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Review King Crimson 31 October 2018

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Topic: Review King Crimson 31 October 2018
Posted By: lazland
Subject: Review King Crimson 31 October 2018
Date Posted: November 01 2018 at 08:49

I was introduced to King Crimson by a schoolfriend playing The Young Person’s Guide to King Crimson in 1978. It has taken me 40 years to see them live.

By way of explanation, every time I wanted to see them live (and the opportunity, of course, did not come around very often), something else, important, in life turned up.

For this tour, Uncertain Times (and, boy, are they uncertain), nothing was going to stop me. My wife, son, and I duly pitched up in Cardiff (just over an hour drive from where I live) yesterday afternoon, went for a couple of drinkies by way of a livener, had the most fantastic Brazilian meal, and arrived in St. David’s Hall about an hour before kick-off to enjoy a couple more liveners.

The PA told us on more than a couple of occasions that the band would not tolerate any live pictures or filming on phones, something those who have followed the band for years know only too well. Upon going into the hall, which is a favourite venue of mine, far better than the massive shed which is the Motorpoint Arena, there were two bloody massive signs at either end of the stage welcoming us also warning against taking any pictures & etc. Toyah’s other half was, it seemed, keen to get this message across.

I support them in this. YouTube is full of crap quality videos, which can barely be watched. Further, my experience at gigs in recent years has been very much diminished by trying to look past punters holding both their arms and their bloody electronic contraptions up in the air recording or taking pictures. I like to immerse myself in a live environment and listen and watch with my full attention. Fripp allows us to do this, and good luck to him, too.

Fripp has attracted a bit of negative comment, certainly on Prog Ears (a site he actively dislikes, even going to the trouble of posting said dislike on his blog), by describing this present eight-man line-up as one of the definitive versions of the band over the decades. On last night’s evidence, it would be difficult to disagree with him. I will say straightaway that I am a big fan of Jakko Jakszyk. He has huge boots to fill in the likes of sadly departed giants such as Lake, Burrell, Wetton, and the shadow which still hangs over him of Belew. This show featured music from across the spectrum of Crimson’s exalted history, and the vocalist did a mighty fine job in my opinion.

Sonically, this was one of the finest shows I have ever heard. The sound production was simply staggering in its clarity. Visually, the stage setup was simple, and served its purpose, which was to bring the audience’s attention to the show. The three drummers are stage front, whilst the remainder are on a raised dais behind, with Fripp, as ever, sat down on his chair throughout.

I know my wife & son were looking forward to the experience of seeing a band with three drummers. They were not disappointed. Messrs Mastelotto, Harrison, and newish recruit, Stacey (originally recruited to replace Bill Rieflin, who returned for this tour, but as the band’s first full-time keyboardist) were incredible. The musicianship required to synchronise the way they did with each other is of the top drawer. Both opening pieces of the two sets was opened with Drumsons pieces, and mighty impressive they were, too. Gig encore, 21st Century Schizoid Man, also featured a fine solo piece by Gavin Harrison.

So, the highlights. The memory of the first set closer, Islands, will live in my memory for many years to come. In fact, it will stay with me to the day I depart this mortal coil, because it was just so beautiful. I mean that. There is no other way to describe the performance of that song as anything other than a thing of beauty.

When the opening bars of Starless came on, I let out a huge whoop, which attracted a few disapproving stares from some of the more miserable punters. I thought instantly of my best man, Chris “Nashy” Nash, who left us far too early owing to cancer. Every drunken night out we had would culminate with music blasting out of his sitting room stereo, and, inevitably, the last track played, at ear splitting volume, would be Starless, the ultimate ”mellotron moment”. I lived and breathed every single note of a peerless version, and I know that Chris was up there somewhere looking down approvingly, with arms raised high at the denouement.

I have always had a deep love of Epitaph, and I was impressed by the Easy Money performance. What did surprise me, though, was just how much I enjoyed the Belew era tracks. The intensity of Indiscipline was a particular highlight.

Given the musical pedigree of this line-up, it would be a tad unfair to pick out any particular performer, but I will say that I am so glad that Mel Collins got back together creatively with Fripp in the 2011 album, A Scarcity of Miracles, because his contribution to this show was incredible in the range of instruments and virtuosity. But, as I say, all band members were faultless, and, more to the point, this was very clearly a band thoroughly enjoying themselves.

