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Fripp & Eno, Live In Paris 1975
:: Posted by froggy55 on October 13, 2014

Fripp & Eno, Live In Paris = Amazing!

October 3, San Francisco: An Observation
:: Posted by swaind on October 13, 2014

I was a fourteen-year-old in 1974 suburban Boston trying to survive the ignominy of adolescence when I heard a radio ad on WBCN for an upcoming show featuring a band I’d never heard of called King Crimson (I think the Mahavishnu Orchestra was on the same ticket, which seems almost inconceivable now); the ad featured a snippet of Greg Lake sqwarking “Cat’s foot, iron claw…” on the trusty Radio Shack 4-band, and though I hadn’t the money for a ticket at the time, I soon tracked down the album and scraped together enough to buy “In the Court of the Crimson King.” As part-time jobs supplied more funds, I was able to buy everything the band had recorded up to that time and delved into the music with abandon. Brian Eno once said something to the effect that the music you listen to is the soundtrack of your life; King Crimson’s music was, at that point in my life, a bulwark against everything I found troubling. It’s hard to turn the telescope around and describe now what it was about the music I had first found so appealing back then; it was exotic and had moments of great power (nicely complementing testosterone surges), dark and sometimes frightening, and though it often ended in chaos, it didn’t seem bleak or cynical. I can say at that time it made me feel hopeful that there were people creating music that could be so bracing and that could have moments of beauty yet didn’t shy away from turmoil.

A few years later, I was at a summer job (unbeknownst to me, about to be laid off) listening to the same radio station (the DJ went by the name “Oedipus”) when it was announced that the first caller who could answer the question, “What Blondie song did Robert Fripp play guitar on?” would win admission for two to see a solo performance by Mr. Fripp that evening at Passim in Cambridge. Curiously, “Fade Away and Radiate” was one of the few Blondie songs I knew other than the radio staples of the day (thanks to my college dorm neighbor, Wombat), so I called the station on the pay phone in the warehouse (pay phone!), inexplicably reached the DJ and won (possibly the only one who called). That evening was another hallmark in my musical education. Passim was a 60s vintage coffee house…the real thing…but tiny, and there couldn’t have been more than 50 people present. The music and the performance itself were utterly remarkable (Robert Fripp a few feet in front of us improvising on the fabled Gibson Black Widow with the looping Revoxes), but what made the biggest impression on me was the generosity with which he addressed the rapt audience and explained with sincerity and guilelessness his intentions and what he hoped he would be able to communicate to us. My impression of Mr. Fripp had been a man who was nearly always in complete control (to an almost impossible degree), but in person there was also a vulnerability and a willingness to stand before a group of strangers and create what seemed to me a genuine level of intimacy that even I couldn’t miss, despite being a colossally chowderheaded nineteen-year old. And the music itself was like the beam from a lighthouse sweeping out over dark seas; really they sounded like long, slow mournful calls into the beyond, echoing and fading into infinity. Absolutely undone, I went home that night and wrote down everything I could remember in my journal (though even then I couldn’t get too enthusiastic about his interest in Gurdjieff). Sure, there was a bit of hero-worship involved…I was nineteen, a dope, not especially worldly…but I think everyone present felt they had witnessed something unusual. And there may have been more than a few of us walking home that night wondering, who the hell is this strange little man? What is his deal?

Perhaps relatively early exposure to challenging music by way of King Crimson (and by challenging, I simply mean music that elicits active engagement and offers some reward for the effort by enlarging one’s sense of the world) encouraged an omnivorous musical appetite, but over the years I tried to listen to everything (and I mean everything, though one thing I could never tolerate was operatic vibrato…) in the hopes of finding resonance with or gaining some insight into my own restlessness. During it all, the Passim performance remained a lodestar (that and another astoundingly unexpected interaction at a ‘lecture’ by Ornette Coleman the afternoon before an evening performance at the Power Center in Ann Arbor, at which I also managed somehow to be present).

Then there was school, marriage, real job, children. I’ll be honest: I had really stopped enthusiastically listening to most rock music around that time…it was instrumental music and the sound of instruments and the environment that I preferred hearing…waves, birdsong, running streams, ambient street noise…which is why it seemed so strange to find myself at the Warfield in San Francisco on October 3, 54 years old, actually looking forward to a performance by a new version of the King Crimson collective. It was another set of unlikely coincidences that led to the purchase, which this time around amused me with their mischievous insistence: while doing the wash I was reading the very Sunday paper which announced The Elements tour, and the washing machine died; I trucked a load of sopping wet clothes to the nearest laundromat and went across the street to buy something to drink from the convenience store while the washer and dryer consumed several pounds of quarters. In the cooler was a microbrewed beer, King Crimson Red Ale (DGM, take notice), and the Pandora station they must have been streaming played “I Talk to the Wind,” which I hadn’t since the 1970s. (Not making this up.) How could I possibly ignore so many elbows in the ribs?

