It's been 31 years since the Crimson King appeared at the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco. In December 1969, the original quartet was at the end of their first American tour, tired, spent, and just downright frustrated. The group was on a triple bill with both the Nice (led by Keith Emerson) and the Chambers Brothers (an R&B vocal group), which typified the mixture of musical styles in a Bill Graham venue for the day. Fast forward to the present and although Robert Fripp and his new quartet have adopted many guises, none are more brutal than the projekctized version, which has been successfully redefined for the new millennium.
by Jeff Melton, Published 2001-03-01
King Crimson is now a leaner, meaner, industrial-strength incarnation which is teetering on the perimeter of a vital internet skirmish. Make no mistake; this king was smoking hot — using Fripp's terms, "a Hot Date" in a sold out standing-room-only chandeliered room. For the opening few minutes of the gig, trademark ambient tones swirled from the PA. It appeared that there was no opening group again for this gig (not like they'd have a ghost of a chance anyway).
Crimson started the show with "Red" from the 1974 classic album of the same name. It is remarkable how this piece implies the power and aggression of three decades of sinister command. The set list was more varied than on the previous night, with three tracks from Discipline migrating into the set. New material from the Virgin release, The ConstruKction of Light, included a giddy version of "Into the Frying Pan" and the title track.
Adrian Belew was in top form the entire evening with his Hendrixian approach acting in stark contrast to the more studied Fripp approach. For my money, the best wagers of the evening were when all eyes focused on Fripp for "Frakctured" and "Larks Tongues in Aspic Part IV." Besides the indirect link back to pieces from the 70s catalogue, these variant beasts are intricate workings of timing and guitar technique. This does not in anyway hinder their value within the live presentation since, in my opinion, this is the closest Fripp himself has been to reclaiming guitar idol status since the 70s. Now that the man has returned to the front of stage left, his role has been elevated back to counter-soloist. His relentless performance on these two tracks together with Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto's counterpoint made the evening one which I will forever treasure.
Older pieces didn't hold up as well rhythmically. Gunn does more than his able best, while Mastelotto doesn't appear to have the precision to make "Thela Hun Ginjeet" or "Frame by Frame" hold up, but that was a minor flaw. Adrian closed out the show with a solo acoustic version of "Three of a Perfect Pair" followed alternately by the remaining three for another sonic excursion, "Thrush." "Dinosaur" was the final piece of the evening before another overzealous fan attempted the predictable "flash" live photo, which signaled the end of the gig. Regardless, the band is back again with a vengeance to divide and conquer the sonic mat and hopefully make new converts along the way.
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Magical Power Mako - Music from Heaven, Trance Resonance & Lo Pop Diamonds – Mako seems to delight in perpetrating an image of mystery and enigma. With a history going back to 1975, and a load of albums, he never seems to settle into a singular style. However, along the way he... (1996) » Read more