This was not a concert of show offs. Jakko did not make one announcement to the audience the entire night. In fact, the only announcement was a recorded contribution by Mr Fripp prior to the start exhorting us to party! This was not a concert of old timers milking the last few dollars out of a glittering career lost in the eons and ravages of time. This was not a concert of musicians going through the motions of recreating old favourites. This was a concert of a group of exceptional musicians providing a musical feast of joy to a deeply appreciative audience, a group who love to change arrangements around, and a group at the top of their game.

If this is this venerable act’s last hoorah as a performing group, then they will have gone out on a huge high. I will also be able to meet my Maker happy, having ticked off the last of my “bucket list” gigs.

Incredible.

 

Setlist:

First set

1.       Drumsons 1

2.       The ConstrucKtion of Light

3.       Neurotica

4.       Moonchild

5.       Bass & Piano Cadenzas

6.       In the Court of the Crimson King

7.       Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Part IV)

8.       Cirkus

9.       Lizard

10.   Indiscipline

11.   Islands

Second set

12.   Drumsons 2

13.   Radical Action (To Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind)

14.   Radical Action II

15.   Meltdown

16.   Radical Action III

17.   Level Five

18.   Epitaph

19.   Easy Money

20.   Discipline

21.   Starless

Encore

22.   21st Century Schizoid Man



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In Lazland, life is transient. Prog is permanent.



Replies:
Posted By: SteveG
Date Posted: November 01 2018 at 10:12
 Clap Thanks Laz for the virtual front row seat. I remain envious until the day that I see KC in concert again. Which shouldn't be too long me thinks!

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This message was brought to you by a proud supporter of the Deep State.


Posted By: AEProgman
Date Posted: November 01 2018 at 11:50
Clap also!  Having seen them on the 2017 tour, your eloquent description pretty much nailed my experience as well.  My review was more of shell-shocked awe and all I could say was Damn....just Damn!  I agree with you on Jakko.  Great review!

Actually yesterday I received my Meltdown - Live in Mexico CDs/DVD and watched the DVD last night probably about the time you were leaving the show there.  I got to relive it again!  The DVD I thought was awesome.


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Posted By: Chaser
Date Posted: November 01 2018 at 12:34
Fantastic review lazland! You really bring the whole experience to life.

I'm seeing them on Saturday. I was already excited and after reading your review I'm now salivating.

Hoping I enjoy it as much as you did. Thanks for posting. Really appreciate it.

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Songs cast a light on you


Posted By: dr wu23
Date Posted: November 01 2018 at 15:18
Wonderful story and details of the set list ,etc......thanks for that.
I saw KC two times in the mid to late 90's both times in Chicago. I hope to see them again should they ever return to Chicago....


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One does nothing yet nothing is left undone.
Haquin


Posted By: tboyd1802
Date Posted: November 02 2018 at 19:19
Great review. I have had the fortune to seeing them twice. First time, like you a long held desire, in 2014 in San Francisco - an incredible show. Went solo (my wife accompanied me to San Francisco, but let's be honest, she won't have enjoyed the show and neither would I !-) ). Like you, high point for me in that show as Starless - never in a million years thought I would get the chance to hear it performed live. Then on this last tour in the US, 2017, I got to see them on by Birthday in Seattle. For that gig, I treated myself and my best friend to the "royal" package, part of which was a pre-show question and answer with Jakko. He was fantastic - great sense of humor, engaging, and just bubbling with enthusiasm for the group, his role in it, and the music. If they come back to the States again, I will be sure to see them again.

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He neither drank, smoked, nor rode a bicycle. Living frugally, saving his money, he died early, surrounded by greedy relatives. It was a great lesson to me -- John Barrymore


Posted By: Lewian
Date Posted: November 02 2018 at 19:42
Originally posted by Chaser Chaser wrote:

Fantastic review lazland! You really bring the whole experience to life.

I'm seeing them on Saturday. I was already excited and after reading your review I'm now salivating.

Hoping I enjoy it as much as you did. Thanks for posting. Really appreciate it.

Haha, I avoided reading the review because I didn't want to see the track list in advance. It wasn't 100% the same today though.
Great review!
I was smiling throughout the concert. I was skeptical that it'd be too nostalgic for me, but not a bit. There's still innovation and creativity in the band. Very exciting use of the three drummers; there is some heavy noise element in King Crimson through their entire career and the three drummers feel totally natural for their music, exactly what the heavy riff dominated portion of their material needed. Nice contrast between the heavy, math rocky, more lyrical, subtle and free jazzy elements. At the same time very versatile and totally unmistakable. Nobody comes close to what they're capable of.
The line-up is great, I always was a fan of Levin, Mel Collins is a great addition wherever he hadn't originally been present; I hadn't got warm with Mastelotto before but this time I was very impressed by his drumming. Jakszyk's voice fits the vast majority of the songs very well - I particularly liked his melody in Indiscipline; I'd have though it would be very hard to replace Belew on this long-standing live highlight but Jakszyk really made it his own.