As reluctant as I was to drag myself out of my usual rut, I was intrigued by the advance news that there would be three drummers and figured that this was one way Mr. Fripp would guarantee that both performers and audience would be challenged in new ways. Mostly, though, I wanted to see what Mr. Fripp had discovered since that evening in Passim, and how ‘that’ might reveal itself in the performance. Even though I hadn’t followed him or King Crimson much since the Discipline tour (Soundscape excepted), I realized I have been rooting for him all these years. Fripp has consistently maintained some version of this belief: “When music appears which only King Crimson can play, then sooner or later King Crimson appears to play the music.” He’s circumspect about how the music manifests itself: which comes first: the music out of the ether, or his need for it and the assemblage of musicians who create an atmosphere in which that music then materializes? (He would likely answer both, and neither.)

The phenomenon of the tour itself was intriguing; “The Elements” has some effective if uncharacteristic packaging: the ‘Elements’ theme itself, for one (multiple meanings, but most importantly, the ”essence”); the sly symbolism of the new incarnation hatching at the Egg in Albany; the teases on the DGM website prior to and during the tour…but even though a certain amount of commodification is inevitable in 2014, the emphasis was effectively directed towards the music itself (all commercial aspects meanwhile deftly handled). Anyone familiar with the repertoire over the years knows that only musicians with truly exceptional prowess can perform it; the mystery was not whether they were up to the task but what this particular collective was going to be able to do within the confines of the set.

So I bought a ticket simply to hear music I had never heard before, even though I knew every piece they performed...it really didn’t matter what was on the set list…I surrendered and had faith that the members of the band would create the conditions along with that particular audience on that night in that place to allow something unexpected to happen. Many on the DGM site have already commented much better than I ever could about individual performances, so I won’t mention that here, except to say that the interplay of three drummers was something I had never heard or seen before; it seemed so appropriate that I actually forgot there were three drummers. And as for my usual listening…gentle rains are nice, but every once in a while you need a bone-shaking, wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-with-your-heart-smashing-against-your-ribs-careening-for-the-nearest-exit thunderstorm to pry you out of your complacency. There were moments during Sailor’s Tale, Red, Pictures of a City, Starless, when the sounds merged into something no one was playing and the ground seemed to rumble...and I have to think that’s what Mr. Fripp has always been after, why he’d go to much trouble and risk what has evidently been hazardous to him in the past (he is in a way, after all, a proper English country gent who writes tenderly about his geriatric bunny’s ailments…). That’s what we were all there for...audience, musicians and most of all, Mr. Fripp. And I hope that he found what he’s after.

Eyes Wide...Open?
:: Posted by DannyX on October 13, 2014

I gather that some here feel the latest incarnation of the band is not visually interesting enough to warrant a DVD, and would benefit from interjecting a more Cirkus-like feel to the proceedings. Or perhaps just a shot of snkzato ’dancing and grooving’ would suffice.

:: Posted by snkzato1 on October 13, 2014

While I can respect the desire, I just don’t get it. I love having live albums, but seeing it on a TV does nothing for me. The magic is removed that exists in the live moment and I am just sitting and watching some people jam out. At live shows I’m usually dancing and grooving to whatever is going on (I would have been dancing at Crimson except for the seats...Talking Drum is boogy central). That aura is gone in a DVD. The audio can capture it, but the visual does nothing for me. I’m being forced to watch what the camera dictates. I can’t focus on Pat, Bill, or Gavin when I want, but only when the camera says it is time to. This drove me crazy during the Deja Vroom video because the majority of time I just wanted to see Bill and Pat (as a novice drummer myself). Its the frustration that someone else has decided what is the most important thing to be looking at during a performance rather than me deciding what to watch. The only concert film I can recall really enjoying was ’Stop Making Sense’, and I’d still rather listen to the soundtrack than to watch Mr. Byrne bounce around in his big suit.

action at a distance
:: Posted by bloggulator on October 13, 2014

Unfortunately, circumstances dictated that I was unable to (physically) attend either of the two King Crimson shows at the Orpheum in Los Angeles, the nearest approach by The Beast - but like 10s of thousands of others throughout the world, I closely following the tour at a distance. Thanks, Sid! However, it felt as if I was there "in spirit", and in turn, somehow, a little part of the entity which is King Crimson manifested itself, via modern communication protocols - in my home. Let us all acknowledge, with gratitude, all the people and circumstances that made these last month’s seismic events possible. This schizoid planet became a more elevated place in September and early October 2014 - on that I am sure we can all agree.

King du Soleil
:: Posted by albemuth on October 13, 2014

Although I think it is "coming out" wrong, I can understand people wanting a DVD of the recent KC tour.  This weekend, I saw Cirque du Soleil, loved the show (as usual), and felt compelled to purchase the DVD. I love Cirque partly because, in an odd way, it seems like a quintessential music event.  Although everything is planned, it feels hugely ephemeral, since the acrobatic stunts will never come off the same way twice.  You watch in open-mouthed wonder and feel happy that human beings can do such things.  Kind of like a KC concert! 

