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.
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more
Manuel Göttsching - Die Mulde, Concert for Murnau & E2-E4 Live – As 2005 neared its end, Manuel Göttsching released three new CDs: Die Mulde, Concert for Murnau and E2-E4 Live. Die Mulde is a composition Manuel recorded September 6, 1997 for an art... (2006) » Read more
Vermilion - Flattening Mountains and Creating Empires – This album is quite an oddity, coming as it does from a little-known (so far) band on an independent label, for it features a big name producer (Steve Albini) and a big name artist on the cover (Roger... (2003) » Read more