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King Crimson - Red Bank, NJ July 10th 2017

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Man With Hat View Drop Down
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    Posted: July 25 2017 at 21:49
It was day two for the mighty Crim in the dirty jerz, the date added presumably due to high demand after night one sold out. This news was quite a godsend for yours truly, who was a little slow with the purchase button for the sunday show. No matter now. A beautiful summer's eve welcomed KC to this little hamlet near the shore. Hot outside, but inside the Count Basie theater it was bound to be hotter has the eight man beast prepared to roar. After a quick supper, I arrived with plenty of time to soak in the (admittedly limited) ambiance of the event. Even with seats far back in the upper balcony, the stage was in full view and the signage warning people to desist with the photographs was easily readable (well, for me I had to squint as my eyes aren't great for these sorts of things). Weirdly, me and my guest were all alone in our row and there were plenty of empty seats in one section lower of the upper balcony (at least on our side of the auditorium). Certainly not a complaint as it provided some nice elbow room and I wasn't surrounded by talking yahoos throughout the set. All that was left was the waiting.

The setlist:

Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part 1
Neurotica
The ConstruKction Of Light (Part 1)
Cirkus
Lizard - Part C: The Battle Of Glass Tears
Fracture
Epitaph
Vrooom
Islands

Intermission

Indiscipline
Pictures Of A City
Radical Action Part III
Easy Money
Red
Fallen Angel
Interlude
Meltdown
Radical Action II
Level Five

Encore:
Starless
21st Century Schizoid Man


First the bad...the sound was slightly wonky to open the show. The guitars (and vocals on Neurotica) were way down in the mix...a slightly detriment to the otherwise awe inspiring power that Larks' Tongues Part I provides. This improved steadily and by CirKcus this was essentially a non issue. Occasionally the sax also felt slightly under represented, but for the most part it wasn't a problem. The only other complaint I could have is the inclusion of Vrooom...which is far from my favorite song in their arsenal. But it was over quite quickly and really as a setlist this is one that not many KC fans would complain about.

Second the good...pretty much everything. This is quite the well oiled machine and they burned up the stage with every song. Aside from the aforementioned sound issues, the rest of the band was pretty well represented in the mix. The bass in particular seemed to stand out, much more so then one the previously released material from this decade. The inclusion of Fracture was a wonderful surprise and received the appropriate appreciation from the audience. Epitaph might have had the second most awe from the captivated crowd. The played from nearly 3 hours and seemed like they could have played for another two. Perhaps as a result of that length, their version of Heroes was dropped from the set (which is a huge plus for me). The highlights: The ConstruKction Of Light...the sinewy guitar and drum patterns pinged and ponged almost on the edge of control. The additional keys were a great touch and it was an enrapturing performance. Fracture...no doubt this old nugget would make the highlight list. This is one of the more radically rearranged pieces on this tour. The triple headed drum assault was in full force on this song which created such a suffocating thicket of rhythm during the middle segments. The guitars tried to act as a machete but the density of the percussion stole the show (at least until the climax of the piece). Lizard Part C...a psychedelic romp through the most active and explosive section of the Lizard suite. This was one of the few moments of the show that they seemed to get loose and almost "jammed out" during the middle bits of this highly underrated song in the KC discog. Easy Money...another jammy moment of the concert, that was also high on the psychedelic jazziness that made its home in the King Crimson universe once upon a time. This was also another great example of the 8 men being one body, fully clicked into a collective consciousness that manifested itself on the stage. 21st Century Schizoid Man...the volatile finale of the show. Everything that makes KC great burst out in grand fashion, including a fun jazzy interlude in the middle and a captivating drum solo by Harrison (including his "trademarked" finger scraping of the drum). The perfect (and really only) way to end the show. 


Third the random thoughts...Something that is hard to determine from listening to the audio discs is just how orchestral they act. They are an octet, but sometimes they are a sextet and then morph into a quartet before changing to a septet, all the ease and grace. Everyone is like an arm of an octopus, putting their piece of the puzzle down just in time for the next arm to put it's piece of the puzzle down. It's quite the clockwork precision that stands out while watching it all. The addition of a full time keyboardist adds a great texture and timbres. The mellotron sounds fit perfectly with later period KC pieces like Level Five and The ConstruKction of Light. And it creates quite a sonic soup when Fripp, Stacey, and Rieflin play the keys at the same time. Also, I'm glad Fripp decided to keep Stacey as the third drummer. He is definitely a step up from Rieflin on the skins and adds that extra spark to pieces like Meltdown, Fracture, and The ConstruKction Of Light. I'm not sure if it's just the extra playing time together or the constant key work (or just Stacey's addition) but this band is certainly the hottest that this drum-forward version of KC has been, based on the documented evidence up to this point. I haven't been a huge fan of Jakko's vocals on the Wetton material (or Epitaph...although he seemed perfectly fine on this occasional with this song) but the Lizard/Islands material is perfectly suited for his range and expressive abilities. This is perhaps an area to explore further if they add some more songs to the mix for the next leg of the tour. His sing-songy approach to Indiscipline made me laugh, but was so Jakko that it made up for whatever awkwardness came from this reinterpretation. As for the new songs...I think they have nailed down Meltdown in terms of structure and the "eyebrows". Radical Action II does still feel a little underdeveloped, especially as a lead in to Level Five (which frankly it's pretty similar to, at least the intro). Radical III was a fun jaunt into a more frantic percussion ally, vis-a-vie the gamelan mentality of midera KC, but it does still feel new (kind of like Meltdown on Live In Toronto...not quite finished but you know the path is there). Finally, for me live versions of Starless have always been a disappointment compared to the absolutely untouchable climax of the studio version. This lineup comes closest to capturing that power in the live setting. Not quite there, but really close.

Fourth the conclusion...an absolutely wonderful show that honestly ranks as my #2 show of all time that I have seen. This is the best the 2010s version of KC has been, and I suspect they will only grow stronger as the new 8 man lineup cements itself more. I can only hope for a 'Radical Action...' type of release for this lineup, as it would be criminal to only have the 8 man lineup documented by random downloads on DGM. If you are a fan, you owe it to yourself to go to a show, if they are anywhere near you. 5/5, truly excellent.
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I'm running still, I shall until, one day, I hope that I'll arrive
Warning: Listening to jazz excessively can cause a laxative effect.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AEProgman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 27 2017 at 09:56
Great review and observations!  Glad to hear also as I just got my tickets this week for the October 26th show down here in Mayberry RFD, aka Raleigh, NC.  If I understand correctly, this is the first time KC has played here since the early 70s?

This will be my first time seeing them ever!  The set list seems to cover a good mix of old and newer, of course I would want hear more of the older, but really does not matter.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Man With Hat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 27 2017 at 12:44
Thanks! And wow...that is a long time to drought the area. Do you know if any of the projeKcts ever stopped around there?? (That would half count. :p)

And nice! It will be interesting to see what they decide to add to the setlist (if anything) for the latter half of the tour. Personally, I think things like Industry, The Great Deceiver, the rest of the Lizard suite, and Discipline would work very well with this line up. I've also always wanted The Crim to do the Larks' Tongue suite in full.
Dig me...But don't...Bury me
I'm running still, I shall until, one day, I hope that I'll arrive
Warning: Listening to jazz excessively can cause a laxative effect.
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