Let’s put it this way: if DGM puts together a DVD, then I will buy one.  And I’m sure Mr. Froggy will, also.  So that makes two "for certain" sales right there!  Can the postings by Froggy and I be counted as our "pre-order?"  Whew!  I’m glad that’s settled.

Also, as a few other people have said, I’m sure that there will downloads from the recent tour.  And it seems likely that there will be more touring and maybe even recording in this KC’s future.  Let’s hope for happiness, for the brave chaps and for us!

DVD schtuff
:: Posted by sonofjorg on October 13, 2014

Wow, and a wowski more...

I am so happy that KC are alive and kicking out some good times for all, more importantly a sense of a true return. I like many are on the other side of the world and could not afford to prove my dedication to the Kraft of Crimson.

And yet, I still am left with a wonderful feeling that EVEN though I was not there, I was able to live in a time when this was happening and I am grateful that it did. Do I need a DVD to add to my countless lists of KC stuff, yeah, it would be nice, but a fuck you to those who made it possible is not actually productive.

I say THANK YOU to all who made it happen; even though I was 8546 miles away from it.

Paul J

Don't panic
:: Posted by Rockette on October 13, 2014


AAAAAAAARGH!!! Sorry, all this shouting is infectious.

The band has denied this is their last tour, Tony Levin says he thinks there will be more gigs in 2015, and all reports are of a happy bunch of musicians with Robert Fripp visibly enjoying himself. But if this *was* secretly planned as the last tour ever, I’m pretty sure they would have filmed some gigs.

Also, every concert was recorded multitrack, the musicians and crew took hundreds of photos (many of which were posted on the internet) and there are numerous interview, backstage and soundcheck film clips, making this one of the most thoroughly documented tours KC have done. So the lack of a DVD is no great loss.

To Be Seen & Heard
:: Posted by WaitingMan on October 13, 2014

Dear oh dear... some of the comments, claims & counter-claims regarding the lack of plans for a DVD of the current concert run & people’s reactions, have come close to those you find on YouTube (not the DGM channel though, I’m sure). Outrage, angst & snooty superiority abound

As an Australian, my first experience of KC was the Discipline LP back in ’82. My first sight of them was the Frejus VHS tape, which I only saw in ’96... & I played it ’til it deteriorated. Not just because it was a great visual show, which it was, but also to listen to all the musicians parts, both individually & combined. I’d never realised how much Tony Levin did on the Stick (I’d thought it was a guitar overdub)

And apart from a couple of Adrian Belew tours & the recent Projekct shows (thanks again guys!!), the only way I’ve seen KC is via the videos & DVDs released by DGM. Given Australia’s geographic isolation, it’s likely the only way I’ll see KC is on DVD or Youtube. So I understand some people’s frustration. To a degree, I share it. I was certainly disappointed to read there were no plans for sound & vision to go with all the snippets we’ve heard & the glowing reviews we’ve read

So who cares if the current line-up had no ’frontman’ as such. I’m sure I’d not be alone in wanting to see how the drummers interacted, how Jakko handled guitar duties, how Mel handled being both the only real ’soloist’ as well as being a kind of extra rhythm guitar. I go to classical & jazz performances to watch the musicians too. Sure, it’s primarily about the music, but I find my experience enhanced & expanded by watching the players & understanding where that music is coming from

But if it’s not to be, this time, then it’s not to be. Fingers crossed for next time though??!!

Be Thankful
:: Posted by emmapeelfanclub on October 13, 2014

The amount of dopey ranting about there not being a DVD or BluRay release from the recent tour is downright absurd. If one company is not at all "corporate" it’s DGM. No corporate would had gifted us with the huge amount of archive material we now have and certainly not the staggering large in-depth boxsets.

Just get a grip and stop whining and moaning. Yes, I’m an Englishman and wasn’t able to see any dates on the tour due to being in my native continent... yes, I would welcome anything from this tour and I’m content to sit still and be patient.

Let’s cut the negative crap and actually be thankful that the mighty Crim has returned to service. I would like to thank Robert, Jakko, Tony, Mel, Pat, Bill and Gavin for the music and it appears they’ve pulled off a remarkable tour. Also thanks to the backstage crew for their work in helping pull it all off and lastly, thanks to Sid Smith for his ongoing commentary and the amusing videos from the tour. I trust and hope all involved enjoyed the tour - actually seeing Robert smiling and the wonderful photos Tony Levin took has been heartening, especially those backstage ones with the fists - a great camaraderie!

Maybe a little more appreciation and goodwill might go some way towards ensuring there will be a positive future from King Crimson and ourselves, the fans. Whining and moaning is only going to be destructive. Take a look at the news... there’s far more important things to be getting irate and upset about!

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