Posted By: Man With Hat
Date Posted: November 02 2018 at 21:12
excellent review. they are quite the force.

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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.


Posted By: cstack3
Date Posted: November 02 2018 at 22:15
Steve, thanks for your fine review!!  You saw one of my favorite bands in Cardiff, one of my favorite cities in the British isles!  

I saw a similar show in Chicago in 2017, and it was truly remarkable.  I'm jealous about the Brazilian dinner however!!  Cheers, Charles in Chicago


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I am not a Robot, I'm a FREE MAN!!


Posted By: AEProgman
Date Posted: November 03 2018 at 06:35
Tony Levin has posted his photos of the Cardiff show.  URL below.

https://tonylevin.com/road-diaries/king-crimson-2018-meltdown-tour/cardiff-show

One of his photos was quite humorous, he captured (of the crowd ) at the show. LOL 



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Posted By: Raff
Date Posted: November 03 2018 at 06:47
Thanks for the great reviewHeart! We saw KC for the first time almost exactly a year ago. Unfortunately, circumstances were not the best - the venue was rather cramped, and other personal issues impaired our enjoyment of the evening. However, it was a great show with many highlights, and we hope to repeat the experience next year, when they tour the US again.


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Proudly driving people off prog forums since 2005


Posted By: Progfan1958
Date Posted: November 07 2018 at 10:48
Hi Steve,
Well I'm glad you finally got to see them.  This current incarnation is a superb set of musicians, and Robert seems really happy, which is saying something. I'm glad he's keeping the band alive now, going on a record 5+ years with basically the same lineup. If you know of his gripe with the record industry, and how he had withdrawn from it for a while, I applaud him for re-engaging on his own terms and allowing the fans to show their appreciation for the art he and his associates create.  I hope they keep going for as long as possible.  


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Progfan1958
"Peace to you all"
"La paix est avec vous"
"Pax vobiscum"
"Al salaam a'alaykum"
"Vrede zij met u allen"
"Shalom aleichem"


Posted By: richardh
Date Posted: November 09 2018 at 00:25
Yes this certainly marries up with the experience I had at the Bournemouth Pavillion a few days earlier.
Cheers!


Posted By: Blacksword
Date Posted: November 09 2018 at 08:04
Yep! Consistent with my London experience last Friday. Wonderful show, and I agree about Islands. Beautiful.

Crimson are pure quality, in all their manifestations.

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Ultimately bored by endless ecstasy!


Posted By: lazland
Date Posted: November 09 2018 at 11:55
Thanks for all the replies.

There is a consensus. Crimson are simply on another planet when it comes to quality and the pleasure given

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In Lazland, life is transient. Prog is permanent.


Posted By: MrMHead
Date Posted: December 21 2018 at 07:53
Originally posted by dr wu23 dr wu23 wrote:

Wonderful story and details of the set list ,etc......thanks for that.
I saw KC two times in the mid to late 90's both times in Chicago. I hope to see them again should they ever return to Chicago....

They've started booking US dates.
Chicago - Sept 10, 2019

Hoping they'll book in Cleveland again.

Saw them last year at the Hard Rock Rocksino






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No Civilization here. Tried it on but it would not fit.
Seems only a thin veneer. A little rubbing and it comes off quick.
- The Bears


Posted By: MrMHead
Date Posted: January 21 2019 at 10:31
Just booked at the Rocksino (Northfield, Ohio, outside of Cleveland) again for September!!




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No Civilization here. Tried it on but it would not fit.
Seems only a thin veneer. A little rubbing and it comes off quick.
- The Bears


Posted By: MrMHead
Date Posted: January 24 2019 at 20:09
Got the Tix  Big smile

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No Civilization here. Tried it on but it would not fit.
Seems only a thin veneer. A little rubbing and it comes off quick.
- The Bears


Posted By: Lewian
Date Posted: July 09 2019 at 11:31
I'm happy to have seen them another time yesterday, this time in the Roman arena in Verona, normally a world famous opera venue, and an incredible setting for the band. It was again an unforgettable experience. They only managed to fill the venue about half, which doesn't really surprise me as, legends or not, they never had the commercial appeal of Pink Floyd, Genesis, Radiohead etc. I'm happy that they did it; I hope they didn't lose much money in this way. It may win them some new fans there because I saw a good number of young faces, parents brought their children and some certainly decided to go because the venue adds to the attraction. 

