing. Then we get a brief percussive interlude (credited to Gavin Harrison) which could have escaped from The Power To Believe tour, or from Lark's Tongues in Aspic. This leads into the instrumental part of The Construkction of Light. Mel Collins plays some jazzy flute and later sax over the interlocking guitars of Jakszyk and Fripp, and the piece takes on an interesting new character. Then we're back to the 70s with two selections from Islands, both given fresh vitality and a 3rd millennium makeover with a frisson of free jazz. Rounding things off is a superb version of Starless, which Crimheads will have on repeat for weeks.

The track selection seems a bit random. The 2 tracks from Islands have both been included on other live albums - Ladies of the Road is a particularly good document of the 'Islands' line up - and The Construkction of Light is a live staple of recent line ups that was included on Heavy Construkction. The two songs from Red, on the other hand, have never been played live before, and we also get two new fragments. Set lists from the American tour included two songs from a Scarcity of Miracles, as well as improvs, so there was the opportunity to include some more fresh material, as well as a few more old favourites. Having said that, it's beautifully played and recorded and it is interesting to hear the contemporary KC getting to grips with some of the more neglected parts of their back catalogue.

Is it worth buying? I don't regret buying my copy, and I have listened to it extensively over the last few weeks. It's not much use for a newcomer to King Crimson, and indeed there are plenty of good collections that give an overview of their whole career, not least the 'Elements' double CD released to coincide with the tour. It wouldn't make much sense for anybody who is mostly familiar with KC's studio work; good live recordings exist for every line up, mostly double sets with two hours' worth of live and steaming Crimson goodness. If you're familiar with the live releases, this provides a fascinating footnote to what has gone before, although I suspect that there will be a more comprehensive release from this line up in the not too distant future. Two stars, then; as good as it is, this is really one for fans and collectors.

Review by Neu!mann
2 stars A recent ProgArchives forum discussion posed the question: "How difficult is it for the oldies among us to get into New Prog?" The word 'oldies' doesn't quite register with this aficionado, who as a teenager caught the tail-end of Prog's mid-'70s Golden Age. But it's a useful question, with an answer perhaps implicit in the belated return of one of Progressive Rock's founding fathers.

More so than other classic proggers, King Crimson has always lived on the cutting edge of musical innovation. And this first look at the newly-retooled band once again breaks new ground by presenting a surprisingly disposable live album: their first in an otherwise impeccable career spanning almost half a century. (Say what you want about the bootleg quality of the 1972 "Earthbound" album; it certainly wasn't forgettable.)

There's an attractive mix of new and old blood in the reconfigured septet: the biggest band yet assembled under the Crimson banner, albeit top-heavy with drummers to no real purpose. But the forward-thinking aims of guitarist Robert Fripp were undermined by a mercenary nostalgia in the concert set list, featuring two songs from 1974, a pair from 1972, and a single representative from the year 2000, plus a few throwaway improvised transitions totaling less than three minutes altogether.

The return of old friend Mel Collins is an unexpected dividend, and the delicacy of his flute and saxophone adds some much-needed warmth to the otherwise clinical mathematic equations built into "The ConstruKction of Light". But the rare live appearance of "One More Red Nightmare" isn't as convincing: the song dearly misses John Wetton's husky baritone, and the combined efforts of three ace drummers can't equal one Bill Bruford.

Legitimate complaints have been made about the brevity of the disc, barely adding up to forty minutes, with two-thirds of the concert left on the cutting room floor. Mr. Fripp has always been an outspoken champion of quality over quantity, and rightly so. But where the former is lacking the latter would have been welcome. The live versions here don't stray far enough from the studio originals, and were the various outtakes really not worth sharing? Or was this abbreviated package intended only as a bare-bones teaser for an unabridged future release of the same show?

If so, I'm calling foul. Fripp and DGM usually set the bar for commercial integrity higher than this. As it (currently) stands, there isn't enough substance here to distinguish the new King Crimson from alumni reunion acts like the 21st Century Schizoid Band, or the Levin-Belew Crimson ProjeKct.

So, how difficult is it for the oldies among us to get into New Prog? The answer will vary with the oldie, but re-treads like this can make the transition almost painfully easy.

Latest members reviews

3 stars As on many modern live albums of KC, the warm-up track serves as a short piece to get the listener into absorbing and attentive mode. Then come the well known songs of the 70's such as Starless, One more red nightmare, The letters and Sailor's tale. Experimental and improvisational side is repr ... (read more)

Report this review (#2240254) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, July 27, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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 wh ... (read more)

Report this review (#1461818) | Posted by Glubluk | Thursday, September 10, 2015 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I don't get the point of this album at all. Is it just a warm up to see how the line-up will function before bigger things are planned? That would make sense. Is it a technical exercise to evaluate the three drummer concept? (Which like 3D in movies, is a novelty which works but adds little ... (read more)

Report this review (#1366166) | Posted by TheWalrus123 | Tuesday, February 10, 2015 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Variations on a scene. Or a lack thereof. First off, let's discuss the two white elephants in the room. King Crimson's three drummer lineup and the stingy amount of live tracks and their importance in the KC canon. From the very moment that I read the news of Fripp's reassembled 2014 lineup, ... (read more)

Report this review (#1358041) | Posted by SteveG | Friday, January 30, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars First off, the album is a slight disappointment because of the songs from the tour that were left off. I saw the tour when they cam to wisconsin, and I was blown away by the versatile Krim material they chose. Much to my chagrin, their incredible arrangements of Talking Drum, Lark's Tongues in ... (read more)

Report this review (#1346952) | Posted by Garrett Verdoni | Saturday, January 17, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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