Now close to 50 years in existence, the legendary progressive rock band King Crimson (who, let's be honest, started this whole 'prog' thing in the first place back in 1968) are still going strong, back once again with a tremendous new line-up and wowing audiences worldwide with a wide selection of songs from their back catalog, heavy on material from their first few albums. Perhaps with the recent passing of both Greg Lake and John Wetton, leader/founder Robert Fripp has decided to pay homage to the two 'fallen angels' by revisiting the classic era catalog, sprinkled of course with songs from the post 1980's line-ups. What we were treated to at The Egg in Albany (one of the coolest venues you'll ever see) was magical, savage, and jaw-dropping, as Crimson played a set-list for the ages for the near 1000 in attendance.
The current incarnation of King Crimson consists of :
Robert Fripp – guitar, mellotron, keyboards , soundscapes
Mel Collins – saxophone, flute
Tony Levin – bass guitar, NS upright bass, Chapman Stick
Pat Mastelotto – percussion, acoustic and electronic drums
Gavin Harrison – main drums
Jakko Jakszyk – lead vocals, guitar, flute
Jeremy Stacey – drums, keyboards, backing vocals
Chris Gibson – keyboards, synthesizer, mellotron
With this expanded line-up, the band are able to venture into sonic territories previously uncharted, the inclusion of Collins once again a real treat, as the veteran musicians once again delivers his gorgeous sax and flute embellishments to familiar tracks as well as those not so familiar. If you would have told me a decade ago that we'd see King Crimson dust out "Lizard", "Islands", or "Cirkus" live in 2017 I would have told you that you were nuts, but here they were revisiting these early '70s classics in all their glory, Collins adding his lovely reed work to the jazz & prog arrangements. Jakszyk, for his part, in addition to laying down the demanding guitar parts alongside Fripp, is responsible for representing the vocal styles of Lake, Wetton, Boz Burrell, and Adrian Belew, no easy feat for any mere mortal, but he did a more than admirable job throughout this show, really shining on an emotional, Mellotron drenched "Epitaph" and a dramatic "Fallen Angel". Speaking of the Mellotron, this set provided a wealth of sounds from the legendary prog keyboard, with Fripp, Stacey, and Gibson all playing their part to bring the gorgeous orchestral swells to life.
The real stars of this evening though were the drum trio of Mastelotto, Harrison, and Stacey, who all were perched at their drum kits at the front of the stage, obviously meant to be the showcase of this tour, and they did not disappoint one bit. Each with a part to play in this story, they complemented each other perfectly and dazzled the audience every step of the way. Kudos to the band for incorporating drum parts for three players in songs that mostly featured Bill Bruford or Michael Giles...this was simply mindblowing to watch. Just when Harrison left you with your jaw hanging on the floor, Mastelotto or Stacey would then knock it back off your face after you put everything back in place. There was just no respite from the onslaught of virtuoso performances here, the always impressive Levin again showing why he's perhaps the best bassist on the planet with his array of instruments that always lock in the groove, and Fripp & Jakszyk weaving some intense guitar artistry that incorporated monstrous riffs and searing lead guitar lines. The duo cut loose on a furious "Easy Money", blaze through "Neurotica", mesmerize on "Indiscipline", and laid waste to everyone in attendance on the encore of the early heavy metal classic "21st Century Schizoid Man". Of course, "In the Court of the Crimson King", "Starless", "Discipline", and "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One" were there as well, all further additions to a set that included so much majestic nostalgia that, for this writer at least, made for the ultimate King Crimson concert experience.
Do not miss this tour!
Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One
Cirkus (The Battle of Glass)
Radical Action (To Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind)
Drumson Outbreak of Wonderment, Joy & Bliss Arising
The ConstruKction of Light (Part 1)
Moonchild ('The Dream' part only)
The Court of the Crimson King
Radical Action II
21st Century Schizoid Man