They apparently always change the set list. Some things that I haven't seen on the set lists here and they hadn't played in London when I saw them in October last year were Cat Food, Frame By Frame and The Sheltering Sky. Discipline has always been my favourite album and I was very happy that they did these (plus the reliable highlight Indiscipline that should always be there and in fact mostly is), both in shiny new arrangements. The Sheltering Sky in particular was a real highlight, here and in some other parts they left themselves some space for improvisation, and Sheltering Sky has such a unique relaxed atmosphere and is in quite some contrast to the heavy sound elsewhere. Frame by Frame got quite some makeover started off with melodic percussion and pretty laid back vocals before eventually all seven band members get busy. Very interesting, although I prefer the leaner version on Discipline. There was one pretty good song that I didn't recognize. I wouldn't guarantee that 100% of their catalogue is on my radar but surely the vast majority is. I'd be delighted if this were a new one, maybe they come out with some entirely new music apart from their creative new arrangements and drum interludes? After all that touring what about doing a studio album for a change? Surely they proved already that the spark is still there!

Another thing that they hadn't played when I saw them before (neither last October nor in any earlier incarnation I had seen) was Moonchild, mentioned already by others on this tour. Moonchild was really, really wonderful. They shortened the instrumental part a bit but what they did was minimalist, meditative, artful and impressive, You could hear a needle drop.

Compared with the London concert in my impression the melodic parts and songs shone more whereas for me at least there was less of a surprise factor in the interplay of the drummers and the drumming dominated parts weren't changed or rather reduced a bit. Further highlights included once more Island, The Court of the Crimson King and predictably the ending section with Indiscipline, Starless and the encore Schizoid Man. I liked occasional jazzy bits and rare hints at "contemporary classic"/minimalist music.

A criticism is that they have a lot of tracks that are based on heavy guitar riffs varied and modulated through the keys, and in the first half for my taste they picked too much of that stuff, ConstrKction of Light, Level Five,  LTIA IV, also many older songs such as One More Red Nightmare have parts of this kind (there's even more such as Red that they didn't do), and this gets a bit repetitive, be it their signature sound. 

And then (but this isn't a criticism, just a thought) it always strikes me that some of their music is quite physical, yet (apart from Masteletto and Harrison on occasion) it is all presented in a quite body-less, intellectual way and surely they wouldn't want to see anyone run to the front and dance. Everybody is seated and hardly anyone is moving. Of course one can say "all are listening, what could be better" but it's rock music, isn't it, so some rocking should be fine!? I also wondered whether this is quite a male thing (the line-up itself is heavily imbalanced but of course they're not alone), although this time the audience was balanced better than in London (where it seemed 80-90% male) with many fathers bringing their teenage or twen daughters who seemed to have a good time. Any thoughts?




Posted By: AEProgman
Date Posted: July 09 2019 at 13:37
^ Very nice review!Thumbs Up

I have been slightly obsessed with KC since seeing them on the 2017 tour (for the 1rst time).  Never thought I would ever see any version of KC, in North Carolina no less.  Not your hot bed of prog rock area for sure.  There were some youngsters there also.  Most were men, I guess 70% or more.  Although there was a couple sitting in front of us, and the woman seemed to be more of the fan than the man Approve.  I took my stepson who knew of them somewhat and he was floored by the relentless power and precision.

I agree they do get heavy a bit, but when those softer quiet moments comes, it makes them stand out more (to me).  I would have loved to see them play Cat Food and A Sailor's Tale.  I was pleased when they played 4 songs off of ITCOTCK album being my first time seeing them, including Moonchild.  Indiscipline opened the 2nd set, loved the drummers interplay on the opening.  I really love the 3 drummers up front and the rest of the band behind and elevated.  I sort of liked the tone of the band just performing like an orchestra would without a lot of movement.  

I recently picked up an "Ultimate Music Guide to King Crimson" magazine put out by Uncut publications (very good).  In it was an article from 2013 titled "We Shall Not Boogie" which sums up their live performances. 


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Posted By: sparj
Date Posted: October 02 2019 at 05:50
We had the chance to saw them 2 times this year, it was incredible to be in front of such a spiralic, fascinating sound, wich is a synthesis of so many kind of music, rock, flok, classical, jazz, electronic, world... Crimson still  the more prominent band in contempory music for me...



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